A couple of Division II state champions — one joyful as can be, the other perfectly low-key — were among Southern Tier standouts Saturday in the first one-day high school state track & field championships in modern history.
Newark Valley senior Jenna Cupp claimed the D-II girls 800-meter title and Maine-Endwell junior Cody Brizzolara the D-II boys 3,000 steeplechase one day after rain wiped away what was to be the front end of a two-day competition.
Another couple of Spartans produced in fine fashion, with Brennan Crowle and Nick Vachon placing third and fifth overall, respectively, in the pentathlon and high jump.
Elmira Notre Dame’s girls captured the D-II 400-meter relay championship and Corning’s Wynn Curtis was third-best 400 hurdler.
Impressive as any was Cupp, who ran 2 minutes, 11.29 seconds to lop nearly two seconds from her school record. She was fifth overall and D-II’s best by 1.2 seconds — especially satisfying on the heels of runner-up finishes each of the last two state meets.
As for which was most pleasing, time or title? “Honestly, both. I’m so glad I got a PR because that was my main goal. But also, I wanted to go for a state title. I’m happy, ecstatic with both.”
She added, “Newark Valley is known to train for championships, so I think my coaches really got me to my peak for this race. It was drilled into my brain that I needed to trust my training, have confidence and be patient.”
Brizzolara ran 9:29.27, a second faster than D-II’s next-best and about 14 seconds better than his previous best. As for his focus, time or title?
“Definitely my time, I don’t care where I place,” he said. “I run to PR. … It was really nice today with that kind of competition.”
And talk about exceeding expectations, Brizzolara entered the season with modest sub-10-minute ambitions. Post-race, he credited M-E coaches as well as his close pal and 3,200 runner Nick Smith — “My drive the whole time I’ve been running,” he said of the latter.
A fine Section 4 showing it was in the steeplechase, with John McCarthy of Corning No. 4 overall to Brizzolara’s No. 6.
Crowle improved by two places his pentathlon finish of last June at Cicero-North Syracuse — under physically trying circumstances. He shared Saturday that three weeks ago he’d been diagnosed with mononucleosis. Couple that with a one-day, five event challenge and third-best in New York becomes just a tad more noteworthy.
“I’m pleased with the 1,500 (4:42.8 in the final event), but everything else I know I could have done a lot better,” he said. Of the physical impediment: “It’s just being tired. It’s not an excuse at all. I can tell I have it but I can push through it. It’s fatigue and your muscles don’t recover as quickly.”
Vachon matched his M-E school high-jump record by clearing 6 feet, 6 inches, one inch back of the day’s best.
Corning’s Curtis hurdled his way to a 53.92-second clocking that was a shade off his best and No. 2 in Division I — none-too-shabby given his lane assignment.
“I was in Lane 8 and couldn’t see anybody so I was just trying my hardest,” he said. “You walk away with some hardware you’re always pleased, but at the same time I got second last year and I was really gunning for a first. Didn’t get it, maybe it wasn’t meant to be, but I’m pretty happy.”
Elmira Notre Dame’s two-sister, two-cousin quartet of Brittany Schutrum, Mara Skordynski, Victoria Schutrum and Jenny Smithers turned in a school-record 49.65 400 relay. They were unable to be saluted at the awards platform as three of them had to be on the ready for a short-order 1,600 relay, in which they ran a tidy 4:01.79.
“I don’t think it could have (gone any better),” Skordynski said of the 400. “That was our PR and we had good handoffs, everyone was in a good mood, everyone was feeling good.
“We never thought we could win it until the seeds came out and we saw we were seeded first. We still didn’t even believe it then.”
Norwich junior Matt Murray shook free from an initial traffic jam for a personal-best 1:53.59 that was sixth-best overall in the 800. “I didn’t like my start, it wasn’t where I was supposed to be at the beginning. I was way too far behind,” he said.
Vestal sophomore Kari Stromhaug came away with 11-foot, 9-inch clearance that was No. 3 among pole vaulters, juggling those duties with those in the high jump.
Julia Knapp of Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton placed fifth among D-II 100-meter hurdlers, her 15.14-second clocking making her the lone 10th-grader placing in top seven.
Section 4 boys turned in a collectively fine showing in the long jump, with four sprinkled about the overall top 11 — Austin Merritt of Thomas A. Edison (fourth), Jordan Hackworth of Ithaca (ninth), Jaryd Menta of Windsor (10th) and Mike Egotanda of Vestal (11th).
Abbie Bideaux of Binghamton clocked a 10:22.91 for 3,000 meters as fastest in the first of two timed sections, 11th-best overall in her final high school competition. Also 11th of all was Ithaca’s Emma Denman in the pentathlon.
Freshman Madeline Beaulieu likewise was 11th-best, bettering her previous standard with a 7:05.20 in the steeplechase, and Union-Endicott’s Kathy Cadet finished her distinguished U-E track tenure with a 1:03.65 that was eighth among girls 400 hurdlers.