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Distance runners get chance to shine at Section VI Championships

Ask long-distance runners what the toughest part of the two-mile race is and their answers revolve around the same two things: persistence and mental toughness.

The 3,200-meter run for the boys and the 3,000 for girls are the ultimate tests of endurance in track and field, but Friday’s four winners at the Section VI Championships at Jamestown’s Strider Field showed that they have their routines down pat.

“Coming through after the first mile with 1,200 to go, that’s kind of the most mind-beating part of the race,” said Orchard Park junior Cal Puskar, who won the Division I 3,200 title. “I had a lot left in me, truthfully, but I wanted to win. That’s all I wanted. Coach said I got to burn the last quarter, and that’s all I did.”

According to East Aurora junior Ian Russ, the 3,200 winner in D-II, there’s a lot more pressure on you to stay mentally in tune the entire race.

“You can’t drop back, like my second lap today I got too comfortable and I was off four seconds so I was trying to make that up the whole time,” Russ said. “If you’re not focused the entire time it really can cut you out.”

Clarence senior Katrina Patterson didn’t have that problem in defending her D-I 3,000 crown. Her time of 10:28.15 was a whopping 15.8 seconds faster than her closest pursuer.

“Well going into it I mentally prepare myself,” Patterson said. “I know I have to do seven and a half laps, so it’s important to pace. One of my biggest struggles is probably going out by myself, and I feel like I did that today and I haven’t done that all season. It’s really hard mentally, but I think I did it.”

Abby and Bailey Gostomski, junior twins from Cattaraugus/Little Valley, pulled out wins in two of the closest races on Friday.

Abby in the D-II 800 race ran a personal-best 2:17.08 to edge out East Aurora junior Molly McLaughlin by .19 seconds.

Bailey also ran a personal best, a 10:31.03 in the D-II 3,000, to beat out Holland junior Riley Jones by .94 seconds.

“It was kind of nerve-wracking,” Bailey said. “I just got a lot of adrenaline and was able to really sprint it out at the end.”

Meanwhile, two seniors set new records at their respective schools in the boys 800s.

Wilson senior Trey Rees with a 1:56.39 was the only D-II runner to finish in under 2:00. Sweet Home senior Chris Nowak took down defending champ Connor Doran of Lockport in D-I by running a 1:54.46, .93 seconds faster than Doran.

“I knew it was Connor behind me because he’s really the only one I knew would be on me at that point,” said Nowak, who won the 3,200 title last year but didn’t compete in that event Friday. “A lot of times you see him coming up next to you, but luckily I never got to the point where I saw his feet coming. I heard him, I knew he was there, I sensed him and I just tried to run it through.”

West Seneca West sophomore Anna Rybczynski rounded out the track winners on Friday with a triumph in the D-I 800.

In the field events, JFK junior Shevaughn Allen topped his already Western New York-best distance of 44 feet, 5.5 inches by recording a 45-6.5 leap to win the D-II triple jump.

Lancaster continued its excellence in the D-I throwing events as senior Brianna McKenzie defended her title in the discus and sophomore Jon Surdej won the shot put.

Additional D-I field event winners include Orchard Park’s Sara Puskar in the long jump, West Seneca West’s Daniel Sudyn in the triple jump and North Tonawanda’s Anton Kunnas in the pole vault.

D-II field champions also include Albion’s Chanyce Powell in the girls long jump, Tapestry’s Maryam Akaic in the girls discus, Cheektowaga’s Art Jordan in the boys shot put and Wilson’s Mark Coder in the pole vault.

List of Friday's winners:

Division I

  • Boys 800: Chris Nowak-12 (Sweet Home) 1:54.46
  • Girls 800: Anna Rybczynski-10 (West Seneca West) 2:15.07
  • Boys 3200: Cal Puskar-11 (Orchard Park) 9:36.39
  • Girls 3000: Katrina Patterson-12 (Clarence) 12:38.15
  • Boys triple jump: Daniel Sudyn-12 (West Seneca West) 42-9.75
  • Girls long jump: Sara Puskar-9 (Orchard Park) 17-4.25
  • Boys pole vault: Anton Kunnas-12 (North Tonawanda) 15-3
  • Boys shot put: Jon Surdej-10 (Lancaster) 54-2
  • Girls discus: Brianna McKenzie-12 (Lancaster) 132-9

Division II

  • Boys 800: Trey Rees-12 (Wilson) 1:56.39
  • Girls 800: Abby Gostomski-11 (Cattaraugus/Little Valley) 2:17.08
  • Boys 3200: Ian Russ-11 (East Aurora) 9:38.36
  • Girls 3000: Bailey Gostomski-11 (Cattaraugus/Little Valley) 10:31.03
  • Boys triple jump: Shevaughn Allen-11 (JFK) 45-6.5
  • Girls long jump: Chanyce Powell-12 (Albion) 17-8.75
  • Boys pole vault: Mark Coder-11 (Wilson) 12-6
  • Boys shot put: Art Jordan-11 (Cheektowaga) 49-9.75
  • Girls discus: Maryam Akaic-10 (Tapestry) 113-0
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