In a world where creativity is key to survival, the Section I indoor track coaches stepped up.

With venues shut down and their season inching toward an unhappy ending, Suffern indoor track coach Jeff Dempsey thought outside the box. The result: meets held in the underground parking garage at the Palisades Center shopping mall in West Nyack.

Mall administrators have blocked customers from parking in the underground garage during the pandemic. Dempsey jumped at the chance to use it for track meets, and management was on board with his request.

Hastings and Irvington took their turns on the parking lot course on Feb. 27, with the Yellow Jackets boys claiming the Session II meet.

Aidan Gemme won a pair of events, while Arlo Heitler grabbed one victory to lead the Hastings boys to finish with 75 points — 17 more than runner-up Briarcliff (58). Irvington was third in the boys’ division with 35 points.

Gemme won the 1600-meter run in 4:46.69 and the 3200-meter run in 10:02.13, while Heitler’s victory came in the 300-meter dash in 46.23 seconds.

“It has been over a month since our last meet,” Hastings head coach Molly Guilfoyle said, “and I have to give credit to the team for giving 100 percent at practice day in and day out without the certainty of there being another chance to compete. I was thrilled with how they all ran and competed, and the boys’ team was especially impressive, coming away with the team win over some great programs.”

Somers placed fourth in the boys’ standings with 30 points, followed by White Plains (27 points), New Rochelle (11), Hendrick Hudson (11), and Rye Neck (1).

Irvington’s boys picked up a win from Henry Demarest, who copped the 1000-meter run in 2:52.84.

On the girls’ side, Kayla Daley of Hastings won the 55-meter dash in 7.91 seconds and the 300-meter dash in 46.23 seconds.

“Kayla Daley shone for the girls… and I was very encouraged and happy with the performances of Anna Thomas, Charlotte Durietz-Bourdain, and Natalie Romero,” Guilfoyle said.

Hendrick Hudson and New Rochelle tied for the top spot in the girls’ division with 59 points. Irvington was third with 46, followed by White Plains (32), Hastings (28), Pleasantville (14), and Briarcliff (7).

Irvington picked up one first-place finish in the boys’ and girls’ divisions. Henry Demarest won the 1,000-meter run in 2:52.84, while the girls’ 4X300 relay team of Sadie Van der Spuy, Isabella Berger, Ciara Lyons, and Lauren Allan was victorious in 3:13.25.

“Just being able to see the kids compete against other teams after all their hard work on hill workouts, loops on the neighborhood roads, and whatever we could give them was outstanding,” Irvington coach Chris Barry said, “and they held their own against some top large-school programs from Westchester.”

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