On an evening filled with youngsters turning heads and a high level of camaraderie among local kids, a pair of impressive championship streaks remained in tact.
The Hillsdale Academy girls track and field team won its fifth consecutive SCAA championship meet thanks in part to what head coach Mike Roberts calls “youthful enthusiasm” and Mike Burger’s Pittsford boy’s team won the SCAA championship meet for the sixth straight season, after finishing third in the SCAA D I in the duel meet season.
The Colts finished a stellar regular season with a 145.5-point effort, 37 points better than runner-up Battle Creek St. Phil and 46.5 points more than third-place Colon.
On the boys side, the Wildcats dominated the field events per usual and used quality depth to score 131 points. Runner-up Bellevue tallied 112 points and Hillsdale Academy came in third with 103.
For Robert’s girls, a league championship signifies their ability to overcome the loss of six key seniors form a year ago. Clara Leutheuser, Caitlyn Hubbard, Tera Woods and the Somerville sisters among others, were Colts of the past when the 2009 track season rolled around, and Roberts is pleased how well several different groups of girls gelled together.
“We had some youthful enthusiasm from the young group and just a lot of team depth and hard workers. We could spread our kids out pretty well this year,” he said. “We also had a blend of some experience that was around some of that success. There were some kids on (last year’s) team with the great senior talent that got a taste of it and they were able to carry that part over, and they were our leaders.”
For the Pittsford boys, the victory Tuesday was especially sweet because of how they faltered on several occasions during the duel meet season (3-2), only to come out on top when it mattered most.
“I don’t know if this team is as gifted on the track as some of the others I’ve had, but this team certainly sticks together well, they work hard everyday in practice and it’s been amazing,” Burger said. “We were so focused tonight because we wanted it bad; sure a division title in the regular season would’ve been the frosting on the cake, but we think this meet is a true representative of our league and it was a goal and it was the biggest one.”
Burger said it was a great feeling to be part of another championship squad, but without his predecessors such success might not even be possible.
“We have quite a tradition with Pittsford track and field. Ralph Crume started it and Bruce Caswell followed it up — a lot of good coaches have been part of the tradition and I think our community kind of expects it. And you know, the kids believe in track and field and they work really hard and I’ve been lucky enough to have a great group of kids,” he said. “We weren’t favored to win this by any means, losing in the division like we did. But that makes this that much sweeter.”
The Wildcats only took sixth place, two spots behind the Hillsdale Academy boys, at the Division 4 regional on Saturday, but with a smaller field they earned more points in the field events and hurdles, two things that put them over the top.
Burger said he doesn’t look at his team as “being full of stars”, but the truth is that both the Colt girls and Wildcat boys had several stars shine brighter than the rest.
For the Colts, the small in stature, but big in heart Elise Lisznyai won the mile run (5:44.2) and took second in the 3200 (12:36.6).
Sophomores Heather Lantis and Grace Leutheuser both had a pair of impressive finishes in field events to boot.
Lantis won the discus (105-9) and was third in the shot put (32-1), while Leutheuser was second in the long jump (16-0.75) and third in the discus (89-2).
One pleasant surprise for the Colts Tuesday was Erin Gieseke’s second-place finish in the mile, where she posted a 5:48, almost 10 seconds better than her previous personal best.
One Colts star who has been known for stepping up in the clutch, Connaught Blood, was impressive in individual events and relays, and Roberts said her leadership has been essential this year.
The past two years she wasn’t able to participate in track because of the girl’s golf season, but with the season change she returned for her senior year, a boost the Colts truly needed.
“Having Connaught Blood come back to our program…that was huge,” Roberts said. “She has been kind of that leader of the team and combining that with some kids who were around last year, and some freshmen…it just all worked.”
Blood nearly won the 300 hurdles, but settled for second (48.4) and she was the anchor on the 1600 relay team that was a runner-up.
For Pittsford, a whole assortment of names got in the mix to bring home the title.
Ben Wines won a conference discus championship (138-2) and was second in the shot put (45-10.25) as well.
Austin Billington was tops in the pole vault (12-0), with teammate Kurtis Brackman right behind him in a tie for second (11-0).
On the track it was Brent Smith and Garet Lee burning up the artificial surface.
Smith, the Male Athlete of the Meet, won the one- and two-mile runs with a 4:41.6 and 10:27.1, plus he took third in the 800 (2:09.1).
Lee finished second in the 110 hurdles (16.4), just behind Litchfield’s
Jeremy Cornish (16.3) and fourth in the 300 hurdles (44.7). He also took third in the high jump by clearing six feet.
“I’m not saying we don’t have some talent, I’m not downplaying that. Garet Lee is talented, Brent is great, Ben and some other guys do a lot,” Burger acknowledged. “But tonight I think the meet was more about our second place guys, like Kurtis Brackman in the pole vault, Jason Smith in the shot put. What I think really happened tonight is we got some momentum early, Garet and Austin PR’ed, our kids were on and we all got excited.”
There were a handful of other SCAA champions crowned from area schools as well Tuesday.
On the girls side, Pittsford finished fourth overall and had several individual titles to show for it.
Elainee Poling won the long jump (16-7.5) and also won the 800 run (2:26.6).
Teammate Jackie Page was victorious in the pole vault, clearing eight feet.
Camden-Frontier’s Jasmine Mann won the SCAA shot put crown over a talented field, with a top mark of 32-7.
In the boy’s competition a couple of Colts made some noise.
Peter Sullivan won the high jump (6-2.1) and ended up second in the long jump (19-6.5), while senior Thomas Lundberg was the 800 champ (2:00.3) and anchored a pair of winning relay teams (1600 and 3200).
“The Academy has three outstanding runners, (Thomas) Lundberg, Ethan Smith and Ethan Gehrke, plus (Peter) Sullivan is great in the high jump,” Burger said about his counterparts.
Litchfield also had several highlights, placing fifth overall.
Terry Lawler won the shot put competition (46-0.25) and took third in the discus (134-8).
Teammate Jeremy Cornish won the 110 hurdles and finished second in the 300 hurdles (43.1).
Waldron’s Fletcher Masters won the 400 (51.6) and was fourth in the 200 (23.8).
The Hillsdale Academy girls will now prepare for the MITCA team state championships this weekend, while the rest of the local athletes get ready for individual states on May 30.