BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer-News Transcript Hours after setting his second national indoor track record of the 2008-09 season and winning his first national championship, Manalapan High School senior Robby Andrews was still in a state of disbelief.
I don't know how this is happening, he said.
However, he soon answered his own question
I've never worked this hard, Andrews explained.
On March 15 at what his become his favorite venue, the New Balance Track and Field Center, better known as the New York City Armory, Andrews shattered the national indoor 800-meter run record at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships (NSIC).
Andrews became the first scholastic runner to go under 1:50 for the 800, with a sizzling time of 1:49.21 to claim the title.
This is the first time I've ever been to a national meet, Andrews said. It's nice to do well.
The NSIC 800 lined up as a return battle between Sadika White of Allentown and Andrews. White finished second behind Andrews when the Manalapan trackman set the national indoor 1,000-meter record (2:22.28) at the armory in February.
White had vowed to take the NSIC 800 out fast in an attempt to burn off Andrews' lethal last-lap kick. White went to the front as anticipated, but his 56.2 opening 400 was not going to take the sting out of Andrews' kick.
I was on White's shoulder for the first 400, Andrews said. I tried to pass him after the 400 and he responded. I tucked in behind him. Coming off the turn I made my move with 250 meters to go. I put it all out there. The last lap was all guts.
Andrews threw down a time of 26.4 for the final 200 meters that left everyone else up the track and put him into the history books. His second 400 was clocked in 53.2.
The previous indoor 800 record was 1:50.55 set in 1995 by Michael Granville of California. The New Jersey record was set by John Marshall of Plainfield, who ran 1:50.7 in 1981.
The NSIC national title and not his time was what mattered most to Andrews, however, he knew he was capable of running fast.
In his record 1,000-meter run in February, he ran the final 800 meters in 1:52.8.
After the 1,000, I thought I could probably run a pretty fast 800 right now, he said.
The week before the NSIC, Andrews ran an open 400 at the armory and clocked a time of 49.31.
I ran the open 400 to see what I had left, he said. After (running) a 49.3, I knew I still had a lot of zip left.
The NSIC field found that out on March 15.
Andrews has had an indoor season in which he won the High School Mile at the Millrose Games, set the national 1,000- meter record, won the 1-mile run at the Eastern States and captured his first national title by setting his second national record of the season in the 800 at the NSIC.
Area athletes weren't just chasing national titles in New York City over the weekend. All-America honors were on the line as well. The top six finishers in each
event earned All-America recognition.
On March 13 the Colts Neck High School boys earned All-America honors in the distance medley relay. The team of Mike O'Dowd, Vilius Komskis, Kevin O'Dowd and Mark Leininger finished sixth in a season's best 10:23.57 at the NSIC.
Leininger's 4:19.5 anchor 1,600 sealed the sixth-place showing for the Cougars. Mike O'Dowd's 3:12.7 opening 1,200 had the Cougars in contention and Komskis kept them there with a smooth 51.8 400. A 1:59.6 800 by Kevin O'Dowd gave Leininger the stick in sixth place.
I wanted to get into the mix, he said. It was nice passing people.
With Leininger positioned to get the team a top six finish, the other Cougars were confident he would get the job done.
Mark is one of the best runners around, Kevin O'Dowd said.
Leininger rewarded his teammates' confidence.
I stayed relaxed and made my move on the last lap, he said, adding that the last lap hurt, but was worth it.
Four teams were vying for fifth through eighth place and it turned out to be a good thing that Leininger brought the team home fifth in its section because the Breen Track Club, which ran in the first heat, turned in a time of 10:22.67 that was good enough for fourth place. That pushed the teams in the seeded section from fourth place on down one spot By finishing fifth in the seeded section, the Cougars were able to grab the sixth and final All-America position.
Leininger and the O'Dowd brothers had won All-American honors before. This was Komskis' first All-America honor it was special to him.
It's great, I've never had it before, he said.
In the girl's pentathlon, Colts Neck High School's Lindsey Rappleyea totaled 2,590 points and set a new Freehold Regional High School District record. The pentathlon consists of the 60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800-meter run.