Athletes of the Year
Rush-Henrietta’s Watson and Thomas extend their talent to national level
Rush-Henrietta’s nationally ranked speed specialists – sophomore Lanae-Tava Thomas and junior Sammy Watson – rewrote the record books again this spring, dominating the outdoor track and field season just as they had through the winter.
They now hold every Section V outdoor and indoor record, from the 100 meters to the metric mile, and Watson’s time to win the high school 400 race at the prestigious Prefontaine Classic in Oregon, 53.21 seconds, came within one second of the qualifying standard for the Olympic Trials.
“Two outstanding underclassmen, at the same school. Unheard of,” said Bob Bradley, a retired English teacher who coached cross country and track and field at McQuaid for 44 years. “I’ve been following the two with admiration from afar. I wouldn’t be surprised that by 2020 (the next Summer Olympics, in Tokyo) you’ll see them there.”
Indoor track’s All-Greater Rochester co-athletes of the year share the honor once again in outdoor. They lead a group of 20 on the 10th annual team and are joined by R-H’s Mike DeMay, who’s coach of the year for a record 11th time in cross country, indoor and outdoor track.
“Mike is doing great things with that program,” Bradley said. “I think back to Zilla Higgs and Kim Batten (East High) in the ’80s and ’90s. They were doing things then that were outstanding, but they weren’t on their team at the same time. So many things can happen, but if these R-H girls stay focused and healthy, you could see both of them in the big picture for a long time.”
Many say they make it look easy, but take it from Thomas, “the track life is hard.”
Her four gold medals, a silver and a bronze at states came with a price.
Like her good friend, Kelly Brown of Wilson Magnet, Thomas attempted four events on the Saturday of states.
“It was very difficult,” she said. “First the 100 (public schools), then a 45-minute break. Then the 200 (publics), then a 10-minute break. Then the long jump, then no break, straight to the 100 (Federation final), then no break to the long jump, then no break to the 200 (Federations), then a 20-minute break to the 400 relay.
“It was the worst kind of tired I’ve ever experienced. I would actually lie down whenever I could to conserve energy.”
She also downed a jar of pickle juice Kelly Brown’s sister had brought back from an emergency errand to give them energy and prevent cramping.
“It’s gross. Salty,” Thomas said, “but it helped.”
The sprints weren’t so bad, she said, but it’s long-jumping that give her the most jitters. Even breaking her own Section V record the day before wasn’t without tension.
Her six attempts in the Division 1 public schools competition included two fouls and an 18-foot, 5½-inch effort on her second try. Her third leap was the record-breaker, 20-8, No. 2 in the country and just a quarter-inch behind No. 1. In the Federation competition the next day, she “managed” to win with a 20-4, fouling on two of her four tries.
“I always try to do my best,” she said, “but jumping is so unpredictable. You can be perfect one minute and completely off the mark the next.”
Watson, like her older sister, Ceara “CC” before her, said she’s energized by all who follow her career. With four golds of her own at states, including a breathtaking, come-from-behind victory in the Federation 1,500, Watson had the crowd buzzing.
“People come up to me and say I’m their idol or something, or they say they’re watching me and looking for me,” she said.
“All the positive energy really helps … I find it in me to keep going, keep doing what I’m doing.”
Makayla Binter, Greece Arcadia
Two-time AGR pick was third in D-1 and third in Federations pentathlon (3,269 points), including winning pentathlon’s long jump (18-1¾) at states. The Davidson-bound Binter, who also is an all-county soccer defender, holds school records in six events
Jenna Berry, Pittsford Mendon
Her D-1 winning high jump at state qualifiers (5-6) was tops on the sectional leaderboard. She also won the high jump in Class A sectional and was third in states. The three-time AGR pick enjoys studio art, biology and French, and competes as varsity cheerleader.
Earnie Burapan, Hilton
Placed fifth in D-1 (11-3) at states, second (11-6) at state qualifiers and third (10-0) at Class A sectionals. A two-time AGR selection, she is a state-qualifier in gymnastics, secretary of her class in student council and participates in Masterminds.
