When it comes to the question where do I stand, Webster Schroeder distance runner Valerie Palermo has an answer.
There were times during recent cross country and indoor track seasons, when Palermo was far from certain. This spring, the Duquesne University-recruit can say that she has come a long way.
“I’ve kind of forgot about all of the bad things,” Palermo said.
There were late-race fades by Palermo at back-to-back Section V Cross Country Championships, including a fall about 200 meters from the finish as a sophomore, because of a possible panic attack, she said. Palermo advanced to the 2012 indoor state meet, but at times that season, carried around a feeling that she was not progressing.
Palermo began to compete in the 2,000-meter steeplechase last spring, and the stopwatches in her life showed good news again, in the form of faster times. A run of the steeplechase in 6 minutes, 55.84 seconds Saturday afternoon during the Monroe County Championships in Hilton, could jump Palermo to No. 2 on the state leaderboard.
“I’m in a much better spot this year,” Palermo said. “I’m very happy with my season so far.”
Palermo has produced personal-best times this season in the open 400, 3,000, 1,500 and 400 hurdles, an event she finished in third-place on Saturday.
It is the steeplechase that seemed to rejuvenate Palermo during her junior year.
Palermo set the meet record at the 2012 Royal Comet Invitational at Rush-Henrietta. She met the standard to qualify for the state meet during that season’s Section V Championships. Although nervous again, Palermo won the steeplechase event at Section V’s state meet qualifier and placed fourth at states.
“Usually, it’s just get to states,” Palermo said. “Then it was, ‘Wow, I can make it on to the podium.’ “
There are some serious calculations going on among the area’s elite these days. Greece Athena senior Brian Smith moved closer to the Section V 200-meter dash record of (20.7), when he ran a personal-best 21.16 Saturday. That is No. 1 in the state, according to ny.milesplit.com.
Senior teammate Keith Pease dropped his season-best 1,600 time more than five seconds, down to 4:14.37.
“I just felt it was time,” Pease said. “It all has to come together at some point.”
The Penfield girls, who edged Hilton by a half-point, and the Greece Olympia boys repeated as team champions.