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Thill clears new heights at Sectional track finals

YORKSHIRE — With a new pole in front of her and a bout with mono behind her, the only place for Jenn Thill to go was up.

And that’s exactly where she went, clearing 12 feet, 3 inches to win the Division I pole vault at Saturday’s Section VI Track and Field Championships at Pioneer.

The effort added two inches to her Western New York lead and highlighted a huge day for Lancaster’s girls. The two-day event was also a qualifier for next weekend’s New York State Championships in Middletown.

After easily clearing 12-3, Thill moved up to 13 feet, where she bowed out after three attempts.

“There was a nice tail wind so I had to move my marks back a little bit on the runway,” said Thill, who has signed with UB. “I felt really good during the whole meet, I really didn’t lose any energy.”

The Redskins also added a Section VI record to the day’s tally as four underclassmen – freshman Molly Scarpello, freshman Ashley Grazen, sophomore Tiffany Cycon and sophomore Allie Mazur – ran a 48.13. The previous record of 48.67 had been held by Amherst since 2009.

Grazen and Mazur added individual sectional titles as Grazen won the 200 meters in 25.83 and Mazur took the 100 meters in 12.78.

For the second day in a row a pair of juniors squared off in the throws. Lancaster’s McKenzie Kuehlewind won the shot put in 41-6 followed by Jesse Dhaliwall of Grand Island. On Friday it was Dhaliwall who beat Kuehlewind in the discus.

After three trips to the states in the relays, senior Kathleen Zimmer of West Seneca West is going this year in an individual event. She held off Iroquois’ Lauren Jenney to win the Division I 400.

“The wind, that’s the toughest challenge,” said Zimmer. “At practice the coaches do a really good job of preparing us for that. There’s always a headwind, always, so it’s just about powering through and staying strong.”

The Indians’ success didn’t stop with Zimmer. Senior Brianna Colello won the 100 and 400 hurdles. Colello and Zimmer joined Abby Jankowski and Isabella Mancino in winning the 4x400 relay.

East Aurora always has its eye on those relay titles. This year was no different as it won the Division II 4x400 and the 4x800. Hannah Hitchcock, Marta McLaughlin, Hannah Rice and Beckah Zee ran a 4:06.30 in the 4x400 while the same foursome put together a 9:37.79 in the 4x800.

East Aurora also finished 1-2 in the steeplechase thanks to Mackenzie Donahue and Megan Baritot.

Eighth-grader and No. 6 seed Mckenzie Swartsman of Frewsburg won the Division II 1,500 in a season-best 4:52.79.

“I made sure I tried to tire the people out who were in front of me before I made my move in the last 100,” she said.

Freshman Sophia Tasselmyer of Starpoint added the 1,500 title to the 3,000 she won Friday night.

“I actually wasn’t as sore as I thought I would be,” she said.

Since last year Tasselmyer has dropped 15 seconds from her 1,500 time and over 1 minute from her best in the 3,000. She wants to PR in both events at states and break 10 minutes in the 3,000.

“I’ll have the competition to help push me. I’ll be able to face the girls that I compare myself to,” she said.

Like Tasselmyer, sophomore McKyla Brooks of Frontier won a second title in as many days. She took the long jump on Friday and the triple on Saturday in 38-10.25.

Senior Emily Irish-Ryan of Amherst is making her fourth trip to states after winning both the 100 and 400 hurdles.

“When I’m out on the track there is just something that pushes me forward. … When there are people around me it’s kind of like instinct,” she said.

Junior Christina Walter of Maple Grove will get the chance to defend her Division II state title in the 100 as she took the sectional crown in 12.93.

• The last “race” of the day was the fourth annual Final Senior Lap, organized by Bill Wende of The ceremonial lap was a celebration of the competition, accomplishments and friendships the seniors had experienced in their careers. Joining them was longtime Lancaster coach Chuck Friedmann, who has announced his retirement.