In the Sullivan house in West Seneca and there’s usually a collection of running shoes by the back door that rivals the selection at Fleet Feet.
Three pairs belong to the sisters who made their mark running for West Seneca West, and two others belong to the parents, who met as runners for rival West Seneca East.
And one belongs to the youngest member of this running-crazed family, Kalen Sullivan, who has filled some pretty big shoes.
The middle distance standout ran the season’s fastest time in Western New York in the 800 meters Saturday with a 1:55.41 at the Middletown Invitational.
Sullivan got a sense of competition shortly after learning how to tie his shoes. He thrived trying to keep pace with sisters Kaley, Emma and Hillary. Their mother Tammy was a hurdler and father John a distance runner. When his time finally came, Kalen ran with it.
He holds seven school records, three set indoors and four outdoors. He’s won seven Section VI championships in the two seasons. In the last two years, he hasn’t lost an ECIC dual meet race in the 800, 1,600 or 3,200. One of his most memorable races was his eighth-place finish in the 800 in the state Federation meet last spring.
“We just love track and field and watching track meets,” said Sullivan. “My mom still runs four-five miles, dad runs every day. Even though they’re not competing at a high intensity, we all just love to run.”
Sullivan had a short-lived soccer career, playing as a freshman. A sister’s boyfriend convinced him he needed to follow in his family’s footsteps, so he agreed to giving running a try.
He remembers joining the West program and looking up to the team’s milers, Brendon Greg and Anthony George. He often asked them about their training and how to stay focused.
Fast forward and the senior has signed a national letter of intent with Iona College. He also considered UB and Columbia, but felt Iona was the best fit. Iona wants to jump-start its middle distance program and plans on building around Sullivan. The honor roll student with a 94.8 average plans to study biochemistry.
He’s come full circle as he’s now the runner fielding questions from the underclassmen. “They ask me how do I have that much energy left. It took me four years to get here, it takes time,” he said.
And a good pair of running shoes.
Throwing sensation Devon Patterson of Williamsville South is coming off an indoor season in which he earned All-America honors with a sixth-place finish in the shot put at the New Balance Indoor Nationals at The Armory. He’s the Section VI record holder indoors in the shot. This outdoor season his goal is to impress on the state and national levels.
Andy Smigiera of West Seneca East leads Western New York in the 100 (10.87) and the 200 meters (22.32), both school records. He was named MVP of the Dunkirk Invitational for the second year in a row.
Last fall, Smigiera quarterbacked the Trojans’ football team to a 9-1 record. He’s signed with I-AA Robert Morris University for football, but may run track. He’s always considered himself a football player who runs track, but track has its own appeal.
“My football friends I’ve pretty much known all my life. In track you meet a ton of new kids every year, and I like to pass along information I’ve learned to help them get better,” said Smigiera.
Starpoint is so talented coach Brian Lasher is calling his team, “one of the best in our history.” Senior A.J. Joslin is undefeated in the 800, and broke his own school record in the event at the Starpoint Team Challenge with a 1:56.30. He nudged out Clarence senior Ben Reinhardt by a tenth of a second for the victory in what might have been the race of the day. Joslin is a long strider who gobbles up a lot of ground at 6-foot-4. His college plans include Virginia Tech, where he will try to make the track team as a walk-on.
Spartans senior Adam Yacos leads Western New York public school athletes in the 400 (50.52). Football all-star Evan Majewski is a top sprinter. The Starpoint 4x800 relay is ranked No. 1 in Western New York. Senior Tom Moran went to states last year in the pole vault. Matt Prohaska has a 9:49 in the 3,200 on his resume after the Hilton Showdown.
Clarence junior Teddy Okon broke the school record in the high jump at 6-6 at Starpoint, and also does the long and triple jumps. Junior Dan Huben ran a 10:34 in the 3,200 to break the meet record as part of the two-man relay at Starpoint. Senior Sam Bunk is the top thrower. The Red Devils bring a 4-0 record today into their meet against Jamestown.
Jamestown junior hurdler Mitchell Moore broke two meet records at the recent Olean Invite. He’s run the 110 hurdles in 15.3 and the 400 hurdles in 54.8. He’s been voted MVP of the Olean and Falconer invites.
Junior TJ Hornberger of Lake Shore cut loose at the Hilton Showdown, running a 9:12.70 in the 3,200. Hornberger shines in the big meets. Last fall he broke the Section VI record at Elma Meadows during the cross country state meet. At last year’s outdoor states, he was third in the Division I 3,200 in 9:24.70 and ran his person record (PR) in the 1,600 at 4:19.61.
