ITHACA – They didn’t qualify for States in their events but on Saturday that didn’t matter.
Section 1 won the unique intersectional girls distance medley relay at Saturday’s State Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Unique means that each member of the team – Carmel sophomore Jade Sessions (1,000 meters), Horace Greeley junior Claire Hotchkin (300), New Rochelle senior Adrian Long (600) and Lakeland/Panas senior Sunny Nagpaul (1,600) – had narrowly missed qualifying for States in their events.
But all left Cornell University’s Barton Hall Saturday with gold medals, teaming to win in 10 minutes, 22.64 seconds.
“We looked at some of our seed times,” Nagpaul said. “We knew we had a pretty good chance, so beforehand we decided to go for it.”
If those kids had a good day, then consider Iona Prep’s Andrew Cannistraci’s week.
The Iona Prep senior, who lives in New Rochelle, was this week’s Con Ed winner for athletic and academic achievement.
On Saturday he put an exclamation point on the former. He had hoped to break 60 feet in the shot and, boy, did he ever.
Cannistraci broke his personal-best record by nearly 4 feet with a 62-foot, three-quarter-inch heave to win the Federation (state public, New York City public, parochial and independent schools) title.
“I’ve been working really hard with my coach a lot on technique,” said Cannistraci, who was fifth last year. “It’s clicking in my mind right now.”
Cannistraci will throw for Northeastern next year. Figure that program will be strong.
Three weeks ago, it might have been considered somewhat of a surprise that Northeastern-bound Monae Cooper of New Rochelle High would successfully defend her New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Federation titles in the weight throw.
At the time, a slump had the New Rochelle senior “nervous for today.”
But Cooper successfully won the weight throw (55-2) and also finished second (up from fifth last year) in the shot put (44-2).
“I was questioning whether I could come back and defend the title,” she said. “But my coach and parents were telling me to keep believing – that yesterday doesn’t matter and, ‘Don’t look back, look forward,’ ” Cooper said.
Lakeland/Panas senior Cameron Thompson, who’ll throw for UConn next year, took the boys weight throw at 67-6. Briarcliff’s Jack Zimmerman was fourth at 64-2.5.
“I just wanted to come out here and have fun and win, hopefully,” said Thompson, who was fifth last year.
Suffern’s 4×400 girls relay (Kyra Greenbaum, Nicole Becker, Nallah Sutherland and Kamryn McIntosh) had doubts – at least at the season’s outset.
But it left no doubt that it was the best (public or private) girls 4×400 team in the state, winning in a personal-best 3:58.34.
The win was a repeat performance, although Sutherland is new to the squad.
Becker, who’ll run for Manhattan College next year and is the group’s lone senior, said, “I’m so excited. We worked so hard. This is so great.”
Mamaroneck’s girls 4×800 squad (Shari Rauls, Lauren Shpiz, Lauren Chapey and Katie DeVore), which earlier set the U.S. 2016 top time, ran 9:09.05 to take the state and Federation titles.
“Our main goal was to win. We didn’t want to let ourselves be intimidated (by it being States),” Chapey said.
Brewster senior Kevin Hazelwood (4:23.73) took second overall, his highest finish at States, in the boys 1,600.
“Second, I’m not complaining,” Hazelwood said.
North Rockland’s Maria Garcia got a huge bear hug from coach Brian Diglio after smashing her personal best in the 1,500-meter race walk by more than five seconds, clocking 6:49.32 for second place.
She had no chance to catch winner Lauren Harris of Sachem East (6:35.16) since she had to be careful after picking up two fouls for having two heels off the ground at the same time. Three times means disqualification.
“I’m happy. Just a change of view on the podium is the best,” said Garcia, who, in the last three years, improved from sixth to fourth to second at States.
Brewster’s Amelia Cuomo also recorded a personal-best time in the race, 6:56.40, for fourth overall.
Albany-bound North Rockland senior Nicole Dodrill, fourth last year in the 55 dash, was hoping for first.
Dodrill finished third (7.20). That was far from awful, though, considering her “horrible start.”
North Rockland, in fact, took home numerous medals.
Katelyn Tuohy smashed her personal-best time and New York state record for eighth-graders, clocking 4:32.33 in the 1,500 to finish second overall to North Shore’s Diana Vizza (4:31.67).
