MIDDLETOWN – This wasn’t how the dynasty was supposed to end, not with victory so close that Tapestry could taste it.
When the baton slipped through the hand of Nia Stevens just 25 meters away from victory, the collective grown of the more than 3,000 fans in attendance at the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association girls track and field championship meet said it all.
No five-peat. No chance at winning one for the little guy.
And before the day was completely over, no more spot in the Section VI record book.
The end of Tapestry’s reign as state champions in the 4x100 Division II relay and several close calls highlighted an opening day in which Section VI competed well but just lacked enough umph to capture a state crown during the first of two days of competition at Middletown High School.
Tapestry’s foursome of Nyrelle Simpson, Jada Kenner, Angel Marshall and Stevens not only came into the competition as the top seed, but with lots of momentum after breaking the Section VI record with a 48.2 clocking last weekend. It seemed as if a fifth straight state title in the event was a mere formality, especially with Marshall handing off to anchor Stevens – the one runner on the relay who has been part of each of those championships – with a decent lead. Then it happened.
“We had the baton. I got it in my hand. I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been using a rougher one and not the smooth ones but it just literally just flew out of my hand and I had to go into another lane (to retrieve it),” said Stevens, a six-time state champion who will run for Campbell University next year. “It definitely (stinks) we didn’t win another title.”
Rochester private school Aquinas won the race in 48.75, while II-Bronxville followed. Tapestry crossed third in 49.69 – a time that didn’t meet the standard to qualify for Saturday’s Federation race.
That’s because the Division I competitors in the 4x100 ran fast, faster and fastest, with Orchard Park breaking the Section VI record in finishing second in 47.81 seconds. Members of the crew were Sara Puskar, Katelynn Hennessy, Leah Pasqualetti and Jenna Crean – running anchor.
“I got to run against some of my favorite people. I’m really happy about that,” said Crean, the Duke-bound senior who also placed fifth in the 400.
“She can pull off miracles,” said Pasqualetti, who placed second in Division I pole vault. “I think we broke the record largely because we have Jenn and she’s a phenomenal sprinter.”
Also in Division I, Gwyneth Goldowski's sophomore-season to remember became slightly better as she placed third in the 400 for Frontier. Two Section VI titles and four head-to-head wins over Crean.
“This year has really been different from last season,” Goldowski said. “I’ve been really pushing it at practice and setting a lot of goals. I was pushing myself to be my best to make it to the state meet.”
Amherst's Maxana Grubb broke the Section VI record in the 800-meter dash, placing second in 2 minutes, 7.91 seconds.
"I'm very, very happy. I don't think I woud've been able to run a 2:07 without them," she said.
Starpoint’s Kiara McDowell took second in Division I discus.
Tapestry seventh-grader Kenner advanced to the finals of the 100 and 200."