Elsa Cole, Fillmore
A four-time AGR selection, she became the first Class D athlete to win the D-2 state 2000 steeplechase (6:58.12) title. A quadruple-winner in sectionals (800, 1500, 2000 steeplechase and 3200 relay. Also MVP of soccer team, she plays trombone in band.
Mady Dibble, Waterloo
Assumption College-bound thrower won D-2 state discus (122-8). Double-winner in state qualifiers in shot put (36-¾) and discus (personal-best 128-0) and Class B sectionals. Third-ranked academically in her graduating class. Enjoys blacksmithing.
Chima Dimgba, Greece Athena
A leaderboard-best and winning 100 hurdles time of 14.81 at state qualifiers, she also placed second (15.20) at Class AA sectionals. Volunteers at Strong Memorial Hospital, plays clarinet in symphonic band and is president of National Honor Society.
Adama Donzo, Rush-Henrietta
Ran third leg of state winning D-1 400 relay in Section V-record 47.40 and was sixth in 100 (12.82), sixth in long jump (15-8¼) at Class AA sectionals. Two-time AGR selection will attend University of Akron as a pre-med biology major.
Erica Ellis, Gates Chili
She won D-1 pole vault (11-9) at state qualifiers as freshman and Class AA sectionals. Her 12-8 effort at Hilton’s Cadet Showdown ranked third nationally for freshman on May 7. She also is setter on varsity volleyball and Peer Ambassador at school.
Kiaya Franklin, Batavia
Sophomore was fifth in D-2 400 (58.71) at states after winning the 400 (58.55) at state qualifiers. She won 100 (12.51), 200 (25.97) and 400 (57.69) at Class B sectionals. Plays striker in varsity soccer, volunteers for a Cub Scout pack and enjoys drawing
Annie Hanna, Pittsford Sutherland
A three-time AGR selection, she was second in D-1 400 (57.05) at state qualifiers and her 56.79 quarter broke 18-year-old school record. Part of six relay teams that broke school records. Also led league in scoring with 10 goals and 7 assists in soccer.
Leah Hulbert, Rush-Henrietta
Won D-1 shot put (37-5¾) and discus (132-4, personal best, broke 27-year-old school record) at state qualifiers. Also won Class AA sectionals in shot put in personal-best 39-11¼ and discus. Attending St. John Fisher College to study nursing and compete in track.
Aubrianna Lantrip, Midlakes
Iowa-bound, four-time AGR pick was second in D-2 100 hurdles (15.25) and third in D-2 triple jump (38-½,) at states. Won D-2 high jump (5-5) and triple jump (38-1¼) at state qualifiers. Also swims 50 and 100 freestyle on varsity. President of student council.
Natalie Neamtu, Webster Thomas
The two-time AGR selection made states with second-place finishes in D-1 800 (2:19.33) and 1,500 (4:46.11) in state qualifiers. Set personal-best in 800 (2:14.46) at Class AA sectionals. Loves Star Wars movies, plays flute and piccolo and is MVP of Math League.
Stephanie Nwachi, Rush-Henrietta
Ran leg of winning D-1 400 relay (47.40) to break their Section V record at states. Helped team win 400 relay (47.95) at state qualifier and AA sectionals. Also individual 400 (58.87) sectional champ. Participates in African-American Leadership League.
Hayleigh Palotti, Livonia
Three-time AGR pick was third in D-2 800 (2:12.79) and sixth in 1,500 (4:44.65) at states. Won both events at qualifiers and Class B sectionals, Season-best 800 was 2:11.43. Plays varsity soccer. Takes French and Spanish and is student council secretary
CO-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Lanae-Tava Thomas, Rush-Henrietta
Won a Section V-record four golds, a silver and bronze medal at states, lowering her own 100 record to 11.83, 200 to 23.68 (No. 1 in state) and the long jump mark to 20-8 (No. 2 nationally). Co-athlete of the year in indoor. Also plays volleyball.
Tori Thompson, Rush-Henrietta
Ran leg of Section V-record breaking D-1 400 relay (47.40) at states. Helped team win 400 relay (47.95) at state qualifier and sectionals. Was second in 200 (25.28) at sectionals. Four-time AGR. Participates in African-American Leadership League.
