OLEAN — T.J. Hornberger no longer has to remind himself what the Section VI record is in the 1,600 meters. The mark now belongs to him.
For the past year the Lake Shore senior has been writing the record time of 4:13.07 down on small pieces of paper and leaving them in places he would frequent during the course of his day, a notebook, his locker, rooms in his home.
“I wrote it down like everywhere. I just wanted it so bad,” he said.
The motivation worked.
On Saturday, he put the race of his life together, running a 4:12.77 to break the long-sought-after 27-year record held by Charlie Kern of Sweet Home.
“This was the best I felt all year because I was injured, so I’m so excited I could run this fast,” said Hornberger, who won by a gaudy 16 seconds. “I was going for 4:13 or faster. I saw my time (after the third lap) and I knew I could get there, so I just picked it up and went as fast as I could go.”
Fans sitting in the bleachers at Olean High School sensed they were witnessing history. They stood and cheered during Hornberger’s final 100 meters, an all-out sprint to the finish.
The two-day Section VI Track and Field Championships attracted athletes from 85 schools. Olean proved a gracious host. It was the first time they hosted the event since 2006. The meet was also a qualifier for next weekend’s New York State meet at Cicero-North Syracuse.
The beautiful weather lent itself to many impressive performances.
Senior Corey Wefing of Maple Grove won the Division II 1,600 in 4:23.88. Hornberger and Wefing won their respective 800 meter races on Friday night.
One day after winning the Division II long jump, senior Dawan Jones of Tapestry made himself a double winner taking the triple jump in a WNY-leading 45 feet, 1.5 inches.
Mitch Moore of Jamestown, who has the third-fastest time in the state in the 400 hurdles, won his Division I race in 54.13.
Matt Schaefer of Williamsville North heard footsteps, but it didn’t keep him from winning the Division I 400 meters in 51.01. Markus Diehl of Frontier was a close second in 51.21.
“I could hear him coming from behind me,” said Schaefer, who placed second last year. “It’s all about mentality, you have to get through it, it’s in your head. I kept telling myself I could do it.”
Six-foot-3 senior Bob Liebel of Tonawanda used his long stride to leg out a win in the Division II 400 in 49.98.
“I have the biggest steps and I can eat up more ground in the stretch,” he said.
Daquane Spikes of Sweet Home won the Division I 110 hurdles in 14.71. Runner-up Jeffrey Menyah of Niagara Falls was close behind in 14.82. “I knew I was going against Niagara Falls so I knew I had to get out hard. I guess my reaction time to the gun was quicker,” he said. “I just kept pushing down on my lead leg and bringing it down each time and push it over my trail leg trying to beat him.”
Junior Michael-Jordan Morris of Amherst earned a return trip to states in the Division II 110 hurdles in 15.25.
“I was actually scared the whole race because I thought the guy to my right had me. And I thought someone to my left was catching me, too. So after every hurdle I was like I have to get better or they’re going to catch me. Usually I hit the hurdles with my back leg, and hit them on my ankle and so I kind of like have to power through them.”
Senior Mitch Fuller brought a title back to Lancaster as he won the Division I 100 meters. He got out of the blocks well, got into his drive phase and finished strong in 10:92. Junior Justice Milton of Sweet Home was second in 11.07. “I was trying to get back at Justice Milton (of Sweet Home), he beat me at ECICs and I wanted to get revenge,” said Fuller, who has signed with UB.
A freshman won the Division II 200 meters as Alex Dildy of Bennett finished in 22.71.
Heavy favorite Devon Patterson of Williamsville South dominated the Division I shot put in 63-3.75.
Allegany-Limestone went 1-2 in the Division II shot put thanks to junior Roman Greco (55-3) and senior Pete Harris (48-9.50). Nick Serafin of Depew and Jacob Haight of Barker both cleared 6-4 in the Division II high jump and advanced.
Dan Huben of Clarence defended his Section title in the Division I steeplechase in 9:32.71.