Much of the time, top athletes sit out the Erie County Interscholastic Conference track and field championships, preferring to rest up for sectional or state championships.
This year was different, though, as the majority of the top athletes took part in, and dominated, the ECIC championships that were held Saturday morning at Depew High School.
Six athletes won multiple events, highlighted by Williamsville East senior Kala Allen, who took the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes.
"It was one of my goals coming into this year to be a triple winner," said Allen, who's won the 400 for the past five years and is a two-time state champion in the race. "It feels really good to accomplish something I set out to do."
Allen was nearly matched by her counterpart on the boys' side, Cheektowaga's Marquel Jackson. The junior, who stars in football and basketball, won the 100- and 200-meter dashes in his first year competing in track, during which he set multiple school records.
"I don't take second as an option," Jackson shouted after winning the 200.
Much like the sprints, the distance races were dominated by single athletes on the boys' and girls' sides.
Lake Shore sophomore T.J. Hornberger won the boys' 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, while Clarence sophomore Marissa Saenger won the girls' 1,500 and 3,000.
"I never really thought about running until sixth grade," Hornberger said. "We ran the mile in gym and I did well, and the next season I was running modified cross country. I'm hoping I can keep it going and win these two races in sectionals."
"It feels like all the hard work we put in all year paid off," Saenger said. "I hope I can do this well next week."
Williamsville South senior Kailyn Arcury was also a double winner, taking the girls' 100-meter hurdles and the long jump.
The field events were highlighted by season-best performances in the boys' pole vault and girls' shot put, along with two double winners in the jumps.
Sweet Home's Stephanie Izard and Amherst's Jailyn Twitty were both double winners. Izard took the girls' high and triple jumps, while Twitty took the boys' long and triple.
Hamburg's Jared Brucker won the pole vault with a state-qualifying height of 13 feet, 9 inches. It was a personal record as well as the top jump in the conference this year.
Bruckner, who finished fifth in outdoor states, said he's aiming even higher for this year's championships.
"I'm not sure how high I'll have to jump to win (states)," he said. "I'll have to wait until I can size up the competition for that.
"I'm aiming for 14-6, though. I've gotten close a few times in practice and think I can clear it."
Lancaster sophomore McKenzie Kuehlwind won the girls' shot put with a throw of 40- 1/4 inch. It was her personal best and puts her second to St. Mary's of the Deaf's Crystal Marion, who had a throw measure 41-2.
"I've been working a lot on my technique, especially in the circle," Kuehlwind said. "Just little things like making sure I release at the top of my throw can give me a little extra distance."
Next week's Section VI Championships will be held Friday and Saturday at Lewiston-Porter High School.