Erika Tillotson, Victor
Second in 400 Federation hurdles (1:01.97), fourth in D-1 400 hurdles (1:02.47) at states. Won 400 hurdles and triple jump (35-4) at Class AA sectionals. Two-time AGR selection (golf and track) participated in two state meets in spring. Enjoys painting and artwork.
Amanda Vestri, Webster
Ran personal-best 9:48.84 in D-1 3000 at states to post top spot on Section V leaderboard. She also won 3000 at state qualifiers, as well as 1500 (4:44.01) in sectionals. Five-time AGR selection, she loves animals and caring for them.
CO-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Sammy Watson, Rush-Henrietta
Won 400 (53.21) at the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon. Won high school mile in state-best time of 4:49.56 at Penn Relays. Won four golds at states, including 1,500 in 4:22.09 to break her own record. Co-athlete of the year in indoor. Plays viola in school orchestra.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Mike DeMay, Rush-Henrietta
In 16 years of coaching, his teams have won 25 Section V titles. Has coached five national champions, 11 All-Americans, 12 state Federation champions, 18 state champions and 91 AGR selections. Enjoys historic buildings and photography.
Dyonte Allen (Gates Chili), Taylor Alloco (Hilton), Jamie Amoroso (Pittsford Mendon), Jessica Anderson (Canandaigua), Haley Arguien (Churchville-Chili), Claire Ashton (Webster Thomas), Abby Baerwaldt (Rush-Henrietta), Dasia Barclay (Greece Olympia), Elyse Barkstrom (Pittsford Mendon), Boushra Belkhir (Victor), Morgan Brady (Fairport), Katie Broikos (Pittsford Mendon), Brealle Brown (Rush-Henrietta), T’Andrah Brundidge (Brockport), Alex Carpenter (Webster Thomas), Cyan Carter (Spencerport), Maddy Childs (Honeoye Falls-Lima), Katie Cobos (Canandaigua), Alexis Crane (Rush-Henrietta), Rachel Denise (Batavia), Sophia Dinehart (Batavia), Grace Dunnigan (Pittsford Sutherland), Colleen Eckl (Pittsford Mendon), Allison Feder (Fairport), Morgan Femiano (Greece Arcadia), Destiny Fernandez (Greece Athena/Odyssey), Tiara Filbert (Batavia), Emily Fish (Fairport), Julia Flocco (Fairport), Celia Flynn (Batavia), Abby Frank (Penfield), Christina Gates (Rush-Henrietta), Emma Gilbert (Honeoye Falls-Lima), Monica Gregg (Rush-Henrietta), Emily Herrmann (Victor), Taylor Himes (Honeoye Falls-Lima), Maddie Hobika (Pittsford Sutherland), Lily Hoyser (Pittsford Mendon), Stephanie Hyde (Rush-Henrietta), Miranda Hughes (Rush-Henrietta), SherDavesia Jacque (Gates Chili), Joanna Jin (Penfield), Rachael Jones (Fairport), Alyssa Kalen (Hilton), Josie Keenan (Fairport), Sarah Killip (Webster Schroeder), Anna Kostarellis (Churchville-Chili), Gillian Kurtic (Honeoye Falls-Lima), Renee LaSalle (Rush-Henrietta), Olivia Lewis (Churchville-Chili), Cameron Mackenzie (Penfield), Regan Maguire (Penfield), Aleah Martone (Spencerport), Maddy Mason (Hilton), Sydney McDaniel (Honeoye Falls-Lima), Asia McInnis (Greece Arcadia), Grace Messina (Pittsford Sutherland), Claire Miller (Penfield), Molly O’Neill (Canandaigua), Bailey Pierce (Rush-Henrietta), Anna Quan (Gates Chili), Brianna Randolph (Gates Chili), Maeve Reed (Fairport), Indya Richards (Gates Chili), Rachel Richenberg (Canandaigua), Katey Ringo (Rush-Henrietta), Samantha Ritter (Fairport), Hannah Roof (Honeoye Falls-Lima), Rebecca Roth (Victor), Sinead Sargeant (Fairport), Madeline Shellard (Irondequoit), Ellie Songer (Webster Thomas), Amanda Vogt (Webster Schroeder), Vanessa Watson (Spencerport), Amanda Woodard (Pittsford Mendon).
