VIRGINIA BEACH, VA January 1, 2008 On December 1, Brendan Devine, a Bethel resident and senior at Monticello High School, traveled to Virginia Beach, Va. for his final cross country competition of the 2007 season.
Devine, who is a three-time Metropolitan New York AAU Champion, finished third in the age 15-16 category at the December 2006 AAU National Championships at Orlando, Fla.
Devine expected the competition to be even tougher as he moved up to the Young Men’s Division (ages 17-18) this year. As he expected, the competition was fierce.
Intense as the competition was, it was a two-man race from the start between Devine and Michigan’s Jon Rock, also a high school senior. Spectators were treated to what one official reported was the closest race in AAU history.
Spectators could often see Devine and Rock on the course from the Virginia Beach Sports Complex and were able to watch the race up close and personal on the Jumbotron system on the complex’s scoreboard.
The two runners were shoulder to shoulder for 3 miles and frequently exchanged the lead before Devine opened a 5-meter lead in the last 800-meter stretch inside the stadium complex.
As they turned toward the finish line, Rock put on a show with an incredible kick that stunned the crowd and left everyone wondering who had won this photo-finish race.
In the end, the two runners were separated by less than five-hundredths of a second; each with an official time of 15 minutes, 41 seconds. The photo showed how close the race was and that Rock had won the national championship.
When the results were announced, Devine and Rock congratulated each other and embraced. The two harriers had given their all and only one could be crowned champion.
The two boys, both of whom are being recruited by the U.S. Naval Academy which Rock is planning on attending may have many more such competitions to look forward to in their college careers.
This dramatic second-place finish capped an incredible season for Devine one in which he set four course records, won two major invitationals and finished second in two others, including the prestigious Manhattan College Invitational.
Among the events at which Devine set a course record were the Tri-Valley Invitational on September 1 and the Monticello Invitational in October.
He won the T-V Invitational with a time of 17:23 and earned first place in the Monticello Invitational in 15:16.
Devine finished second to Cornwall’s Colin Anderson at the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) championship meet.
But Devine defeated Anderson in the OCIAA Division III championship and again in winning the Section IX Class A title.
From there, Devine went on to finish second in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Class A championship race with a time of 15:52 and 15th in the New York State Federation championship in 16:27. Each of those finishes was the best for a Section IX runner.
Because he will not turn 18 until September, Devine remains eligible to compete again next year for the AAU Young Men’s Division championship.