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Local track buffs know that nickname refers to the area's premier female middle-distance runner.

This weekend at UB Stadium, Clarence's Maureen Meldrim will try to complete a remarkable quadruple-double at the Section VI track and field championships: winning the sectional 1,500- and 3,000-meter titles for the fourth straight year.

"We've never had a girl like this," Clarence girls coach Dave Johnson said of the 5-foot, University of Massachusetts-bound Meldrim. "It's just amazing the way Mo has handled the pressure. There's always something weighing on her, some new person trying to challenge her."

Meldrim will try for her 3,000 title Friday night and will shoot for the 1,500 on Saturday. Friday's competition begins at 2 p.m. and includes trials in many events and a smattering of finals. Most of the finals are Saturday, when competition starts at noon.

Because this is the first time the meet has been at UB, competitors and coaches will be allowed to inspect the track Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from 4-5:30. No competitors are allowed unless accompanied by a coach.

Johnson said the all-weather track should be to everyone's liking in the wake of this spring's miserable weather.

"This is the worst spring we've had in my 25 years," said Johnson. "We've sent Mo to the Eddy Games (in Schenectady) and the Aquinas Relays (in Rochester) to get some good competition and simply to run in some better weather."

Meldrim won the 3,000 in Rochester and ran second at the Eddy Games to Saratoga star Cheri Goddard, whose season's best of 9:43.5 is almost 30 seconds better than anyone else in the state. Meldrim's 10:24.9 is tops in Section VI this season.

"Kids like Goddard hit that kind of competition every week," said Johnson. "This year, we moved down in division due to our enrollment and had at least 106 points in every meet. We were sweeping the 800, 1,500 and 3,000. That hurts kids in the long run."

A high placing at the state meet is about all that has escaped Meldrim in her career. Her best finish is an 11th in the 1,500 two years ago, one she hopes to eclipse June 10-11 at Baldwinsville.

"I think she puts some pressure on herself," said Johnson. "It's just so hard for kids from this section because of weather and the competition."

Meldrim, who also has a 4.47.7 in the 1,500, has been receiving specialized instruction for much of the season from Clarence boys coach Bill Davis to prepare her for post-season and college-level competition.

"Bill has done a fine job," said Johnson. "He has helped all the distance kids and brought them along. . . . (Former star Mary Pat) Hickey may have had more natural talent, but as far as work ethic goes, Mo is right up there."

While Meldrim seeks her state berth this weekend, St. Joe's senior Todd Grady earned his at Saturday's Catholic High School Athletic Association meet on Randall's Island. Grady posted a time of 9:31.7 to win the 3,200.

"He was disappointed with the time because it will kick him into the slower section at the states," said St. Joe's coach Jim Roland. "But I think he has a great shot to score. We've been gearing for the states all year. Now, we'll just have to do it the hard way."

Grady, who will attend Fredonia State next fall, has the fourth-fastest time in the state this year (9:25.5) and his only loss was to No. 3 Nathan Sacco of Penfield.

Maryvale moved into a tie with Orchard Park atop this week's Western New York Baseball Coaches Poll, thanks mostly to Dave Pyc's no-hitter with 18 strikeouts in Sunday's sectional win over Olean.

Dunkirk remains No. 1 among small schools, while Eden continues to be the top small school in softball.

The rankings figure to jumble significantly this week as sectional champions in both sports are scheduled to be crowned Saturday.

In Monday's Msgr. Martin Association baseball, St. Joe's (9-5 league) beat Canisius, 7-2, as Tom Lumberg pitched a two-hitter to improve his record to 7-1 and Mark Schneggenberger lined a two-run double. St. Mary's of Lancaster (9-7) beat Turner/Carroll, 6-1, and tripped Niagara Catholic, 5-2. Winning pitcher T.J. Jaroszewski hurled a three-hitter and collected three hits in the opener. Dan Wright allowed six hits in the nightcap. Kevin Kelleher's two hits in each game raised his average to .400.

Williamsville South's Michele Ralabate and Lancaster's Janine Spezio earned All-America honors at the National Association of High School Athletics gymnastics championships over the weekend in Chicago.

Ralabate finished second in the all-around with 37.55 points, taking second place in three events. Spezio was fourth in the all-around (36.40) and took a second on the vault. The top six in the all-around are considered All-Americans.

West Seneca West is seeking a varsity football coach. For information, contact Dr. Judith Harris at 643-5300, ext. 265.

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