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High School Track and Field: Lake Shore program growing, St. Francis second in Dunkirk

Lake Shore\'s TJ Hornberger leads a pack of distance runners in last year\'s Section VI Championships. He will lead a large group of newcomers on this year\'s team. (Photo courtesy of Ron Olson)
Lake Shore may be going through a building season, but the Eagles have plenty of athletes to help in the process. The program seen significant growth, with about 115 athletes on this year’s team, 75 of whom are new.

“We are very excited by our large numbers, new talent and overall interest in track and field,” said Jeff Connors, who coaches the team along with Chuck Kowalski, Trisha Ippolito and Sean Kunkel.

Leading those familiar with the team is junior state qualifier T.J. Hornberger, who ran a mile this week in 4:26, and fellow distance runners Calvin Butlak, Ian Yargeau and John Wasaluski. On the girls’ team, distance runners Mary Beth Benzing, Alyssa Kij, Rachel Youngers, Maddy Kromer and Emily George are back and leading the pack. Among the newcomers, eighth grader Natalie Cummings is already running the 1500 in 5:40. She’s joined by newcomers Allie Papas, Kaylie Majuk, Emily Becker and Sarah Mitchell.

Returning among the vaulters are Madison Bates, Mikayla Arcara, Kaylie Barnes, Bonnie O’Neill, Shaun Duffey, Tyler Leavitt and Tyler Becker. They’ve been joined by freshmen Chris Beckley, Connor Quinn, Shelby Weaver and Nate Pericak. Nick Winters, Chad Wilkie, Kaylie Barnes, Mikayla Arcara and seventh grader Jessica Dunlap are earning quality points in the long and triple jumps. Seven jumpers have already qualified for ECICs. High jumpers Nick Winters, Tyler Becker, Kelsey Eggleston, Katelyn Kennedy and Maddy Vail are constantly pushing their own personal records.

In the sprints, newcomers Alyssa Gardner, Deanna Burton, Madison Mascio and Caterine Wolf join returning veteran and captain Katie Martinowicz. On the boys’ end, Mitchel Bruckman, Connor Quinn and Weslee Thomas join returners Danny Kowal, Nick Winters and Jason Dunlap. Jewels Corea, Bonnie O’Neill, Danny Kowal and Kade McGarrity lead the hurdlers. Among throwers, for the girls are newcomers Caitlin Metty, Cheyenne White, Alexis Fhurman, Melissa Toy and Felicia Jimeson, while the boys return Cody Green and Justin Crosta, who are joined by freshmen Darin John, Noah Micalec, Tristan Whitney and Aaron Lin.

Elsewhere, St. Francis finished second of 15 boys teams on Friday (April 26) at the Dunkirk Invitational. Down 15.5 points and in fifth overall with three events left, St. Francis came back and finished only 2.5 points behind the first-place Frontier.

Among the highlights, Derrick Weyrough was the lone event winner from St. Francis, taking the 400 meters with a personal best time of 50.96, Brennan Macey jumped 19-feet, 11-inches in the long jump to take second before being injured. Sophomore Matt Kowalski threw 120-2 to finish second in the discus. The 4x400 relay of Kawalerski, Weyrough, Mike Maroney and Chris Walter ran a season best time of 3:35.39 to take second, just behind Frontier.

The 4x800 relay of Adam Gargano, Tim Bartnik, Noah Zydel and Woyshner took third with a season best time of 8:32.19. Taking fourth were Chris Walter in the long jump (19-0.75), sophomore Noah Zydel running his best in the 3200 (10:26) and Dalton Reynolds in the triple jump (38-9).

Also at the Dunkirk Invitational, the Hamburg girls concluded a highly successful week with a third-place finish in the 16-team competition. The meet produced 17 individual bests, 16 individual awards and three relay awards with sectional-qualifying times.

The highlight of the meet was Amy Villarini being named Most Outstanding Performer for her first-place finishes in the 100 and 200, second place in the long jump and as leadoff runner on the Bulldogs’ third-place 400-meter relay. Teammate Brooke Dehlinger was fifth in the 100, sixth in the 200, fourth in the long jump and also ran the relay. Samantha Ruszczyk won the 400 hurdles and was second in the 400 meters. She was also in the 400-relay along with anchor Lexi Kinsman.

Leah Covelli took fourth in the steeplechase. Taylor Thurnherr was sixth in pole vault and Meghan Hagerty, seventh. Gabby LaRosa was seventh in the 800. Eighth places were scored by Molly Kabsa in the 800, Renee Meinhold in the triple jump, and Ashley Kabsa and Anna Chiachia in the high jump with personal bests.

Erin Kane completed a difficult double with personal bests in the steeplechase and 1500. Personal bests were also turned in by Rosemary Herbst in the 3000, Cookie Meissner in the 800, Alicia Giles and Emilee Puccio in the shot put and Lauren Cox in the 400 hurdles. The Bulldogs 3200-meter relay of Molly Kabsa, LaRosa, Herbst, and Meisner was seventh and the 1600-meter relay of LaRosa, Ashley Kabsa, Chiacia and Grace Maecker took fifth.

Earlier in the week, the Bulldogs beat West Seneca East, 111-30. Additional Bulldogs achieving personal bests were Erin Wicher, Bethany Wojcik, Meghan Gorman, Libby Bassini, Emilee Neijadlik, Isabell Wollenhaupt, Amanda Becker, Nathalie Collins, Emily Hawes, Morgan Lanham, Nicole Dubill, Katie Monin, Julie Mule and Lauren Moelbert.

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