West Seneca West's girls' 800-meter relay team of Morgan Billi, Nicole Castilloux, Jillian O'Brien and Kelsey Randall became the first female team to break a Section VI mark in nearly two seasons when they set the standard in the event Jan. 19 at the Yale Invitational.
And there's a good chance others may become record setters, too, before the season ends in March -- with North Tonawanda's 1,600 relay team and Lancaster's Melissa Kurzdorfer perhaps having the best shots.
The West Seneca West foursome that features three juniors and a sophomore (Castilloux) finished in 1:46.93 to break the 6-year-old sectional record by .03.
Of the 16 girls' sectional marks, seven now have been set since 2000.
NT's foursome of Jackie Burns, Val Rosart, Casey Green and Bridget Montesanti are .6 seconds off Clarence's sectional mark set in 1999. Burns, the defending sectional 600 champion, also is close to breaking the 23-year-old event record. Burns' best effort this season is 1:39.44. The record belongs to former Williamsville East athlete Sonja Robinson (1:34.7).
Kurzdorfer is edging close to breaking the 14-year-old shot put record of 45-1 set by Sweet Home's Jackie Sedgwick. Kurzdorfer, the defending section champ, hit 44-5 last Saturday.
The last boy to set a sectional mark was Kenmore East's Justin Craddock in 2004 in the 600.
"It's cyclical," JFK coach Pete Szymanski said. "It just so happens the girls right now are in a youth movement . . . [and] right away these new faces are making names for themselves."
West Seneca West coach and Section VI girls chairman Emilio Mancino said there are three reasons why females have had an easier time breaking records than in past seasons.
"The quality of the athlete with respect to the time the athlete now spends preparing for their competition . . . the type of facilities the athletes compete in along with better training methods, and . . . coaching," Mancino said. "I think coaches are being more progressive in what [training methods] they're incorporating in practice. . . . I just think the sport has come a long way in terms of understanding how the body works."
Veteran boys shine
Defending section shot put champion Rob Golabek and high jumper Willie Jones have the best shots of breaking the cold streak on the boys side when it comes to setting sectional records. Golabek, a Frontier senior, hit 56-feet last Saturday, which is 2-6 1/2 from the mark set in 1998. Golabek has already hit the state qualifying standard in the event. Amherst's Jones has cleared 6-5 in the high jump, the sectional mark currently 6-11 3/4 .
Whether or not records are chased down on the boys side, there are enough talented veterans grouped closely together among the leaders in various events that there still will be plenty of drama during the Feb. 24 Section VI State Qualifier at Fredonia State.
The biggest dog fight could be among the pole vaulters, as the trio of senior Greg Craft (JFK), junior Ryan Pericozzi (Lancaster) and senior Lou Anastasi (North Tonawanda) already cleared the state qualifying height of 13-0. Craft is the current leader, setting a school record (13-6) in winning the title Jan. 20 at the Yale Invitational. The sectional mark is 15-1 1/2 .
Those who hit state qualifying standards before sectionals can go to the March 3 state meet at Cornell provided they finish in the top three at sectionals.
Around the track
*Williamsville South ninth-grader Allie Van Buren is the only runner with a time of under 9.0 seconds in the 55 hurdles, but she's not the only youngster to be a front-runner among the girls. Freshman Brenna Symoniak of Amherst and eighth-grader Vicky Luongo of West Seneca West have the first and third best times, respectively, in the 3,000.
*Newfane senior Brianna Steel's specialty during the outdoor season is the pentathlon. Since the pentathlon isn't contested during indoor, she participates in various events during the winter to help prepare for the spring season. She has the top result in the high jump and third-best time in the hurdles.
*Lockport senior John Haenle will run collegiately for Ivy League school Brown. He's the defending Section VI 1,600 champion.