Instead of focusing on her performance, though, Tuohy applauded her teammates, noting the girls team qualified 10 members, without qualifying a relay.
“It’s amazing. It’s pretty much seniors and juniors. It’s great to see them succeed,” she said.
Senior Emmanuella Lauredent (8.45) was second (state) and sixth (Federation) and senior Akemi Dwyer (8.68) was fifth (state) in the girls 55 hurdles
Finishing second in both the state and Federation was Suffern’s McIntosh in the 600.
That’s the race in which she holds the national record, set last year.
But the junior has been plagued by physical problems and only recently returned to running after missing the entire fall and most of the winter season.
McIntosh, who ran a strong anchor on the winning 4×400 team, was runner-up (1:34.43) to another powerful junior, Rush Henrietta’s Sammy Watson (1:30.59), who passed McIntosh on the last lap.
North Rockland’s Sydney March was fourth (1:36.34).
McIntosh said she was “a little disappointed” but Watson reminded her she was coming back from injury and was still “doing better than 99 percent of the country.”
“We just keep pushing each other to run better times,” McIntosh said of Watson.
Watson drew praise from North Rockland coach Diglio after running 2:51.33 in the 1,000 to edge his teammate, Alex Harris (2:53.92), and Bronxville’s Kaitlyn Ryan (2:53.95) in the 1,000. (John Jay’s Gemma Nuttall was ninth in 3:08.12).
“That’s a name you’ll be hearing around the Olympic Trials,” Diglio said of Watson.
Ryan, who was fourth at States last year in the 1,500, is known for her kick but it was Harris who had the slightly better one Saturday.
The two are juniors, so no doubt that battle will continue.
Scarsdale’s Kendall Bensche set a personal record (5-4) in finishing third (state) and fifth (Federation) in the high jump.
Mamaroneck’s Sean Ideozu ran 35.63 for third among public state schools and fourth overall in the boys 300.
Pearl River’s Luqman Issah (6-02) was fourth overall in the boys high jump.
Anchor Conor Lundy of Yonkers took his Fordham Prep team (also including Conor Hughes of Bronxville, Matt Dougherty of Yorktown and Arthur Gooden of the Bronx) from fourth to third place in the boys 4×800 (8:01.10).
Anchor Wyatt Brooks also boosted North Rockland from fifth to fourth in the boys 4×400 relay (3:27.97). Chima Ezeillo and Phil Louis Juste ran the other legs in both the semis and finals and Rob Shepis ran in the semis and Alvaro Rodriguez in the finals.
Hackley’s Anthony Roderick ran a personal-best 6.49 to finish fifth in the Federation 55 meters.
New Rochelle’s Olivia Morgan was fifth (state) and sixth (Federation) in the girls long jump (17-3.25).
North Rockland’s Camille Cameron was fifth (state) and seventh (Federation) in 41.79 in the girls 300.
John Jay’s Eion Nohilly was eighth (2:33.00) and Brewster’s Mike Delfay ninth (2:34.23) in the boys 1,000.
It wasn’t all about winning, of course.
Section 1’s boys intersectional team (Pearl River’s Matt Politis, Pelham’s Justin Johnson, Arlington’s Devere Knight and North Rockland’s Dylan Serino) finished fifth (9:01.80). But Serino, who ran the 1,600 leg, pointed to the importance of having the experience.
“Next time I’ll be good to go and have a good place,” he said.
Ramapo’s Melissa Moise, Djazmina Jean-Pierre and Keverene Mason never expected to make the state championships with sophomore Steffany Batista and surely wouldn’t have had Section 1’s top 4×200 teams, North Rockland and New Rochelle, not fallen in the state qualifier.
So they were running for the experience, rather than a medal. When all was said and done, Ramapo was 11th ((1:52.46) but not really disappointed.
“Just being here is such a great opportunity,” the Dominican College-bound Jean-Pierre said.
“it’s a good way to display what we have,” said Mason, who plans to run for either Albany or UConn next year.
Moise, who’ll run for Iona next year, said it was a good taste of what to expect running at college.
Asked about the best part of the experience, the youngster in the group, Batista, said, “This is the happiest moment.”