CICERO – Olmsted's Miquela Hunter is similar to Orchard Park's Jenna Crean in this unique way.
Both have participated in so many New York State Public High School Athletic Association girls track and field championship meets that it's easy to forget that neither is a senior.
So it's kind of fitting that on the same Friday afternoon, in span of perhaps 10 minutes, that young veterans Hunter and Crean captured the first outdoor state championships of their respective careers.
Hunter, a freshman, captured the Division II 400-meter dash. Crean followed that by claiming the Division I 400 before a crowd of more than 4,000 at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
They were joined at the awards podium by familiar faces in the form of Tapestry's 4x100 relay, which won its fourth straight Division II championship at the annual meet featuring the best-of-the best from the Empire State.
Discus thrower Rachel Donner of Iroquois also won a state title to highlight the first day of action at the two-day meet, which resumes Saturday morning.
But the top NYSPHSAA runners in the 400 both reside in the 7-1-6. Crean, a junior, is in her fourth state meet, Hunter her third.
"She's incredible," said Crean of Hunter. "I love running with her when we get to run together before sectionals. ... She's very good."
Crean, who has an indoor state title in the 300 on her resume, secured the crown by crossing the finish line in 56.4 seconds. She finished second overall but the runner who finished ahead of her was from a non-NYSPHSAA school attempting to (and successfully) qualify for the Federation race Saturday.
The triumph came with a strategic move as the triple-winner at last week's Section VI championship bowed out of the 100 for the state meet as a way of conserving energy.
"I already got my PR in the 100 so I decided to narrow it down to the 200 and 400 so that I could do my best in all of them instead of trying to juggle them," said Crean, who also posted the top qualifying time in the 200. "I'm definitely proud of myself."
Hunter is thrilled she now has a state champion's medal to go with her Sectional crowns.
"This is kind of crazy," Hunter said. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all. Just a lot of training and a lot of running to get to this point. It's just a great experience."
Hunter also won her respective heats in the 100 and 200 and will be the No. 2 seed in both those races.
Another Hunter who has been around for a while is Taylor of Tapestry. She is participating in her last state meet. She and her 4x100 teammates Nia Stevens, Mirielle Ngoopos and eighth-grader Nevaeh Parker posted a winning time of 48.83. They just missed the cut line to race the Federation.
But they still got to stand on the top step of the awards podium.
"It feels amazing being able to run with my girls," said Taylor Hunter, who with Stephens has been a part of each of Tapestry's state championship relay teams -- including the first one. "We just work hard. Coaches pushed us."
Hunter will be attending SUNY Cortland.
Donner rebounded from a fourth-place finish in the shot put by capturing her first outdoor state title – the discus with a distance of 138-04. She fouled on all of her throws except the winning one.
"It was really surreal that I won it because I never thought I'd be on top of discus," said Donner, a senior heading to Dartmouth who qualified for the Federation meet in shot put and discus.
West Seneca West's Anna Rybczynski placed second in the 400 hurdles in Division I.
Also in Division I, Orchard Park pole vaulter Leah Pasqualetti, a sophomore, placed third, Christina Wende of Ken West took fourth in the triple jump, Lockport freshman Sydney Nowicki finished sixth in the 3,000 and Maxana Grubb also placed sixth in the 800.
In Division II, Springville's Payton Rowe took fourth in the 400 hurdles. Iroquois and East Aurora finished second and third, respectively, in the 4x400 with the Chiefs' crew of Kathryn Blair, Laina Caparaso, Logan Streety and Leah Streety just finishing ahead of EA by at least a thousandth of a second. Those who ran for EA included Molly, Maddie and Megan McLaughlin and Celia Cocca. Molly McLaughlin finished fourth in the 800, while Blair came in sixth. Megan McLaughlin was third in the 3,000 and Holland's Riley Jones placed fourth. Mushirah Sheppard of Salamanca came in third in pole vault, followed by fifth-place finisher Rachael Ward (Falconer). Lew-Port's Lauren McGrath stands third in the pentathlon.
Story topics: NYSPHSAA track and field