MIDDLETOWN — Western New York’s finest high school track and field athletes intended to sprint, hurdle and heave among the best of New York State on Friday, but Mother Nature put on the greatest display of supremacy.
The first day of the state outdoor track and field championships was rained out. All events will take place today, rain or shine, beginning at 8:30 a.m. The forecast calls for clear, sunny skies and a temperature around 80 degrees.
It also calls for Section VI sending five favorites and many underdogs into action.
There will be 19 finals (16 individual events, three relays) for both boys and girls; Western New York has at least one representative in each of the 38 events. The most exciting event of the day for Section VI will likely be the girls Division II 400-meter hurdles. Emily Irish-Ryan, a senior from Amherst, is ranked first, and Mckenna Maycock, a sophomore from Randolph, is second. Just .38 seconds separated them in qualifying at Pioneer last Saturday.
The other No. 1 seeds from the section: Jesse Dhaliwall of Grand Island in the girls Division I discus; Lauren Hudson of Williamsville North, who qualified in a three-way tie for first in the Division I high jump; Jenn Thill of Lancaster in the Division I pole vault; and Devon Patterson of Williamsville South in the boys Division I shot put.
Competition will be fierce considering the best athletes from the state’s 11 sections as well as top ones from New York City’s PSL and the Monsignor Martin Association will be in attendance vying for state and Federation titles.
Some Western New York juggernauts are now big-time underdogs. For example, Lake Shore junior TJ Hornberger, who cruised to an easy 3,200-meter run title at Section VI state qualifying, is seeded ninth, and West Seneca East’s Andy Smigiera, who used his long stride to blast competition in the 100-meter dash, is ranked 11th.
The No. 1 seeds are not the only Buffalo-area athletes with a shot at a state championship.
Teddy Okon of Clarence qualified second in the high jump, and Cheektowaga’s Stephanie Lombardo is ranked in the same slot in the girls Division II discus.
Section VI qualified No. 3 in six categories: Lockport’s boys Division I 4x100 relay team; James Hanners of Cheektowaga in boys Division II discus throw; McKyla Brooks of Frontier, girls Division I triple jump; and Dhalilwall in the shot put. Miranda Daucher of Alden trails the leader by just three inches in the Division II shot put and is also third in the discus.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association presented its Sportsmanship Promotion Award to one boy and girl in each division from each section. The Section VI winners: Smigiera; Irish-Ryan; Gene Baritot of East Aurora; and Brianna Colello of West Seneca West.
Organizers called off Friday’s action because of torrential downpours and the threat of tropical storm Andrea. The original schedule called for action from 11:30-5:40 p.m. Friday and 10-3:30 p.m. Saturday.