Dajah Barnett-Latta (World of Inquiry), Nazjahe Boswell (World of Inquiry), Ny’Shaya Henderson (Franklin), Satin Holmes (Wilson Magnet), Chanel Odum (School of the Arts), Eyland Marxey (World of Inquiry), Destiny Smith (World of Inquiry), Shania Spinks (School of the Arts), Sami Whitaker (Robert Brown).
Hayley Bronk (Mercy), Ashley Burch (C.G. Finney), Adrian Mazur (Northstar Christian), Megan McMullen (Aquinas), Shelby Monroe (Northstar Christian), Alana Morrow (Mercy), Ella Myrthll (C.G. Finney), Madeline Pizzo (Mercy), Bebe Porpilla (C.G. Finney), Travasia Singletary (Aquinas), Destiny Smith (World of Inquiry), Jasmine Smith (Northstar Christian), Brianna Torrell (C.G. Finney), Karla VanArdt (C.G. Finney), Emily Wade (Mercy), Nia Williams-Matthews (Aquinas).
Siomara Caballero (Byron-Bergen/Elba), Lindsey Clar (Wheatland-Chili), Taylor Clar (Wheatland-Chili), Reanne Dressler (Byron-Bergen/Elba), Hannah Duttweiler (Pembroke), Emily Dyson (Pembroke), Morgan Fuller (Byron-Bergen/Elba), Olivia George (Alexander), Emily Gonyea (Byron-Bergen/Elba), Lauren Hume (Alexander), Grace Kibler (Attica), Olivia Kohorst (Pembroke), Rebecca Krenzer (Notre Dame Batavia), Grace Krizen (Pembroke), Lindsey Luce (Attica), Anna Molnar (Pembroke), Kenydie Mott (Oakfield-Alabama), Johnae Naylor (Byron-Bergen/Elba), Madi Neurohr (Pembroke), Emma Patterson (Pembroke), Alexis Payton (Kendall), TT Requa (Kendall), Maya Rutland (Kendall), Taylor Rutland (Kendall), Margaret Sutherland (Notre Dame Batavia), Emily Tait (Attica), Lyndsay Wright (Kendall), Bethany Zwolinski (Pembroke), Sophia Zwolinski (Pembroke).
Jadyn Abrams (Bath), Morgan Adams (Pavilion), Allison Albers (Bath), Colette Anikue (Letchworth), Kendall Armstrong (Bath), Jenna Belden (Warsaw), Jackie Britton (Geneseo), Mackenzie Brooks (Hornell), Olivia Brumfield (Caledonia-Mumford), Kiara Buxton (Hornell), Molly Carrick (Avon), Kayleigh Carroll (York), McKenna Cone (Le Roy), Meghan Curtin (Wayland-Cohocton), Rose D’Angelo (Mount Morris), Liz Daugherty (Livonia), Kim Davis (Pavilion), Jenna DeFisher (Pavilion), Rachael Dollard (Caledonia-Mumford), Kameryn Duell (Warsaw), Madison Ewing (Keshequa), Amy Faville (Avon), Mackenzie Ferlicca (Livonia), Anna Flaitz (Hornell), Jackie Frost (Geneseo), Jessica Harris (Geneseo), Kelsy Hastings (Letchworth), Taylor Heineman (Pavilion), Clarissa Hensler (Livonia), Brooke Hessel (Letchworth), Lacey Hillier (Keshequa), Chloe Kernan (Geneseo), Jessie King (Le Roy), Joye Levendusky (Avon), Madison Lewis (Wayland-Cohocton), Sarah Linsner (Livonia), Ryan Luplow (Warsaw), Maggie McAllister (Wayland-Cohocton), Jasmine Mercado (Keshequa), Rachel Meyer (Letchworth), Samantha Miller (Dansville), Carleigh Minor (Letchworth), Vanessa Motzer (Wayland-Cohocton), Madison Offhaus (Warsaw), Abby Parker (Perry), Alyssa Pascoe (Perry), Chelsea Pascoe (Perry), Caitlyn Pawlaczyk (Mount Morris), Lily Phelps (Caledonia-Mumford), Libby Powers (Avon), Taylor Quackenbush (Wayland-Cohocton), Olivia Quartz (Letchworth), Brianna Reed (York), Abby Salvaggio (Geneseo), Stephany Samis (Le Roy), Cori Shearing (Letchworth), Andrea Smith (Livonia), Mackenzie Smith (Bath), Rebecca Snyder (Keshequa), Mackenna Taggart (Bath), Izzy Thelen (Livonia), Sylvia Thompson (Keshequa), Elyse VanAuken (Caledonia-Mumford), Savanah Vasile (Keshequa), Meryl Wakefield (Warsaw), Katie Warner (Dansville), Leah Whiteman (Dansville), Lauren Wiard (Avon), Kristie Willey (Keshequa), DaeJoy Wright (Hornell), Jenny Yuhnke (Pavilion).
