Lake Shore sophomore T.J. Hornberger, who has been waiting all season for some competition in the 1,600 meters, got his fill at the boys Section VI Track and Field Championships.
So much so, he actually trailed upset-minded Kalen Sullivan of West Seneca West at the 200-meter mark. He was able to retake the lead on the final straightaway and finished in 4:24.99, while Sullivan settled for the runner-up spot in 4:25.56.
"This was actually a pretty good group of guys for the mile so I was excited to see what was going to happen," said Hornberger, later named the Division I track events MVP. "I love how tons of guys stepped it up in this race today."
Sullivan lamented what could have been as Hornberger remained undefeated in the event. "That's the difference between middle distance running and distance running," said Sullivan, who won the 800 on Friday. "He's a strong two-miler and a strong cross country runner. I'm quicker at the shorter distances. He just outlasted me down the stretch."
The 1,600 race was one of many highlights at the annual event, which concluded on a windy, yet dry, Saturday at Lew-Port. The meet was also a qualifier for next week's New York State Championships at Cicero-North Syracuse.
Hornberger won the 3,200 on Friday night, making him a double winner. Coming away with three victories in Division I was senior Wayne Gordon of Sweet Home, winner of the 100 and 200 and anchor of the Panthers' winning 4x100 relay. It was only his third 100-meter race of the season. He's been running the 200 all season and takes an unbeaten record into states.
"As soon as you make the turn and get to the straightaway, you can feel the wind pushing you back. Your form is everything and the wind is trying to break it, but you have to stay strong and keep driving," Gordon said.
Also winning two events was Lancaster senior Jordan Kihl, who won the shot put for the second year in a row to follow up his win in the discus on Friday. Kihl, named the field events MVP, will throw next year at Binghamton.
Senior Jailyn Twitty of Amherst won the long jump Friday and went 46-10 to win the triple jump Saturday.
In the closest race of the day, senior Nick Konotopskyj of Williamsville North ran a 10:00.35 in the steeplechase to outlean senior Justin Bender of Clarence, who was right there in 10:00.37.
Senior Brian Bannister of Sweet Home earned his first trip to states after he won the 400 hurdles in 54.71. "Somewhere around the 300 I was trying to close down a little bit. I didn't think anybody was going to catch me. Then I gave it everything I could in the last 100," he said.
Clarence senior Brian Cummiskey said he used his closing speed to run a 49.62 in the 400, edging out Ezra Nwachukwu of Lockport. "I just kept strong and tried to stay relaxed," he said.
Kenmore West senior Marcus Lobdell played it safe, didn't got for a personal record in any of the five pentathlon events, yet still won with 3,216 points. "They were all satisfactory, but I didn't really push any of them as much as I think I could have, especially in the mile," he said. "I'll get in a hard practice this week and come back a lot stronger for states."
Brandon Joyce of Niagara Falls cleared 6-foot-8 to defend his title in the high jump.
Tom Moran of Starpoint cleared his season best 13-6 to win the pole vault.
DIVISION II: Senior Daryl Spencer of Cleveland Hill added to a pair of impressive streaks. He won the 110 hurdles for the second year in a row and the 400 hurdles for a third time. He said his win in the 110s in 14:84 was, "by far the best race I had all year. This time I had more people with me pushing me harder. I always hear someone coming so I try to run faster," he said. Spencer was the Division I track events MVP. He's going to Cortland next year, where he will play football.
Senior Mike Prevorse of Pioneer added the shot put title to the discus crown he won Friday and was named the field events MVP.
Tyler Plaud of Olean swept the sprints with an 11.45 in the 100 and a 23.07 in the 200.
Senior Jeremy Rushok of Akron ran a 4:26.29 in the 1,600 to win the section title for the third year in a row. He also won the Class C title in cross country in the fall.
Senior Anthony Schwartz's win in the 400 was an eye-opener. The Randolph senior won in 50.24. "When I woke up this morning I didn't expect to win this race. So I'm in shock right now. I turned it up, this was my last chance to go to states," he said. Schwartz was also on the Cardinals' winning 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
Trevin Barker of Allegany-Limestone had personal bests in the long jump (19-9), shot put (41-6) and 110 hurdles (15.74) to win the pentathlon. East Aurora's Larkin Bohanan, Elliott Martynkiewicz, Brendan Keany and Sean Phillips ran away with the 4x800 in 8:10.04. Gene Baritot of the Blue Devils won the steeplechase in 9:53.77.