Girls Indoor track team wins section III title by ½ point

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The Cazenovia Girls Indoor Track team poses with the Section 3, Class B championship banner following their dramatic come-from-behind win to capture their sixth straight Section III title.

The Cazenovia girls indoor track team never imagined they could fashion a more dramatic title win than their two point edge over Westhill in 2015. Little did they know that history would repeat itself as they fought to a 96.5 to 96 win over CBA to claim the 2016 Section 3, Class B championship. Like the previous year, their success in the triple jump would play a vital role, but the final margin would come down to a head-to-head battle in the closing 4×200 meter relay. The Lakers entered the 2016 contest ranked in the middle of five extremely competitive teams with a shot at the title in the 13 school Class B field. With high-quality programs from CBA, Skaneateles, Westhill-Ludden and Clinton also vying for the championship, it would prove to be one of the most dynamic contests in memory. During the course of the meet, the Cazenovia athletes would exceed their pre-meet seedings in 11 of the 15 events to doggedly work their way to the top. Meggie Hart started Cazenovia’s title charge at the opening gun, winning the 3000 meter in 10:40.05, less than one second off her school record.  The 4×400 meter relay ran its fastest time of the year by over eight seconds as every runner hit a personal best to claim second in 4:21.53. Olivia McEntee (1:03.8), Maddie Langey (1:07.0), Zoe Shephard (1:07.5) and Maria Stalder (1:03.0) each gave 100% to hold off Clinton, just one second back. Clara Rowles (fourth, 3:11.79) and Megan Henderson (sixth, 3:13.16) both ran career bests in the 1000 meter to put five more points on the board. Kirsten Underwood (7.69) fought to third place in the 55 dash, beating out the fourth place finisher by 3/1000 of a second. Delaney Yates picked up fifth in the 55 hurdles in 9.84 seconds while Olivia McEntee earned a critical point in the 300 in 45.32 seconds. Hart (5:00.31) and Rowles (5:00.55) returned to capture second and third in the 1500 for 14 points, nearly double the expected total. Cazenovia field event athletes also gave their all, delivering consistent performances to rack up points. Tori Fischer delivered a near-perfect set of high jumps through 4-10 to claim third while Jess Macheda was flawless through 4-8 to pick up sixth. Katie Robbins cleared her season best of 8-6 in the pole vault to capture third while Maddy Gavitt equaled her best to tie for sixth at 7-6. Ryleigh Tilison (fourth, 28-3) and Fischer (sixth, 26-6.5) both delivered season bests in the shot put to earn five more points for the Lakers. Gavitt was less than four inches off her personal record as she earned second in the long jump at 15-3.75. Despite their incredible efforts, the Lakers found themselves trailing CBA by 11.5 points (72.5 to 84) going into the final three events, with CBA ranked close to or ahead of them in all three events. After five straight Section 3, Class B titles, the odds looked bleak for Cazenovia. The comeback began with Cazenovia’s 4×800 meter, seeded fourth going into the event. Maria Stalder, Megan Henderson, Meggie Hart and Clara Rowles improved on their season best performance by 14 seconds to win the event in 10:11.14 and gain 4 points on CBA, who finished third. The Lakers closed the gap to 7.5 points, 82.5 to 90. Maddy Gavitt, incredibly consistent and poised for a Freshman, jumped 32-6.5 on her final triple jump, just 2.5 inches from her best ever, to claim third place. CBA was unable to score in the event, giving the Lakers a six point advantage. Suddenly, going into the final race, the 4×200 meter relay, Cazenovia trailed by just 1.5 points (88.5 to 90) but the Brothers were seeded second and the Lakers third. They would have to exceed expectations one final time for the victory. The team of Olivia McEntee, Brenna Hughes, Delaney Yates and Kirsten Underwood ran their fastest time of the year, 1:53.88, to claim second place, two seconds ahead of CBA to gain a two point advantage. They had done it. Final score: Cazenovia 96.5, CBA 96 atop the 13 team field as the Lakers defied the odds to bring home their sixth consecutive sectional title. Coaches often say that every athlete, every detail, every second and every inch can be the difference between victory and defeat. It’s true. Just ask the 2016 Cazenovia indoor track girls.
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Photo courtesy of Beth Kempf. The team reacts to seeing its name 1st ahead of CBA by .5 pts.

Editor’s note: Thank you to Coach Wheeler for writing such a great article!

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