MIDDLETOWN – Lancaster senior Jon Surdej had plenty of motivation for succeeding at his craft during the first day of the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association track and field championships.
-- There’s, of course, personal glory.
-- Program glory.
-- Honoring family.
No wonder, the future University at Buffalo student-athlete had a wide smile on a hot, muggy day at Middletown High School.
Surdej won another state shot put championship, flirting with his own Section VI record by heaving a winning throw of 64 feet, 4 inches on his final throw of the competition. He had already had the title wrapped up before that throw as no one among the public schools came close to the 62-10.25 he tossed earlier, but increased his final margin of victory to 6.5 feet over Anthony Harrison of Ramapo.
Surdej becomes the first Lancaster male to close his career by winning back-to-back state titles in the shot during indoor and outdoors.
“It means a lot,” said Surdej of winning four straight state titles it the shotput. “The amount of great throwers that were before me and couldn’t do this, it’s really satisfying to know that I did this and that I’m going out No. 1.”
That includes friend and ex-teammate Colin Blair, a mentor to Surdej while growing up in the Legends’ program. Blair provided plenty of motivation to Surdej during their time as teammates, lessons he still remembers.
“It was a big motivating factor, having him there saying you won’t beat me, you won’t beat me,” Surdej said. “Knowing now that I have done stuff he hasn’t done it’s good. I love Colin he’s a great guy but, you know, I win.”
Surdej was especially thrilled to capture the win for retiring Lancaster coach Kevin Carriero. Carriero is stepping down after roughly 49 years as the program’s skipper.
“This being his last year and how much he’s done for me this is the least that I can do for him,” said Surdej, who also took third in the discus. “It’s what he does for everyone. ... He’s been almost that father figure for five years. It’s sad to see him leave but I want to make sure he goes out on top.”
Surdej will try to add the Federation title as overall state champion Saturday. He’ll get a big push from St. Joe’s senior Tyler Doty, who is the only other shot putter in the state who has broken 62 feet.
Surdej wasn’t the only Section VI competitor to come home with a state title. Falconer/Cassadaga Valley’s 4x400 relay of Rayven Sample, Austin Johns, Collin Barmore and Bryce Baglia broke the PR it set last week at sectionals. The crew triumphed in the Division II race in 3:21.11.
“I heard footsteps and I started to go harder and harder,” Baglia said. “I kept telling the guys we wanted that state banner. .... All the hard work paid off.”
Several Section VI athletes came within a whisker of winning a state title in Division II. That includes Allegany Limestone’s Liam Coulter in the 400 hurdles as he finished in 54.1 seconds, .31 behind the winner. Newfane’s Reese Casinelli finished second in the 400 as he got out-leaned at the finish line. Cheektowaga’s Jayden DuBard took second in the shot.
Cleveland Hill’s 4x100 relay of Chris Diem, Aaron Wahler, D’Mario Grant and Javon Thomas placed second a year after winning. U-Prep of Rochester won with 42.00 seconds, while Cleve Hill came in at 42.31.
In Division I, Lockport's Malik Brooks placed second in the 400, posting time of 48.06.
The meet resumes Saturday with finals in the sprints. Then the Federation meet commences as it brings in the private schools and New York City PSAL competitors who hit qualifying times for various events.