There may not have been any actual physical contact, but there was a whole lot of pushing between runners at the Buffalo city track and field championships on Wednesday at All High Stadium.
City athletes helped by clouds that merely bluffed rain and the friendly push of strong competition produced some impressive times, especially between the league-champion Hutch-Tech Engineers and a competitive City Honors squad. Tech’s runners took 5 of 6 relay events on Wednesday, while the budding rivalry between sophomore girls produced a pair of league records at the annual meet.
“You don’t run good times in a vacuum, you run good times when you get pushed,” Hutch-Tech track coach Dave Sardo said. “There’s a saying among runners, you only run as fast as you have to to win. Nobody pushes themselves beyond what they have to. So they got pushed.”
The Engineers and Centaurs battled throughout the day, highlighted by sophomore duels between Honors sprinter Julia Ziaja and Tech’s Lynda Brundige. Ziaja bested Brundige in the 100-meter race with a league-record 11.7 seconds. Brundige later responded to her first loss in the 100 this year by setting the league record in the 200 with a 24.6-second sprint.
Both racers admitted the stiff competition brought out their best efforts.
“It was really nerve-wracking,” Ziaja said after her win in the 100. “All my motivation went into the competition with Lynda and I think that really pushed me to do my best today.”
Brundige went 3 for 4 in events on Wednesday, helping her squad win the 4x100 while anchoring the 4x400 team that won the meet’s final event. She, too, said the rivalry helped her snag a personal best on Wednesday.
Without Ziaja running, “I wouldn’t have done that,” Brundige said while catching her breath against a lacrosse net. “She definitely pushed me.”
Ziaja, meanwhile, added a win in the long jump to her second-straight 100-meter title.
The Centaurs also got a pair of wins from senior Jeriff Sanchez, who triumphed in the boys triple jump (41’ 1.5”) as well as the 110 hurdles (16 seconds), avenging a second-place finish last season. They also claimed the only relay not won by Tech on Wednesday, with the team of Daneva Moncrieffe, Rachael Ruhland, Hannah Murphy and Emily Pyne finishing first in the 4x800 relay.
Hutch-Tech saw senior Jamie McQuiller win the 400 hurdles race in his first year running the event. Sardo said the senior took to hurdles “like a duck to water” this winter and came out on top despite a slight scare when he clipped the last hurdle.
In other events, Olmstead’s Brittany Higgs claimed top honors in the 800- and 1,500-meter races, even managing to take a celebratory “selfie” with her medal on the podium. Bennett freshman Alex Dildy won the 100 (10.7 seconds) and 200-meter (22.3 seconds) races on the boys side with state-qualifying times in both events.
With the Section VI meet next up on May 30-31 in Olean, coaches hope the bump in competition continues to bring the best out of their teams.
“They’re pushing each other,” McCabe said of City Honors and Hutch-Tech. “Hopefully they’re pushing each other right into states.”