Locals Shine At Niagara Falls HS, Many Advance To State Meet
NIAGARA FALLS — Area schools came away with another excellent showing from the second day of the Section VI Track and Field championships at Niagara Falls High School on Saturday, with plenty of runners and jumpers punching their tickets to next weekend’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships in Cicero.
Many expected the girls Division II 1,500 meter race to be one of the most intriguing of the day, and it certainly did not disappoint. Trailing Riley Jones of Holland entering the final lap, Bailey Gostomski of Cattaraugus-Little Valley was able to dig deep and make a late move to finish in 4:46.15.
That effort edged out second-place Kylee Odell of Clymer/Sherman/Panama (4:46.75), third-place Christina Peppy of Maple Grove (4:49.23) and fourth-place Ava Crist of Maple Grove (4:49.60).
Odell was able to hit the state standard earlier this year, and will also make the trip to Cicero next weekend.
“I was ecstatic,” Timberwolves coach Katherine Scott said of the finish. “What I do with them is I make them do long distance and sprinting so I know that if it’s tight she can still run a 400 faster than most of them out there.”
Bailey will return to the state meet for the second year in a row, while sister Abby Gostomski will head to Cicero to compete in the 2,000-meter steeplechase after claiming a victory in that event with a time of 7:07.72.
In what was another truly wild finish, Abby was able to catch Fredonia’s Emily Brown in the desperate final strides of that race, as Brown finished in 7:07.75.
“She ended up running like 12 seconds faster than she has so far and she’d already had a state standard, way under, so it gives you high hopes that hopefully she can get in the fast heat next week and have a chance to be a state champion,” said Scott.
Bailey Gostomski also took home third place in the 3,000 meters on Friday with a time of 10:21.79.
One day removed from taking second place and qualifying for the state meet in the 3,200 meters, Maple Grove senior Michael Peppy took to the track looking to punch his ticket to the championships in a second event–the 1,600 meters. Suffering from an unfortunate start that could have undermined a less-experienced runner, Peppy was able to work his way out of an early box on the way to a winning time of 4:27.85.
“I got absolutely cut off and boxed-out, I was in like dead last at the start of the race, but I made sure by the first 100 meters that I took the lead again,” said Peppy. “Last year at the state meet a similar situation happened. I got boxed-in until the third lap, but now I’m going in in my senior year, I think I know how to deal with those situations a little better, and I’m glad I had the speed and endurance to get to the front of the pack again.”
Peppy will enter the championships in Cicero with the hopes of earning podium finishes in both of his distance races to cap what has been a momentous career with the Red Dragons.
“I really want to podium on those two races. Last year I just missed it, finishing seventh in the state. I’m just super fortunate to go for two events,” he said.
Thanks in large part to a scorching time in the final event of the weekend, a 4:21.39 in the 1,500 meters, Clymer/Sherman/Panama’s John Swabik was able to take home a sectional crown in the boys pentathlon with 3,111 points. Maple Grove’s Carson Crist will join Swabik in Cicero, after the junior took second with 3,047 points, besting the state standard of 3,008.
Swabik’s 1,500 time was 30 seconds ahead of the next-best finisher, earning him 802 points after securing 559 in the long jump earlier in the day.
“I jumped mid 19s. It was a pretty good jump,” said Swabik. “That (1,500) is my best event in the pent and I knew I had to go under 4:35 and ended up doing it. I wanted to get the state standard.”
While the majority of athletes become properly acclimatized to their specific events throughout the course of a season, pentathletes often only get a chance to actually run through all five of their events during a few meets leading up to the end of year.
“It’s pretty difficult. I mean I’m a distance runner so I don’t do all this sprinting stuff and jumping stuff, but I just had to practice that every day,” said Swabik.
Also returning to the state meet will be Cameron Barmore of Clymer/Sherman/Panama, after taking home the high jump with a final leap of 6 feet, 5 inches.
“That is my personal best. It was awesome, I felt great,” Barmore said of his high mark. “I’ve never done it before and to do it here on the biggest stage, I’m happy to go to states again. I can’t wait.”
Heading into Cicero, Barmore is aiming for a top-10 finish or a new personal best of 6-6 to cap off his year.
Another Barmore, Collin, had a hand in writing a new page in the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association history books, along with 3,200-meter relay teammates Bryce Baglia, Andrew Young and Rayven Sample.
The foursome from Falconer/Cassadaga Valley finished just ahead of Lewiston-Porter with a time of 8:03.55, breaking the old mark of 8:04.24 set by Fredonia High School in 1984.
Meanwhile, the Section VI girls high jump crown belongs to Emilee Hanlon of Dunkirk, who was able to hit 5-4 to beat out Kaitlyn Bulega of Holland.
“This year I played softball and track so I’ve been doing double practices, so I haven’t been able to practice as much at the high jump,” said Hanlon. “My personal best for the season is like 5-5, 5-4 I think. It’s not where it should be, but hopefully with this win I will have an opportunity this week and the following week when I go to nationals.”
Hanlon was not finished after taking home the high jump, as the senior headed directly across the pitch to the long jump, ultimately claiming that title as well with a jump of 16-7.75 inches.
“I’ve only long jumped like twice this season and my first time that I jumped I jumped 17-5, so it was kind of high for someone who has never done it,” said Hanlon. “So they kept putting me in it to see if I could do better and last weekend it wasn’t that great of a jump, but a lot of people didn’t have great jumps, so I’m hoping it was just the pitch.”
Fredonia’s Lydia Lanski will be heading to the state meet after her first-place time of 15.27 in the 100-meter hurdles. Also heading to the state meet will be Grant Fox of Olean, after his winning pole vault mark of 13-9 was able to beat out Mark Coder of Wilson.
Sam Gilbert of Falconer/Cassadaga Valley finished up three of her four total events on Saturday, taking home fourth in the 100 meters (12.38), fourth in the 200 meters (25.98) and second in the long jump behind Hanlon with a distance of 16-7.25 inches.
Hanlon took third in the 200 meters with a time of 25.89.
Dunkirk’s Jericha Petrella grabbed third place in the 400 meters with a time of 59.71, while Southwestern’s Lauren Swan took third in the 400-meter hurdles with a clocking of 1:06.07.
Clymer/Sherman/Panama’s 3,200-meter relay team of Anneke White, Natalie Carris, Mackenzie Gratto and Odell finished in second behind East Aurora with a time of 9:59.49.
Southwestern’s Gianna Hoose grabbed fifth place in the discus with a throw of 99-4 inches, while Clymer/Sherman/Panama’s Kylie Schnars finished in third place in the pentathlon with 2,654 points.
Dunkirk’s Issiah Velez finished third in the finals of the 100 meters, clocking a 11.13, while Randolph’s Matt Evans grabbed third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:03.43.
In Division 1 action, Grant Moore of Jamestown took home third in the high jump with a mark of 5-10, while Thomas Rivera of Sweet Home was the champion with a jump of 6-3-.