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Breaking down the WNY rankings
Niagara Falls, just a second-year program, has given birth to a fast-rising star in Brian Archie. Archie is ranked No. 1 in Western New York in three events: the 55-meter dash (6.75), the triple jump (44 feet, 1 inch) and long jump (22-7). Oraine Allen and Johnny Mallard are two other sprinters with top 10 times in the 55, which will also serve the Wolverines in the 4x200.
Senior Will Cole of Hamburg will have plenty of competition at sectionals trying to win back-to-back 300-meter titles from Chris Rhinehart of Olean and Tim Prendergast of Holland. Cole has reportedly recovered from a back injury he suffered at a summer hurdle camp and then re-injured during cross country season.
Hamburg’s Joe Whelan has spent this indoor season preparing for the Junior National Cross Country Championships on Feb. 7 in Maryland. He’ll run his only indoor meet of the season on Saturday at RIT. He’s teaming with Cole, Moe Lauchert and Jamie Rindfuss to go after the 4x800 school record of 8:44. Whelan is weighing a scholarship offer from Syracuse.
Seniors Nicole Castilloux and Emily Sullivan look to lead West Seneca West to a fourth straight Section VI girls team championship. Castilloux is the defending Section VI champion in the 55 meters and long jump. She is considering Dayton. Sullivan, one of the section’s top distance runners, brings experience from multiple state championships. The West boys have two athletes who will compete for Section VI titles: Brendan Gregg in the 3,200 and Brendon Ganschow in the shot put.
Lancaster’s boys, looking to defend their Section VI title, are counting heavily on points from the sprints, relays and shot put. Most schools feel fortunate to qualify one or two athletes in the shot put. Lancaster is sending seven so far. Gino Buono, Jon Luke Krywalski and Sean Harvey have all gone over 50 feet. The Redskins own the section’s fastest times in the 4x200 (1:34.45) and the 4x400 (a school record 3:31.01). Drew DiRienzo, Chris Nelson, David Aoun, Justin Kelly, Josh Mertzlufft and Mike Palma help fill the sprints and relays.
A young, talented squad at Maryvale is led by freshman Mikayla Pearce, who went to states last year in the long jump, and this year is ranked No. 2 at 16-7.75.
Will anyone catch Iroquois’ No. 1-ranked 4x800 of Abbie Benson, Chrissy Wolniewicz, Nina Osuch and Kim Engels, who have a 10:13.73. West Seneca West and Williamsville North will give chase.
What a season Canisius has had so far. Jordan Hamm has the fastest time in Western New York in the 1,600 by a gaudy 10.36 seconds. His 4:15.70 is also the fastest time in New York State and is No. 12 nationally, according to armonytrack.com. John Urschel leads Western New York and New York State in the shot put at 57-0. The Crusaders’ 4x800 time of 8:20.83 leads the
region by a 25-second margin. Barry Fitzgerald owns a top five time in WNY in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Dunkirk’s coaches boast this is the best team in the program’s nine-year history. Sophomore Calvin Stallworth leads WNY in the high jump (6-1) and is No. 3 in the long jump (20-2.25). Zach Sliwa (1,600) and Mike Waclawski (1,000) also enjoy top 10 rankings.
Look for the Williamsville South girls to land their share of state qualifiers as well as dethrone West Seneca West for the sectional team title.
South junior Allie Van Buren is a two-time indoor Section VI champion in the 55 dash. Amanda Breymeier is a two-time state qualifier in the high jump. In the racewalk, Jenny Mooney is ranked No. 2 in WNY at 8:56.5, just a shoelace behind Lancaster’s Natalie Bauman, who’s at 8:56.3.
Ashley Ferenczy, coming off an All-WNY season in field hockey, is No. 2 in WNY in the 600 meters in 1:46.29. Kailyn Arcury, just a freshman, leads WNY in the 55 meters in 7.44. South, known for producing elite hurdlers, has three ranked among the top 10: Van Buren (No. 1), Arcury (No. 2) and Breymeier (No. 6).
