CICERO – Lancaster’s McKenzie Kuehlewind and Grand Island’s Jess Dhaliwall stood atop the winner’s podium together for the last time as high school athletes on Friday.
The future college roommates and track athletes for the Class of 2018 at the University at Buffalo finished first and second in Division I for the shot put in the New York State High School Track and Field Championships at Cicero-North Syracuse High School. Kuehlewind avenged a close loss to Dhaliwall at sectionals last week with an effort of 44 feet, 4¼ inches to win by just over 2 inches.
Each girl attributed her own success to the other’s efforts.
“We’ve been going back and forth the past two years,” Kuehlewind said. “It’s easier with her, she pushes me because she’s right at the same point. It’s nice to beat someone who’s beaten me before.”
According to Dhaliwall, the friendship ends and the rivalry begins as soon as they step into the throwing circle.
“We know that once we step into the circle, we can have that rivalry,” Dhaliwall said. “We’re comfortable with it. We love it. We push each other so much but, at the same time, we’re really good friends. It’s nice to have someone so close to you pushing you. That’s why we chose to be roommates.”
Dhaliwall’s day was not over after the second-place finish, however. She competed in – and won – the discus throw, earning a state championship just a year after fouling out of the same event.
Dhaliwall’s longest throw went 153-9, more than 11 feet longer than the closest competition. Yet, she missed her personal best by nearly 8 inches.
“I didn’t do my best today, so I’m not too happy,” Dhaliwall said. “But I’m excited to finally have a state championship under my belt.”
In other Section VI throwing action, Stephanie Lombardo of Cheektowaga had a fantastic day, finishing first in both the Division II shot put and discus throw. In the shot put, which she also won last year, Lombardo threw 42-3 and in the discus she threw it 134-5.
Frontier’s McKyla Brooks had quite a day jumping but couldn’t retain her state title in the triple jump. She finished second with a jump of 38 feet, 6ß inches.
The four-time state meet veteran followed that with a leap of 19-1¼ in the long jump, good for third in Division I.
The junior is verbally committed to Stony Brook for both volleyball and track and field.
Section VI’s success was not limited to the field events on Friday.
Sophia Tasselmyer of East Aurora won the Division II 3,000-meter run, coming in at 10:02.69.
Tasselmyer, a sophomore, made the state meet as a freshman in 2013 but finished the 3,000 in 22nd place. She considered the race a disappointment and used it as motivation this year.
“Coming back this year, it was exciting because I finally got redemption for how poorly I did last year,” Tasselmyer said, adding that motivation “was definitely a big factor.”
For Division II 400-meter hurdles, sophomore Hannah Seiders of Silver Creek finished second at 1:04.65.
The meet continues today.
One Section VI athlete to keep an eye on is Mckenna Maycock of Randolph. The junior, who’s verbally committed to play basketball at St. Bonaventure, is third in the pentathlon after three events.