When 19 runners sign up for the 1,600 meters, that's a pretty good sign your track team has some serious depth.
That was one of the many "dilemmas" facing this year's Clarence team. The Red Devils have 76 athletes on the team after 90 came out for track.
"This is my first year back into track, and I walk in and I couldn't believe the talent," said assistant boys coach Frank Payne. "The success they had in cross country just continues into track. There's depth all over the place."
For years, the Clarence school record in the 100 meters had been shared by six runners at 11.0. Now senior Brian Cumminsky stands alone after his 10.9 in the Fleet Feet Invitational at All High Stadium. He's excited for a matchup against Sweet Home's Wayne Gordon in the 100 and 200 at the Carl Roesch.
Senior Alex Eaton won the steeplechase at Saturday's Wildcat Relays at Depew. He was on the Red Devils' championship cross country team, along with Justin Bender, who is back from a hip injury suffered indoors and ready to run the 3,200.
Jon Kuberka is 41-foot triple jumper and 20-foot long jumper.
Senior James Willy, who tore his ACL against Niagara Falls in football, rehabbed all winter and is back. He ran his personal best in the 200 last week. Junior Ben Reinhardt has run the 800 in 1:57. The team's top hurdler is junior Dan Rogers; he also runs the 4x400. Sophomore Ted Okon has cleared 6-foot-6 in the high jump.
The Clarence girls feature Jacquie Huben, who broke the meet record in the steeplechase at Depew and is the defending sectional champion in the event. Senior Kaitlin McCadden won the 3,000 sectional title indoors. Senior Katelyn Tresino can be counted on in the 800, 1,500, 4x800, 4x400 and the distance medley relay. Kristin George won the 100 and 400 hurdles at Fleet Feet and can triple jump.
>Boys in the fast lane
Returning Sect. VI champs:
Division I: 10 0/2 00, Wayne Gordon (Sweet Home); 1,600, Kalen Sullivan (West Seneca West); 3,200, TJ Hornberger (Lake Shore); long/triple jumps, Jailyn Twitty (Amherst); high jump, Brandon Joyce (Niagara Falls); pole vault, Jared Brucker (Hamburg); shot put, Jordan Kihl (Lancaster); pentathlon, Marcus Lobdell (Kenmore West).
Division II: 400, Bobby Liebel (Tonawanda); 800,Tyler Scheving (Barker); 1,600, Jeremy Rushok (Akron); 11 0/4 00 hurdles, Daryl Spencer (Cleveland Hill); discus/shot put, Mike Prevorse (Pioneer); triple jump, Eddie Marshall (Dunkirk).
Barker senior Tyler Scheving is the defending state champion in the Division II 800 meters. His time of 1:54.31 broke the league and school record.
He has signed a partial tuition scholarship with the University at Buffalo where he will study chemistry and run cross country and track.
"Training-wise, everything seems to be falling together," he said. "I sacrificed my senior year of basketball to work out with my track coach [James Jurewicz] every day over the winter. Right off the bat, I set school records in the 200 (22.8) and 400 (50.13). That was all meant to work on my speed for the 800. Now I see at this time of year I'm hitting those times that I'll need to defend my title."
Sophomore TJ Hornberger of Lake Shore is undefeated this season in open events, his latest triumphs coming Friday in the 1,600 and 3,200 at Dunkirk. He won last year's sectional title in the 3,200 and was second to West Seneca West's Kalen Sullivan in the 1,600. He sees Pioneer's Nate Smith as presenting his toughest challenge in the 3,200 and will have to outfox Sullivan to win the 1,600.
He said placing in the top five in states in both events is one of his goals. "I've been doing a lot of speed training, which helps with my kick, intervals training and a little bit of weight lifting to get upper body strength," he said. "I want to be good all-around so it will help me."
St. Francis' impressive win of the Olean Invitational sends a message that the Red Raiders are for real. The 4x400 relay of Alex Schaffstall, Andy Hayes, Dominic Buccieri and Darrick Weyrough ran a meet and school record 3:27.83 to clinch the winning points. Senior Akeel Lynch broke the meet records in the 100 and 200. Lynch has signed with Penn State for football.
"Those four boys from the 4x400 and Akeel make us very formidable on the track," said coach Steve Otremba. "I really have a lot of good kids."
St. Francis is the two-time defending champion of the All-Catholic meet. The Red Raiders have five senior jumpers who are going to score a lot of points: Cody Tehan, Dominic Mendola, Joe Clifford, Bill Fitzgerald and Zachary Wells.
St. Joe's won last year's Monsignor Martin Association regular season title. Dominik Kosar leads WNY in the shot and Lawrence Williams should have a nice battle with Buccieri of St. Francis for the All-Catholic title in the 400.
Look for Cheektowaga to have a big year. Junior Marquel Jackson set the Maroon Classic record in the 100 at 10.88. He runs a sub-22 in the 200 and in the 4x100. Corey DeWald does the jumps and relays, along with Dallas Taylor and Damel Battey, on the 4x400 that went to states last year.
Senior Daryl Spencer of Cleveland Hill brought home third places in the Division II 400 and 110 hurdles in last year's state meet. He won the 400H two years in a row at sectionals. He went from an All-ECIC IV all-star season in basketball to opening the track season with a 14.5 in the 110s. He'll play football at Cortland in the fall.
Amherst senior Jailyn Twitty will be among the WNY leaders all season in the long and triple jumps.
Lancaster senior Jordan Kihl is the New York State indoor track champion in the shot put and was fourth in the state in the Division I shot outdoors. Part of his offseason training was spent at Absolute Performance.
Redskin senior Craig Kaiser ran his season-best (4:40) in the 1,600 at Saturday's Wildcat Relays. Rob Miller is the top sprinter. Long and triple jumper Leo Grucella has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field for The Citadel.
