One of the biggest local contingent will be heading to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division 2 Track and Field Championships Friday and Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High School’s Michael Bragman Stadium Complex.
The Interscholastic Athletic Conference in Section 4 has four veteran seniors heading to the two-day event with three of them coming from Dryden High School along with three first-time Purple Lions and one a Marathon Central senior.
From Section 3, Cortland High has two first-time state meet athletes heading to C-NS while Homer has a junior making her first appearance as well.
Dryden senior Abbey Yatsko is the longest tenured competitor as she heads to her sixth outdoor state meet and 10th overall counting indoor state meets. Yatsko is the top seed in the girls’ 400-meter hurdles. Her seed time is 1:03.90, making her only one of two girls under the 1:04 mark. The time trials begin Friday at 3:50 p.m.
Dryden senior Liam Joyce will compete in his third outdoor championship and fifth overall state championship in both the 100m and 200m dashes. Joyce is the fourth seed in in the 100m (10.94) which begins Friday at 1:50 p.m. He is the sixth seed in the 200m (22.29) which begins at 3:30 p.m.
Purple Lion senior Tor Wildenstein is competing in his fourth state championship (two outdoor, two indoor). He is the eighth seed in the 400m dash with a time of 49.78. He competes Friday at 2:30 p.m.
Ali Abel-Ferretti is making his first appearance at states as the senior had an outstanding season throwing the shot put. Abel-Ferretti is seeded fourth (51-feet-5 inches) when the competition begins Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Joining Joyce and Wildenstein on the 1,600m relay are first-time state championship seniors Kris Kelchner and Eric Varvayanis. They are seeded sixth with a time of 3:26.57 when competition begins Friday at 4:50 p.m.
“This senior group has been something special,” Dryden coach Lee Stuttle said. “The way they have represented Dryden, their passion to be the best and compete at every meet. All of the kids want to bring home a medal and I agree, this is doable.
“Abbey is shooting for a title in the 400 hurdles and advance to the Federation race Saturday,” he continued. “Five 1,600m relay teams are within a second of each other so anything can happen in this race. The boys are ready to PR and hopefully bring home a state title in this relay. Tor’s race in the 400m should be exciting as the top six are within under a second of each other. If Ali keeps throwing the way he has, he will medal in the shot put. Liam shows up every meet so focused and determined, a top three finish in either sprint would not surprise me.”
Marathon’s Dan Harden is making his third straight trip to the outdoor championships and his sixth trip overall between indoor and outdoor.
Harden is the third seed in the long jump (22-3) which is his last of three events Friday. He is the fifth seed (49.28) in the 400m dash (49.28) which starts Friday at 2:30 p.m. and the seventh seed (44-5.75) in the triple jump Friday at 2 p.m.
“Dan is coming off three consecutive championships meets in which he has excelled in each meet,” Marathon coach Todd James said. “He earned the IAC Field MVP, won four individual events at the Section IV Class D Championships and won the three events entered at the Section IV State Championships. In addition to his outstanding performances over the last three weeks, Dan will represent Section 4 Division 2 as the representative for the NYSPHSAA Sportsmanship Award.
“Last year at the NYS Championships, Dan’s performances in the long jump, triple jump and 400m dash did not produce any personal best performance which left us questioning the decision to compete in all three events,” he added. “This year Dan was placed with the decision to participate once again in the same three events. The decision to participate in all three this year was not an easy decision or took some sole searching to make the final decision. Dan felt that last year’s performance was hindered by a variety of elements that we had not anticipated or appropriately planned for. Now more focused, rested and more experience, Dan would like to once again try to do all three events.”
Cortland High will have two seniors making their first appearance in the state meet.
Ezra Engst-Mansilla will compete Friday at 3:30 p.m. in the 200m dash. Engst-Mansilla is the 14th seed with a time of 22.79.
“Ezra had been consistently competing in the 4x100m relay team and the 400,” Cortland coach Ron Reed said. “At the meet against Fowler he asked me if he could be entered in the open 100 and 200 just to see how he would perform at those events. The combination of the sprint work associated with the 4×100 and runway work for the long jump and the endurance required to be competitive at the 400 proved to be successful. He won both races.
“Since then,” he continued. Ezra has been focusing more attention on the two shorter sprints (100 and 200) and less on the 400 and 1,600 relay. His personal-best time of 11.79 at the sectional meet is a testimony to his training. He knows he will have to continue to work with intention and purpose in order to place at States.”
Forest Stewart will compete Saturday at 12:25 p.m. in the 1,600m run as he enters the competition as the 12th seed (4:30.67) in Division 2.
“Forest ran a terrific race at the State Qualifier,” Reed said. “Anyone watching would have seen a confident young athlete whose talent was put to the test. If my opinion matters, and I hope it does in this case, I think Forest is the ‘unsung hero’ of our distance team. His effort during training sessions and workouts would be the envy of any coach. He thinks about what he is doing and analyzes his technique in an effort to maximize gain for the energy he exerts.
“In addition, Forest studies other quality runners,” he added. “He sets high expectations for his performances. During the season he typically ran two or three events. Last week and this weekend, his sole focus is on one event. We hope that will lead to another great run for him.”
Homer Central junior Alsasce Lorraine Sanders is making her first state appearance. Sanders will compete in the 100m dash trials Friday at 1:50 p.m. where she is seeded 17th with a time of 12.82 seconds.
“One advantage Alsasce has is that she just competed at the same venue last week,” Homer coach George Schneider said. “This year’s field appears to be very strong. Alsasce is seeded 17th out of 21 entries. The top eight competitors in the trials will move onto Saturday morning when the NYSPHSAA Division II Championship race will be run. According to the seeds, the number eight runner has a season best of 12.54 seconds. Alsasce’s best time is 12.82, so it will take a great performance.”