Western New York’s old long-distance running studs can perform quite well in the 800, too.
With their focus off the 3,200, Lake Shore’s T.J. Hornberger and Maple Grove’s Cory Wefing raced to titles in the boys 800-meter run Friday at the Section VI track and field championships at Olean.
Both seniors had nearly identical personal record times that also broke the eight-year-old track record. Hornberger won in Division I in 1:53.29, while Wefing prevailed in Division II in 1:53.89. Both are also No. 1 seeds in their divisions for today’s 1,600 meters.
Hornberger set the Section VI record in the 3,200 a year ago but didn’t compete in the event after missing the first six weeks of the season with an injured IT band. He won the 800 Friday by more than 3 seconds. His teammate, junior Cal Butlak, actually finished first in the 3,200 this year.
“I’m slowly getting back into things,” said Hornberger, who has a Division I scholarship to Syracuse. “This year I just didn’t have enough time to get my aerobic base up to where I wanted to, so I just started to focus on the lower events – because I still have a lot of my speed left.”
Wefing had won the Division II 3,200 championship the last two years and is bound for Edinboro.
“My whole running career in high school, I’ve been really just focused on the two-mile,” he said. “This year, I dropped down just to try something new. I feel like my sprinting speed would be more of an advantage in these mid-distance events. It turns out to be a pretty good decision.”
Hornberger, Wefing and Butlak were among Friday’s 18 first-place finishers who advance to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships next Friday and Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse.
Friday’s events were mostly preliminaries for today’s finals. Competition resumes at noon today.
Frontier junior McKyla Brooks, last year’s Division I state champion in the girls triple jump, broke the Section VI record in that event with a leap of 39-3 on her second attempt of trials.
Reigning Division II state champion Stephanie Lombardo of Cheektowaga captured the shot put crown. The senior’s throw of 41½ was nearly 5 feet better than the second-place finisher’s and earned her a third straight trip to the state meet.
“I’m pretty happy that I hit 41 again because I’ve been having a love-hate relationship with the shot put all year,” she said with a laugh. “I’m happy that it’s all coming together, I’m feeling good and it’s happening at the right time.”
Lombardo is also seeded first for discus, which she won at sectionals a year ago.
East Aurora had two girls claim titles in Division II – senior Marta McLaughlin in the 800 (2:17.21) and sophomore Fiona Danieu in the 3,000 (10:38.26).
It’s the fifth time McLaughlin will move on to states for the 800, but this one is special. Her brother, Matt, a sophomore, also qualified in the 800 by placing second to Wefing and meeting the state-qualifying standard. He ran an East Aurora school record-setting time of 1:55.66.
“We’re really excited to be going together,” Marta McLaughlin said.
In boys Division I, Orchard Park’s Dawson Hillis and Niagara Falls’ DiJon Stone were winners in discus and long jump, respectively.
Winning girls Division I titles were West Seneca West’s Abigail Jankowski (800), Clarence’s Marissa Saenger (3,000), Lockport’s Kristen Sawyer (pole vault) and Grand Island’s Jess Dhaliwall (shot put).