Six-foot-6 senior Brandon Joyce of Niagara Falls considers himself a high jumper who triple jumps, but on Saturday at the Wildcat Relays he cracked the 46-foot barrier, setting his personal record. Joyce won the state indoor title in the high jump, clearing 6-10.
"I'm just hoping to match that [outdoors,]" said Joyce, who will continue his career at Buffalo State. "The triple jump is not my best event, but I hope to place at states. I feel like when I'm relaxed and just having fun with it, I do better."
After finishing second at states last year in the pentathlon, Marcus Lobdell set goals this year that are very clear. The Kenmore West senior is looking to be more consistent in his high jump and hurdles. He's also starting to focus on his 800.
The first big test for senior sprinter Wayne Gordon of Sweet Home will be the Big South Invitational in Richmond, Va., on May 11. He will run in one of only two heats. Gordon is the two-time Section VI defending champion in the 100 and 200. In the recent indoor track nationals he finished sixth in the 60 meters and fourth in the 200, earning All-America status in both events.
Pioneer has won an impressive eight straight ECIC league titles. The Panthers' Mike Prevorse was the field events MVP of the Olean Invitational after winning both throws. Senior Nate Andres and Jared Bliss excel in the middle distances.
Williamsville North is the defending champion of the Carl Roesch, scheduled this year for May 19.
Andy Smigiera of West Seneca East, MVP of the track events at the Dunkirk Invitational, welcomes all challengers in the 100 and 200.
Lockport has a solid 400 runner in Erza Nwachukwu and Tommy Furlong looks tough to beat in the shot.
East Aurora's Larkin Bohanan, Brendan Keany, Matt Nason and Elliott Martynkiewicz broke the meet record (8:23.20) in the 4x800 at the Dunkirk Invitational.
>Girls in the fast lane
Returning Section VI champions:
Division I: 10 0/4 00, Kala Allen (Wmsv. East); 100 hurdles, Kailyn Arcury (Wmsv. South); 400 hurdles, Emily Irish-Ryan (Amherst); 2,000 steeplechase, Jacquie Huben (Clarence); shot put, McKenzie Kuehlewind (Lancaster); high jump, Alex Brown (Grand Island); triple jump, McKyla Brooks (Frontier); long jump, Jazlyn Porter (Niagara Falls); discus, Keeley Raylea (Lockport); pole vault, Taylor Bates (Lockport); pentathlon, Stephanie Izard (Sweet Home).
Division II: 100, Christina Walter (Maple Grove); 200, Eliza Dewart (Barker); 400, Mckenna Maycock (Randolph); 800, Marta McLaughlin (East Aurora); 1,500, Sarah Anstett (East Aurora); 100 hurdles, Alyssa Handley (Alden); 2,000 steeplechase, Shannon Murphy (Falconer); triple/long jump, Mikayla Pearce (Maryvale); high jump, Ashley Peterson (Allegany-Limestone).
West Seneca West's 4x400 of Kathleen Zimmer, Abby Jankowski, Katherine Connors and Brianna Colello ran a 4:09.71 at the Penn Relays, the top time in WNY. The Indians, who moved into ECIC I, have wins over Orchard Park and Clarence, and look to challenge three-time champion Frontier for the title. Emily Krasinski and McKyla Brooks are two of the Falcons' top athletes. Krasinski was third in the state in the Division I 800 last year.
Sophomore Marta McLaughlin and senior Allyssa McLaughlin return from East Aurora's 3,200 relay, which broke the Section VI record at nationals last year by running a 9:11.85. Marta just broke the meet record in the 800 at the Dunkirk meet. The Blue Devils boast their usual lineup of standout middle distance runners led by the McLaughlins, Paige Anderson, Rebekah Zee, Hannah Rice and Hannah Hitchcock.
Senior Kailyn Arcury of Williamsville South was the only girl from Section VI to win an outdoor state title last year. Her 14.28 in the 100 hurdles won by a mere .01. Her season best was 14.26.
Mikayla Pearce of Maryvale will sign her national letter of intent for Syracuse today in the school's Alumni Hall. She is coming off an indoor season where she won the New York State title in the long jump. Outdoors, she's been the state runner-up the last two years in the long jump.
Kala Allen, who has won two state titles in the 400, is back for her senior year at Williamsville East. She is the Section VI record holder in the event at 54.61. She has signed a scholarship with the University of Miami (Ohio).
Senior Stephanie Izard of Sweet Home was fourth in the state in the pentathlon. She finished second in the indoor nationals in the pent and fourth in the high jump, making All-America.
Lockport won the Dunkirk Invitational with impressive performances from Keeley Ralyea in the discus and its 4x100 relay of J'Vonna Clarke, Kailyn Szymanski, Elizebeth Ellis and Faith Heal.
This track season will wrap up the memorable career of three-sport athletes Jenna and Lexi Panepinto of Kenmore West. The duo is extremely versatile on the track. They will play soccer in the fall at Colgate.
Senior Crystle Marion of St. Mary's School for the Deaf is the WNY leader in the shot put at 41-2. That throw, which came against Falk on April 19, qualified her for the World Games for the Deaf. She is 8 1/2 inches from the current USA Deaf Track & Field record of 41-10 held since 1988 by Brenda Bessner of Washington School for the Deaf.
McKenzie Kuehlewind leads Lancaster in the throws. Immaculata senior Kaitlyn Lopez was second in the Federation in the triple jump. Senior Ashley Peterson of Allegany-Limestone was the Division II state runner-up in the high jump. Senior Malayah White of Mount St. Mary finished in the top five in the 100 and 200 at Feds last year. Junior Sarah Loud of Williamsville North has gone to states twice in the 400 hurdles.