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Orchard Park's Crean dashes to three titles

Jenna Crean was a girl in a hurry on Saturday.

The Orchard Park sophomore dominated the individual portion of the girls ECIC track championships, which were held at Hamburg High School. She won the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, and the 400-meter dash. And then she dashed away before the meet was over, leaving others to discuss her performance.

“That’s hard to do,” Quakers coach Gene Tundo said about the triple wins. “She did that last year in the ECICs and the sectionals, and finished in the top three in all three in the states. I don’t know if anybody else has done that.”

Crean started the day with her most noteworthy performance, winning the 400 meters in 56.21 seconds That broke her own meet record of 56.59 seconds, set last year. Crean won the 400 by more than two seconds.

Then it was on to the 100, captured in a time of 12.48 seconds. The Orchard Park standout finished with the win in the 200, with her time of 25.31 placing almost a second ahead of Ayanna Bursie of Cheektowaga.

“She has like perfect form,” Tundo said. “She’s like a sea of perfect movement. You don’t see that. She doesn’t waste any energy. She runs hard. She’s been doing this for three years.”

Williamsville South coach Dan Syracuse added, “She’s a freak. She can run anything, run it fast and run it well. She’s very fun to watch.”

Crean obviously played a huge role in Orchard Park’s team victory among large schools. The Quakers finished with 79 points, ahead of both Sweet Home and Lancaster (70 points).

“All of our girls got best times today,” assistant coach Debbie Brewer said. “We finally got a nice day.”

Crean and discus thrower Peyton Hillis were the only Orchard Park girls athletes to win individual championships, but the Quakers had enough depth to take home the title.

Among the small schools, two teams battled right to the end. East Aurora came away with a 113-111 victory over Holland. The Blue Devils gained some crucial points by winning the 4x800 relay near the end of the meet. Molly McLaughlin, Megan McLaughlin, Maisy Webster and Maggie McLaughlin took a seven-second win over Williamsville South, and that proved crucial.

“We had a lot of personal bests today,” coach Walt McLaughlin said about his East Aurora team. “We had two kids Friday make state times. That’s always a goal here with all of the great competition. Two relays made the states as well. This is a big stepping-stone over the next two weeks for us.”

The ECICs are something of a balancing act for a coach. It’s the last full team competition of the year, since the athletes have to reach qualifying standards to compete in regional and state competition – and some don’t quite make it. That always brings a little sadness. But it’s a goal for every one of them to be able to move up at this time of the year.

“We kind of let the team end of it take care of itself, if we do what we need to do,” McLaughlin said. “On the individual level, the points will add up and in the end it will work out. We make the kids aware that there is a team goal and we’re trying to do our best, but it’s two-sided.”

Olivia Gervan of Lancaster continued her outstanding season with a pair of wins. She took the high jump at 5 feet, 6 inches, and captured the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.65 seconds.

Other individual winners were MaKayla Kasperek of Sweet Home in the 2000-meter steeplechase (7:26.45), Tashawni Cornfield of Lake Shore in the pentathlon (2,471), Rachel Donner of Iroquois in the shot put (42-7.25), Riley Jones of Holland in the 1,500-meter run (4.49.09), Amaya Turnage of Sweet Home in the 400-meter hurdles (1:05.36), and Emily Marchitte of West Seneca West in the triple jump (38-1).

The ECICs are a good warm-up to the top competition that’s coming up in the next two weekends. The Section VI championships will be held on Friday and Saturday at Strider Field in Jamestown. That will be followed on June 9 and 10 with the state championships, which will take place at Union Endicott High School near Binghamton.

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