Alivia Arliss (Clyde-Savannah), Emily Bargy (Wayne), Kaitlyn Bonczyk (Wayne), Alexis Carson (N. Rose-Wolcott), Jessica Charlette (Midlakes), Abigail DeFisher (Marion), Camille Dixon (Harley-Allendale Columbia), Addi Geitner (Bloomfield), Katie Hamel (Wayne), Jordan Hurlbut (Palmyra-Macedon), Lindsey Hurlbut (Palmyra-Macedon), Julie Kommer (Williamson), Jessica Lamar (Sodus), Emily Lavarnway (S. Seneca), Emma May (Palmyra-Macedon), Tylea McCarthy-Walker (Williamson), Emma Means (Marion), Hannah Miller (Mynderse), Hallie Minges (S. Seneca), Jaelyn Morgan (Marion), Maci Nicholson (Penn Yan), Courtney Page (Waterloo), Hannah Pendleton (N. Rose-Wolcott), Eileen Reinhardt (Harley-Allendale Columbia), Hailey Rossi (Marcus Whitman), Sydney Sheehe (Newark), Lilli Smith (Palmyra-Macedon), Olivia Spencer (Red Jacket), Amy Tichacek (Gananda), Jade Tusch (Marion), Camryn Vogt (Gananda), Chloe Weaver (Red Creek), Justine Willard (Gananda), Demetria Woodard (Gananda), Rosie Yellow (Harley-Allendale Columbia).
Hannah Burch (Cuba-Rushford), Haylee Burdick (Bolivar-Richburg), Amanda Burrichter (Fillmore), Brittany Button (Bolivar-Richburg), Tiffany Chadduck (Bolivar-Richburg), Lexus Cornelius (Bolivar-Richburg), Kiyonna Goodrich (Genesee Valley), Kendall Grover (Bolivar-Richburg), Meghan Hatch (Fillmore), Julia Hotchkiss (Fillmore), Madison Jones (Genesee Valley), Chloe Kottwitz (Bolivar-Richburg), Josie Litchner (Cuba-Rushford), Carmen Mancuso (Fillmore), Maddie McDonald (Bolivar-Richburg), Brooke Nichols (Genesee Valley), Kennedy Scott (Bolivar-Richburg), Victoria Thompson (Scio).
Zoe Balinsky (Alfred-Almond), Caitlin Cook (Alfred-Almond), Corrine Crooker (Addison), Veronica Dailey (Addison), Danielle Dennis (Canisteo-Greenwood), Darien Hooker (Canisteo-Greenwood), Regan Hooker (Canisteo-Greenwood), Megan Long (Addison), Maeve Looney (Alfred-Almond), Nora Looney (Alfred-Almond), Ellen McGinnis (Alfred-Almond), Karina Morling (Canisteo-Greenwood), Roni Morseman (Alfred-Almond), Sophie Napolitano (Alfred-Almond), Janu Patel (Alfred-Almond), Marielle Perolina (Campbell-Savona), Allie Smith (Canisteo-Greenwood), Abbey Swackhammer (Alfred-Almond), Laura Sweezy (Alfred-Almond), Jaiden Weitzel (Canisteo-Greenwood), Jordan Woodhouse (Addison).
Chanyce Powell (Albion), Mahogany Taylor (Albion), Emma Gardner (Medina/Lyndonville), Martha Gardner (Medina/Lyndonville).