YORKSHIRE — Williamsville South thrower Devon Patterson beat the toughest Western New York competition and set a personal record, but you wouldn’t know it by talking to the buff Billie.
Patterson’s shot put of 61-feet-8 eclipsed that of the next-best athlete by more than 7 feet, but the junior was hoping for bigger things than a Division I title. He has been topping 63 feet in practice and thinks he can break the state record of 64-10.
“I’m not trying to be cocky or anything, but the way I’ve been throwing the whole year, I knew I had a ticket to states,” said Patterson, who is deciding between Oregon and Arizona State for college. “You have no idea how much I’ve got left in the tank. … I’ve got to save it for next week.”
Patterson was one of many extraordinary local athletes at the Section VI state qualifying track and field meet at Pioneer High School on Friday afternoon. While Patterson advanced to the state finals in Middletown next Friday and Saturday, most of the 169 events were semifinals in which qualifiers advanced to the final competition today.
Lake Shore junior TJ Hornberger took another of the finals in the Division I 3,200-meter run. The speedy Hornberger lapped most of his fellow racers, but he, too, was disappointed in his 9:29.97 performance in the race.
“I tried to go out and get a personal record, but I realized a mile into it that it’s way too hot for that,” Hornberger said. The sunny, low-80s day demanded constant hydration and trips to the shade.
Hornberger will run the 1,600-meter race today, and while he was unhappy with his 3,200 time, he was thrilled with the result – a chance to go to states.
“It’s a great feeling to represent a section, this great section, Section VI,” Hornberger said. “I hope I have something left for next week because I’ll need it. I want to try to get as close to sub-9 as possible.”
The week after states, Hornberger will travel to North Carolina to run in the national 3,200-meter competition.
The boys 800 also yielded two champs: West Seneca West’s Kalen Sullivan (Division I) and City Honors’ Seamus Degan (Division II).
“Going into the year, I had a mile focus, but when the seeding came out for sectionals and I saw I was the highest seed in the 800, I thought: Maybe I can win this,” Degan said. “Four years of hard work paid off today. I couldn’t have asked for a better end to my Section VI career.”
While the distance runners and field athletes have punched their tickets to Middletown, the sprinters, among others, have one more day of competition. West Seneca East’s Andy Smigiera won his heat of the Division I 100-meters. “I came out of the blocks hard and stayed relaxed, and staying relaxed helped me get through it,” Smigiera said.
Lockport’s Josh Beshaw, who took first in the second heat, beat Smigiera’s time by .03 seconds. Beshaw said he got a poor jump but overcame it by pushing “harder and harder.”
The showdown between Smigiera and Beshaw is one of the most anticipated events as the meet wraps up today beginning at noon at Pioneer.