At this time last year, Jake Kaminski’s track and field season was veering off course.
The Cheektowaga standout had failed to build on a strong winter season that saw him qualify for states. He didn’t win high jump at ECICs. He failed to win it at sectionals and thus didn’t get to go to the state meet in the spring.
He wasn’t pleased with how things turned out, so he spent the offseason determined not to let that happen again.
It did not.
Instead, Kaminski, much like his entire Warriors team, had a glorious day during the ECIC boys track and field championships.
Kaminski delivered a record-setting performance as he broke a 33-year school record in winning the high jump with a leap of 6-foot-7 during Saturday’s meet at Hamburg’s Howe Field.
He had just enough oomph on his leap during the high jump that he cleared the record-setting height.
“My approach was a little off,” said Kaminski, who also won the triple jump and aided the winning effort of the 4x400 relay with Kendrick Hampton, Jordan Gary and Rhyan Riggs. “I was a little shocked when I jumped because I knew my approach was off. I just barely made it. The bar bounced up off the standard and landed back on.”
Which moved him into first by an inch ahead of runner-up Lancaster’s Aiden Zerkowski.
Kaminski did a summer workout load meant to increase strength and stamina. He worked out twice a day more often than not. It not only helped Kaminski get stronger but also provided a confidence boost.
His 6-7 height broke the school record of 6-5 set back in 1986.
“It feels good. I wasn’t expecting to be able to get the record,” Kaminski said. “This year it’s a little tough because I started off a little bad. Then it got nicer and everything started to click.”
“He invests a lot of time not only in practice but invests a lot of time on his own trying to get better,” Cheektowaga coach Rich Bridenbaker said. “He’s doing all the right things to put himself on the bus to go to states.”
Kaminski’s big day enabled the Warriors to cruise to the team title in small schools. Cheektowaga’s total 125.5 points was more than the winning total compiled by large schools champion Orchard Park (114).
Orchard Park won its first league meet since 1977 as it relied on depth scoring to take the crown.
“I owe it all to the kids and the hard work they put in,” first-year OP coach Nate Longbine said. “It’s amazing. I’m just ecstatic.”
Javon Thomas of Cleveland Hill had a nice day as the senior captured the 100 and 200 and also aided the defending Division II state champions’ winning run in the 4x100 relay.
“It was a great one. I had to work hard. I knew I had to go as fast as I can,” Thomas said. “Thank you to coach (Glen) Graham and the whole community for supporting us.”
Hamburg placed third albeit with heavy hearts. The Bulldogs participated in the meet without longtime coach Bill Mallican, who is in the hospital with an undisclosed ailment. He was helping with meet set up Thursday when he suddenly collapsed, according to athletic director P.J. Cauley.
Senior Nick Hafner used his coach’s absence as a rallying cry to do well as the first time pentathlete won the event with 3,016 points -- nearly 600 points ahead of the runner-up.
“This meet for all of Hamburg we did this for (coach Mallican),” Hafner said. “He’s done so much for us and sacrificed a lot of his time and effort for us. He’s a huge part of why everyone is doing so well in the meet.”