By Jim Halley, USA TODAY
Special to MaxPreps.com
Kyle Merber isn't above wearing the Johnny the Colt uniform of Half Hollow Hills West (Dix Hills, N.Y.) when his school's teams compete. He even sold T-shirts and helped start the Hills West Super Fan Club to raise money to purchase a mascot uniform.
So, it shouldn't be a surprise that the senior would go the extra mile — or three or four — for Half Hollow Hills West.
Saturday, a day after winning the prestigious boys high school mile at the Millrose Games at New York City's Madison Square Garden, he ran three events for his school, the 3,200, 1,600 and 1,000 meters, at the Suffolk County Championship.
"Our team won for the fourth straight year," Merber said. "I was able to win all three events I ran, but I definitely am sore today. With the team in mind, I had to suck it up and run."
Growing up on Long Island, Merber got an extra kick out of winning at the Garden on Friday, finishing in 4 minutes, 13.86 seconds to edge Bobby Andrews of Manalapan (N.J.), who ran a 4:14.60.
"I go to Madison Square Garden pretty regularly for other sporting events, but I've never been there for a track meet," Columbia-bound Merber said. "Being in an arena with 12,000 track fans was definitely different. It was extremely exciting. A ton of my friends and family came to watch."
While the mascot wasn't there, Merber did his own impression of the colt, taking the lead for good with two laps to go.
"It's a little harder to pass there because the straightaways are short," Merber said. "By going to the lead with two laps to go, it was easier to hold onto the lead."
That was the plan used by the girls winner, Jillian Smith of Southern Regional (Manahawkin, N.J.), who won her second consecutive big indoor mile. She won in 4:50.87, the third-fastest time in meet history.
Smith also won the Boston Indoor Games mile on Jan. 26.
Super 25 Setbacks
Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), No. 19 in the USA TODAY Super 25 boys basketball rankings, is poised to move up in the rankings after a big weekend, as is No. 24 Fairfax (Los Angeles).
Oak Hill won the Mountain State Coal Classic national division in Beckley, W.Va., defeating No. 13 Norcross (Ga.) 68-65. Brandon Jennings had 34 points, four rebounds and six assists for the 25-3 Warriors while Norcross (21-2) was paced by Al-Farouq Aminu with 35 points and 11 rebounds.
Fairfax defeated No. 10 St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) 62-61 in the Nike Extravaganza at Santa Ana, Calif. Solomon Hill had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Fairfax (19-3), and St. Patrick (16-3) hurt itself by missing seven free throws in the fourth quarter.
Hanging It Up
Gary Korhonen, 67, is stepping down after 36 years at Richards (Oak Lawn, Ill.) and leaves the Bulldogs with more wins in Illinois than any other football coach.
Korhonen is 306-91 in Illinois and 315-98 overall, counting two seasons of coaching in Iowa.
He won state titles at Richards in 1988 and '89 and has made the playoffs every year since 1985, including this season, when his team went 11-1.
St. Xavier (Cincinnati), which finished its 15-0 season as the Ohio Division 1 champion and No. 5 in the USA TODAY Super 25 football rankings, may be playing in a smaller but more elite division next season.
The state's athletic association is considering a plan to move the state's largest schools to a super division, rather than pit a school with a large enrollment such as St. Xavier's (1,173 senior, junior and sophomore boys) against a school such as Harrison (530 senior, junior and sophomore boys).