Close-knit Cheektowaga relay wins state title in Division II 4x800 - The Buffalo News
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Close-knit Cheektowaga relay wins state title in Division II 4x800

CICERO – There isn’t anything the Cheektowaga boys 4x800 relay wouldn’t do for each other. On Saturday they took that to the ultimate, winning the Division II title at the New York State Track and Field Championships.

Their time of 7:52.01 not only destroyed their school record, it came within .95 of the Section VI record. Kobe Walenka, Jack Behlmaier, Noah McGee and Tim Whelan were the winning Warriors as they blew past several Division I schools on the track at Cicero-North Syracuse.

Whelan described his team’s run as amazing and talked about what a great bond he shares with his teammates.

“We don’t just run for ourselves, we run for each other. You know the other three guys are giving out and you have to give even more,” he said. “We do all our workouts together, we hang out together. We give ourselves little motivations to run for each other and this is the greatest thing ever.”

Cheektowaga won the only boys title for Section VI on this day, but there was a Section VI record broken.

T.J. Hornberger tore his hip number off his shorts and slapped it on the front of his gym bag saying he wanted to remember the last race of his high school career. Who could blame him?

The Lake Shore senior used the occasion of the 1,600 meters to break his own Section VI mark. He ran a 4:10.21 finishing third while bettering his record run of 4:12.77 at the Section VI championships a week earlier.

“I’m happy I got 4:10. It would have been great to have won a state championship, but it’s all good, it was a good last race,” said Hornberger, who will run for Syracuse University next year.

Hornberger went out hard and led until the final 200 meters. He was especially motivated after his disappointing 800 meter race the night before in which he got boxed in. “The guys had such a strong kick in the last 200 I was just trying to hold on,” said Hornberger. “They were just using my energy and I didn’t have much left.”

Corey Wefing of Maple Grove, one day removed from his Division II state title in the 800, placed third in the 1,600 at 4:17.29.

Dan Huben of Clarence also saved his best for last, breaking his own school record in the 3,000 steeplechase with a 9:24.94, good for fourth place. He was fifth a year ago. Huben has signed with the University of Cincinnati in the fall.

“I was not happy with my barrier work today, but I am happy with the results and my ability to stay strong during the 3K part of the race,” he said.

While Hornberger and Huben are ending their careers, a very promising career is just beginning.

Freshman Alex Dildy of Bennett placed fourth in the Division II 100 meters in 11:09. He won his race in prelims on Friday in 10.98. His coach Randy Rakowski said Dildy went from beating friends in his neighborhood a year ago to the state finals this year.

“He definitely has a gift,” said Rakowski. “This is a big thing. I already explained to him it already is an accomplishment being here. There aren’t too many freshman who actually come to a state meet and get medals. There’s a lot of competition out there and to be at this level is definitely impressive.”

The boys shot put proved a fan favorite as fans stood three deep along a snow fence. They did not go home disappointed as Ben Bonhurst of Smithtown West broke the meet record with a throw of 67 feet, 3 inches. The previous record of 65-4.50 had stood since 1985.

Devon Patterson of Williamsville South and Tony DeYoung of Lancaster finished third and fifth respectively in the shot put. Patterson’s best effort was 62-8 while DeYoung’s best was 57-11.75.

Section VI landed a pair of state runners-up as Bryce Moeller of Barker was second in the Division II pentathlon. He scored 3,335 points falling by 43 points. Teddy Okon of Clarence cleared 6-4 in the Division I high jump.

David Hedberg of Jamestown was named co-recipient of the State Association’s Official of the Year award, Southwestern Chapter.


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