Look for more great things from Williamsville East freshman Kala Allen, ranked No. 1 in WNY in the 300 (40:59) and the 600 (1:38.61). Allen was the outdoor track state champion in the 400 meters last spring. Senior Scott Ryan is ranked in the top four in the 600 (1:28.92) and the 1,600 (4:32.22).
The North Tonawanda girls take great pride in their relays. Last year they won the 4x400, breaking the Section VI record along the way, and the 4x200. This year’s 4x400 has the fastest time in the section in 4:22.84 and its 4x200 is ranked No. 4. Back from the record-setting 4x400 are sophomore Staci Czaja, junior Kayleigh Bemisderfer and Olivia DiPalma. That threesome, along with sophomore Taylor Greene, make up the 4x400 team.
Grand Island senior Adam Helman is the top pole vaulter in the state at 15-0. He won the Dartmouth relays and just missed the Section VI record of 15-2, but will go after it again on Saturday at RIT.
Evan Tsembelis is favorite for the Section VI title whether it’s cross country, indoor or outdoor track season. He’s the defending Section VI champion in the 1,600 and is currently ranked No. 2 in Section VI in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Jamie and Jenna Raepple, newcomers to indoors, are both ranked in the top 10 in the 55 dash. After winning the triple jump last spring in outdoor, Jenna has her sights set on the indoor title. She leads the section in the triple at 35-2.5. Another newcomer, Shawn Winters, checks in at No. 2 in the section in the 300.
A pair of three-sport athletes are getting it done at West Seneca East. Senior Jesse Fodero, the school valedictorian, is ranked in the long jump (19-5.75), the 55 dash (6.80) and the 300 dash (38.40). Stephanie Smigiera is ranked No. 3 in the 55 hurdles and holds school records in the indoor and outdoor hurdles.
NYS cross country champion Brenna Symoniak of Amherst is not running indoor. This will open a lane for other accomplished runners such as Erin Kling of Jamestown, Katie Niblock of Sweet Home and Sullivan of West Seneca West.
Brandon Murie of Iroquois will not defend his title in the 55 dash. The two-time All-WNY running back is not competing in indoor, opting instead to rest the knee he injured during football.
“The knee is fine. It was just a little sprain and it needed some time to heal,” he said. “I’ve been running, I just haven’t been competing. I took indoor off trying to gain some weight for football. I want to put on about 20 pounds, I’ve put on about 10.”
Junior Melissa Kurzdorfer of Lancaster already owns the state records in the shot put (47-9) and the weight throw. Not to be overshadowed is senior Erin Miller of Lockport, who feeds off Kurzdorfer and has a 41-9 to her credit.
Olean is a first-year program that brings the section’s total number of teams to 34. Olean has a gifted hurdler in Matt Johnston, but he’s got two Section VI champions in his path: Andy Wrazen of JFK( indoor) and Josh Blango of Sweet Home (outdoor 110s). Lockport’s Drew Perili will face plenty of competition as he looks to repeat in the 3,200 from Mike Thielman of Williamsville North and Tsembelis.
St. Joe’s is strong in the middle distances with Ben Kuch, Alex Haefner and Chuck Mule. Going the distance for the Marauders is Joe Schnitter and Dan Courtney.
Pioneer’s Spencer Lefort has qualified for Sectionals in six events. Great name for a track athlete: the Panthers’ Kyle Dash.
The second-best place to go for news on track is section6runs. com for results, schedules and photos.
Saturday: Varsity Select Meet III at Fredonia, 9 a. m. Saturday: Tiger Track Classic at RIT, 10 a. m. Feb. 7: WNY Relays at Fredonia, 9 a. m. Feb. 14: Sec. VI team championships/Fredonia, 9 a. m. Feb. 21: Varsity Select Meet IV at Lancaster, noon Feb. 28: Section VI/state qualifier at Fredonia, 9 a. m. March 7: New York State Championships at Cornell.