Athletes reacquainted themselves with sunshine and warmth during Saturday’s Red, White, Blue & Gold Track & Field Invitational, and one versatile Vestal senior welcomed the favorable conditions with particularly exceptional results.
Mike Egotanda was responsible for a 32.5-point showing for the Golden Bears, whose 117-point total bested runner-up Ithaca by 11. Vestal’s girls made it a sweep by besting second-place Homer by 91-88.
Egotanda, easing into spring season after topping New York’s long jumpers indoors, grabbed three individual championships and kick-started Vestal’s first-place 400-meter relay quartet. Personal bests were logged in the triple jump (45 feet, 3-4 inches) and 110-meter hurdles (15.7 seconds), and he added a 22-5 long jump that was 3 feet clear of next-best
The relay quartet — including Justin Dennis, Mitch Youngs and Matt Furminger — was tops in 45.78 seconds.
“Amazing. I love it,” he said of afternoon temperatures nudging 70. “Especially for the jumps, to be able to be warm between jumps is a huge difference. You can stay consistent and your mark is always going to be on the board so, it really helps out a lot. Today is perfect, not too hot, not too cold — I love it.”
Such was not the case the weekend before at Windsor, where between shivers he fouled three times in the long jump — “My head was all over the place,” he said.
At Newark Valley, he opened with the winning long jump, and next came the hurdles title — with teammate Chris Murphy next-best at 16.02. “And our best isn’t even here,” said Bears coach Jim Cerra, saluting the depth of a cast headed by Dylan Hunt, who did not participate in the meet.
As for how frequently he’ll be assigned a four-event grind to match Saturday’s?
“I’m hoping a lot. I kind of like it because it keeps me busy,” Egotanda said. “I’ll have time to sit down but I’ll never have time to start really thinking about things. Once I get mental, that’s when it gets, ‘Alright, should I do this or should I do that?’ This way, it’s gotta go do hurdles or gotta go do long. Don’t have time to think about it, just get it done.”
A number of front-line athletes were not present for the meet co-hosted by the Newark Valley and Maine-Endwell programs. Among them was Maine-Endwell’s Cody Brizzolara, reigning Division II state steeplechase champion who is attending an elite distance running camp in Lake Placid.
Impressive distance-running doubles were turned in by a couple of sophomores — Dan Schaffer of Maine-Endwell and Emily Mackay of Union-Endicott.
Schaffer was best in a stirring finish to the 1,600, his 4:35.46 one-100th of a second ahead of Owego’s Joe McDonald, and he came back with a coast of a 10:10.27 that made for a 20-second margin in the 3,200. Schaffer’s 1,600 clocking lopped about 10 seconds, he said, from the PR he’d established inside a week before.
As for 2014 goals: “I feel as if I run the 2-mile alone, I’m hoping to break into the 9:40’s. Maybe by the end of this year I’m hoping to break 4:30 in the mile.”
Schaffer, too, was among those who welcomed the splash of warmth — “It’s beautiful out today. It makes a big difference not having to stay warm all the time.”
U-E’s Mackay turned in a 4:54.75 in the 1,500, and backed that with a 10:47.87 in the 3,000, each good for comfortable margins.
“What’s nice is she’s young and willing to listen — and she hates to lose,” said Tigers assistant coach Rick Materese,
Owego’s McDonald, Garrett Fahey, Chad Williams and James Felice established meet and track records with an 8:17.58 that was best by a bunch in the 3,200 relay.
Vestal’s Murphy won the 400 hurdles in 57.58 seconds, and anchored a first-place 3:33.40 in the 1,600 relay. Teammate Rani Marhaba adhered to coach Cerra’s instructions on the backstretch of the second lap to motor into the lead and complete a winning 2:04.85 in the 800.
M-E sophomore Mike Palmer wrapped up the long jump title by clearing 6-2, then upped the ante in quest of a school record — but fell shy in his attempts at 6-6½.
Anders Presthus of Lansing doubled with a 46-4¼ shot put and 124-0 discus, and Trumansburg sophomore Ben Pesco cleared 12 feet as top male pole vaulter.
On the girls side, late-arriving Kari Stromhaug of Vestal — indoor state pole vault champion — was unsuccessful in three attempts at 11-6 in that event after hurrying from ACT testing responsibilities, leaving Charlsie Bowen of Tioga first place on 10-6. Stromhaug followed with a winning 32-6½ triple jump, with U-E’s Briana Stockdale second. Stockdale was top long jumper at 15-2¼.
Vestal’s Megan Tinklepaugh bested 100-meter hurdlers (16.87), teammate Shade Jones ran 13.49 to head the 100, and that pair helped the Bears to a 53.09 that was best in the 400 relay.
One youngster of note was Sidney eighth-grader Mallory Stillman, fastest in the 200 at 28.05 seconds and 100-meter runner-up at 13.60.
Vestal sophomore Madeline Beaulieu clocked 7:16.65 for a 19-second winning margin in the steeplechase, and ran second behind Ithaca’s Lauren Trumble in the 800 — 2:21.12 to 2:28.33.