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Clarke captures conference track title

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It was a banner spring for Clarke boys’ track and field.

The Rams captured their first conference title since 1986 and went undefeated in the process with a 15-0 mark. Coach Brian Doxey attributed the success to a combination of talent, hard work and depth.

“It’s an amazing feat,” Doxey said. “A major key for us was the kids trained throughout the winter. Even though we had one in-person winter meet and a few virtual, the kids never stopped working. Even the ones who didn’t run cross-country stayed focused on their events.”

Defeating perennial powerhouse North Shore early in the season by 10 points set the tone, Doxey said. “That was the biggest upset that didn’t even sink in to the kids at first,” he said. “After we won that meet, we realized it could be a special season and we only had one relatively close meet after that.”

Covering 95 percent of events with quality talent went a long way in helping the Rams make history with the conference title and also finish third in the Division 4A championships. “We had 34 kids and that was a huge advantage,” Doxey said. “And we were very diverse.”

Doxey credited Clarke’s four captains — Ryan Faude, Steven Kanibian, Alex Pereira and Anthony Golio — and a couple of newcomers in leading the way. He said Kanibian, a senior, rose the occasion as much as anyone. Kanibian won the 400-meter run crown at the division championships (53.38 seconds) and was part of the winning 4x100 relay and the second-place 4x400 relay.

“Steven has been grinding for years and everything just clicked this spring,” Doxey said of Kanibian, who also led the Rams in the 200. “He took it to the next level.”

Faude, also a senior, was the team’s top miler and also came through in the 4x400 relay along with Pereira and senior newcomer Nicholas Montoni. Pereira, a junior, was the glue of the team, Doxey said, and a top sprinter who finished fourth in the 400 in the division meet. Golio, a senior, was responsible for plenty of points in the shot put and discus.

Senior newcomer Dominic Lagnese provided a tremendous boost to the roster and had an outstanding division meet with a runner-up finish in the 100, a third-place finish in the 200 and anchoring the 4x100 relay. “He has elite top-end speed,” Doxey said. “The main thing we had to work on was his starts.”

Juniors Aiden Dauz and Kainoa Martin handled the first two legs of the winning 4x100. Dauz had a breakout year, Doxey said, and Martin scored consistently in the triple jump. Junior Kenny He handled middle distance and the mile, placing fifth in the division in the 1600m and helping the 4x800 to a third-place finish along with Andres Ventura, Said Reyes and Jayson Emile.

The Rams capped their memorable season at the Nassau County Class B championships last week. The 4x100 and the 4x400 relays placed second. Lagnese was All-County in the 200 (second) and 100 (third.)