Cheektowaga has gone from the team everyone knew they could run their JV against, to a team that is one dual meet away from winning back-to-back ECIC III titles. Coach Rich Bridenbaker said he inherited a team six seasons ago that had about 12 athletes. A win today over Amherst will give the Warriors a 5-0 record and the title outright. “We’ve become a team that everyone wants a shot at, which is pretty nice,” said Bridenbaker, whose staff includes Ken McCracken, Matt Swetland and George Lombardo.
Cheektowaga won Saturday’s Little Four meet. Tim Whelan is a hard worker who runs the cycle every meet: 4x800, 1,600, 800 and 3,200. “It’s not like he has one good event. He runs four solid races,” said Bridenbaker. Dave Kerling (pole vault) and James Hanners (shot put) recently broke school records. Kenny Dillenburg keeps busy with the 100, 200, high jump and 4x100.
Olean senior John Tanus, the cross country standout, broke school records at Falconer in the 1,600 (4:30.18) and 3,200 (9:47.44). Two other Southern Tier middle distance runners to watch are Corey Wefing of Maple Grove and Zachery Jackson of Randolph.
East Aurora’s Sean Phillips looks to qualify for states in the 3,200 and get the 4x800 there as well. Senior Brendan Keany and Phillips are the returning members of the 4x800 relay that broke a 30-year-old school record at states by running a 7:53.37.
East Aurora senior Gene Baritot is four seconds shy of qualifying for the state meet in the steeplechase for the second year in a row. Last year he placed fifth. His ultimate goal is to break the school record of 9:38.99 held since 2003 by Dan Fields.
West Seneca West got a sneak peak at this year’s state site when it traveled to Middletown on Saturday for the Middletown Invitational. The five-year-old, multi-million dollar facility is located in Section IX, about an hour outside of New York City. Plenty of other schools had the same idea as the event drew 40 boys and 40 girls teams.
The track features a 10-lane straightaway, practically unheard of for high school facilities, two pole vault pits, four jumping pits, four throwing circles and a turf infield. A huge Jumbotron scoreboard lets fans follow the action.
“It’s not your typical track when you have long straightaways and short turns,” said Indians middle distance coach Pete Szymanski. “The turns are a little longer and straightaways are a little shorter. A lot of colleges are like that. So that’s going to be interesting. The 200 kids will love that because they can make a move right off the bat.”
Cleveland Hill senior Brandon Wesley has been able to overcome injuries the last two seasons to break the school record in the 800 in 1:58.2. The previous record went back to 1966. Junior Jared Watkins, third team all-state defensive back in football, is among the Western New York leaders in the triple and long jumps.
Amherst senior Adam Murphy holds the school record in the 1,600 (4:25.77) and has a season-best 4:30.1. Senior sprinter Lamont Smith has a 22.4 in the 200, which is tied for the school record.
Alden’s best in the throws, Jason Bunk, has a Division I future waiting as he’s ticketed to play football at UB in the fall. The Bulldogs have a tough middle distance runner in Sean Turner, who recently committed to Medaille College for cross country. Junior Phil Zobrest, who ran the 400 the last two years, bulked up in the offseason and is now one of the area’s leading throwers.
The top boy in the Buffalo Public School’s Scalp and Blade is Seamus Degan of City Honors, who looks to makes states after qualifying for the state cross country meet. The Centaurs and Hutch-Tech won their first six dual meets.
Randolph is 8-0 in dual meets. Junior Zachary Jackson holds the school record in the 1,600 (4:31.20) and taking aim at the 800 mark. Chris Doubek has vaulted a personal record 13-6.
Southwestern’s Jordan Powers is one of the section’s top 400-meter hurdlers (58.4) and ranks at the top of the junior class.
Orchard Park junior Dawson Hillis leads Section VI in the discus at 165-0 and his 51-6 in the shot is ranked among the top 10. Senior Jake Eneix went to the indoor states in the 1,000 and intersectional relay. This season he’s training for the steeplechase and checks in with one of the area’s fastest times in 10:01.1.
Sweet Home has an abundance of talent, leading off with its 4x100 of Tyvon Rivers, Derell Hennings, Damon Luton and Jeff Hart, which qualified for states by running a 43.04 at the Panther Relays. Hart is ranked second in Western New York in the 100 and 200. Rivers leads WNY in the 400 hurdles and does the triple jump. Twin pole vaulters, Josh and Justin Willson, both have cleared 11-6.
Lockport has a 4x100 that has won its share of races. Multi-sport athlete Alex Reid excels in the 100, 200 and triple.
Lawrence Williams of St. Joe’s ran under 50 seconds in the 400 at Starpoint. The Marauders’ 4x100 trails only Sweet Home for fastest time in Western New York. The Monsignor Martin Association championships are Wednesday.
Sherman, Clymer and Panama have merged and are competing in CCAA I, and will stay in Division II for state competition.
Note: Next week, Scholastic Spotlight shines on girls track and field.