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INJURED SPRINTER MCDERMOTT STILL HAS SHOT AT CHAMPIONSHIP

It's been a long indoor track season for Tirana McDermott.

Not because she hasn't competed well, but because she hasn't competed.

An injury has forced the two-time state sprint champion to the sidelines, but as the postseason approaches, so does the day the Jamestown senior returns to the track.

McDermott injured her ankle while playing soccer in the fall during the last game of the season. She chose rest and physical therapy over surgery, and is hoping to get medical clearance in time for the Section VI track championships Feb. 25 at Fredonia State.

"I went nuts when I found out I couldn't compete, it's been a little frustrating," McDermott said. "If I can, I'm going to try and compete in the sectionals. So I figure this is a good break. I probably won't get another one for four years."

McDermott figures to be busy in the years to come after signing a national letter of intent to attend Duke University. Combined, her athletic and academic package covers her full tuition and board. She plans a pre-medical course of study.

Duke's sprint coach, Mike Sheldon, saw all he needed to of McDermott at the Junior Olympic Nationals hosted at the University at Buffalo last July. But McDermott said the key to the offer was her grades, which convinced the Duke coaches she could also keep up at Duke academically.

McDermott said she's only about "70 percent" back from her injury, which occurred when she collided with a player from Williamsville North.

At last year's state meet in Syracuse she ran a 7.14 to win the 55-meter title. Her winning time as a sophomore was 7.12.

Record chasers

The Section VI girls long jump record is in danger of being broken by an eighth-grader. But not just any eighth-grader. Alyissa Hasan of Williamsville South has made a big impression in indoor track circles before she's even spent a day as a high school student.

Hasan is just 3/4 of an inch from the record of 18-feet-5. "I'm either planning to do it the 9th at (Buffalo State) or the sectionals," she said. "Or maybe I'll shoot to do it the 9th and break it again at the sectionals."

Senior Aaron Mitchell of Sweet Home is around 58 feet away from winning the state title in the shot put. His 58-feet-3 effort at the WNY Relays is tops in the state by nearly five feet, and it's one of the top throws in the Northeast. He isn't too far off the section record of 58-6 1/2 .

Sophomore Mike Williamson of Williamsville North couldn't be any closer to the Section VI record in the 55-meter dash. He has a 6.4 while the record is 6.3. The top runners in the state are at 6.1.

Boys on the move

Erich Smithson is the man to beat in the 55 hurdles again this season. The Iroquois senior ran a 7.75 in the trials at the Dartmouth Relays leaving him with the fourth-fastest time in the state. Last year his 8.01 was good enough to win sectionals. Smithson will also be tough in the high jump as his 6-feet-2 is tops in Western New York. .. . . Senior Bryan Weinstein of Williamsville North, the defending sectional champion in the 300, has the best time in Western New York at 37.0. . . . Kyle Pawlaczyk of Hamburg boasts the fastest time in the region in two events, the 1,000 and 1,600 meters. . . . . The sectional title in the 3,000 meters is Art Jozwiak's to lose. The JFK senior has the area's fastest time by a gaping 15 seconds. . . . The sectional long jump competition should be interesting with 1 2/3 inches separating the area's top three jumpers: Scott Limberg (Jamestown) 20-5, Ian Gipson (Williamsville East) 20-4 and Nick Gembar (Lancaster) 20-3 1/4 . . . It will only be a surprise if Chris Centrich of Hamburg does not win the pole vault at sectionals. The Hamburg senior leads Western New York by 2-feet-3 and is tied for fourth in the state with a season-best of 13-feet-9.

Girls on the move

Springville mid-distance runner Desiree Zielen-Ersing has accepted a Congressional appointment to West Point. . . . Alyissa Hasan of Williamsville South is ranked in the top three in six different events in Western New York. Some of her closest competition comes from teammate Ronnetta Alexander, who also specializes in the sprint and hurdle events. Both girls have a 7.9 in the 55 meters to their credit, which is the second-fastest time in the state. . . . Senior Heather Brough of West Seneca West looks to add to the WNY pole jump record she owns at 9-feet-6. The top jump in the state this year is 10-feet-9. . . . Senior April Pabilonia of Clarence is ranked in the state's top 15 in the long jump and top five in the triple jump. . . . Rachel Marks of Lake Shore is two inches shy of the state lead of 5-5 in the high jump. . . . At 38-5 1/2 , Sarah Vance of Lockport has the ninth farthest throw in the state in the shot put. . . . Tarynn Knarr of Iroquois and Jenny Koeppel of Amherst are ranked 1-2 locally in the 1,000 meters and 1,500.

Around the tracks

The 25-pound weight throw for boys and the 20-pound throw for girls is being introduced as an exhibition event this year with the idea it will be a state event next year. Sweet Home's Aaron Mitchell leads the region with a toss of 51-6 while junior Sarah Vance of Lockport leads the girls at 33-9. . . . Canisius, Nardin, Sacred Heart, St. Francis and St. Joe's competed under what Section VI boys chairman Trevor White called a "friends and neighbors" agreement. Because the Catholic schools aren't members of the section, they will not compete in the postseason meets.

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