ALBANY – Frontier’s McKyla Brooks was frustrated, upset and clearly needed a break from competing at the girls’ state track and field championship meet when Mother Nature answered the senior’s prayers Friday night.
Thunder, a sign of an approaching storm about to roll through the area, prompted officials to suspend the meet at University at Albany and pick the competition up on Saturday morning where it left off.
After having a bad day in the triple jump Friday, the past state champion in that event got a chance to collect her thoughts and calm down for the long jump, perhaps her best event, and the last event of her scholastic career.
The break did wonders for Brooks. After coming up just short of winning the Division I state public schools title Saturday morning, she crushed her long jump during the Federation-portion of the competition later in the day to win the overall state championship.
Brooks, who holds Section VI records in the long and triple jumps, captured the long jump crown with a leap of 18 feet, 2.75 inches to edge Leah Moran of Holy Names by nearly three inches. In the public schools-portion of the jumping competition, Bay Shore’s Avianna Goode won with a distance of 18-2.25. She could do no better than fourth in the rematch, which included top Division II finishers as well as private and New York City schools.
“I had the speed, I was up in the air and I knew exactly when I did it. It felt great,” Brooks said. “It’s my senior year. I had to go out with a bang.”
She’s not the only female who returned home as a champion. Alden’s Hailey Rospierski won her second state title in as many years but this time won the Division II 100 hurdles.
The last day of competition was a decent one for Western New York’s female athletes.
Seven placed second either in Division I or II events. Sweet Home’s Sam Peterman, who suffers from Neurocardiogenic Syncope, finished fifth in the 1,500 but bettered her own personal best and just missed setting the school record (4:30.79).
Brooks, who will play volleyball and compete in track and field at Stony Brook, turned nothing into something in under 24 hours. Brooks, who has been dealing with some back pain, barely broke 37 feet Friday during her six jump attempts.
The distance was not enough to qualify her for the Federation final. She stewed about that until it was almost time to compete in the long jump. Then almost went from 7 p.m. Friday to roughly 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
“I’m very happy that happened,” Brooks said of the delay. “It gave me more time to prepare myself. It’s very weird. Sometimes I’ll do very well in triple jump, sometimes I’ll do very well in the long jump. It depends, but I believe I’m better at long jump.”
Meanwhile Rospierski, who also took third in Division II high jump Saturday, is now a multi-time state champion who has a chance of returning for more next season. She captured the hurdles title with a time of 14.66, beating the runner-up by a half-second.
Although she won a state title last year, Rospierski said there’s a difference between winning a running and field event.
“Everyone’s cheering for you and pushing you,” she said, while noting the field events are a little more insular and harder to hear crowd. “It feels good. I worked hard In the offseason to get to where I am.”
In Division I, Brooks’ teammate Rebecca Stiefler came in second in both the Federation shot put and discus, setting a school record in the shot (42-4.5).
While Brooks authored a happy ending, Sweet Home’s Tiana Luton was disappointed after her dream of winning a state title was dashed by Bayport’s Kathleen Cibuls in the last event of the pentathlon competition, the 800. Luton entered the event in second place but was 52 points ahead of the eventual winner and 257 points behind the third-place finisher from a New York City school.
That meant all Luton had to do was earn enough points, or at least finish ahead of Cibuls, to win the state public schools title. But both runners set personal bests in the event with Cibuls edging Luton, 3,425 to 3,401, for the championship.
“There were a lot of things I could’ve done differently but it just depends on the day but she did very, very well,” Luton said.
Luton’s teammate, Peterman, was thrilled to beat her previous-best time in the 1,500 by nine seconds. She just missed matching the school record of 4:30.23 by .48.
“I can’t even describe the feeling,” said Peterman, who as per custom fainted into her father’s awaiting arms after crossing the finish line due to her medical condition.
“Just knowing I can do that (run that fast) makes me feel like I can do anything I put my mind to.”
Another Sweet Home Panther, Sadira Brown, took second in the Federation triple jump (38-2.25), while Lancaster sophomore Olivia Gervan took second among public school competitors in the high jump with a PR of 5-6.
Also in Division II, Holland’s Megan Caltagirone dropped into second place in the steeplechase during the final 150 after doing something she had never done before in the competition: lose her balance on the bar and splash face first into the water. She placed second at states last year, too.
“I’m actually very happy even though I fell,” she said. “I came back strong.”
• East Aurora’s 4x800 crew of Fiona Danieu, Molly McLaughlin, Maisy Webster and Sophia Tasselmyer took second in 9:17.68.
• Pioneer’s Justyn Milks (38-3.75) and Springville’s Jessica Wade (37-7.25) went second and third in the shot put.
• Mckenna Maycock of Randolph ended her scholastic athletic career by placing fifth in the Federation 400-meter hurdles race.
• Tapestry’s 4x100 girls relay team ended its magical season by placing fifth in the Federation a day after winning the Division II championship in school-record fashion.
“I know they’re a little disappointed … but after they sit down and think about it they’ll be amazed at what they did,” said coach Dan Tryon of the foursome that became the first relay team in Tapestry history to not only win a sectional title but a state one, too.