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track girls tf statesLeft to right: Emmy Jackson, Teresa Garcia, Cat Zaloj, Kinsley Jacobs, Miya Kuramoto, Meghan Matheny, Hana Thibault, Catie Eisenhut, Destiny Little, Mikaela Garcia (not pictured: Leigh Miller)

Last week, 25 runners, jumpers, and throwers represented Lansing at the Section IV State Qualifier meet. It's an accomplishment to get to this meet, with athletes being admitted in one of three ways: competitors must have finished in the top three at the Section IV Class A/B/C/D meets OR earned an automatic time/mark during the season OR earned a provisional mark and been high enough in the rankings to fill in one of the remaining 18 or 24 positions after all the automatic qualifiers were admitted.

Over two days, the best track and field athletes of Section IV compete against each other for a coveted entry into the NYSPHSAA championships. The State Qualifier meet, held at Union-Endicott High School, serves not only as a true sectional championship for the individuals competing, pitting large and small school athletes against each other in events, but also as the required point of entry to the state meet. To advance to "states," athletes must be the top finisher in his/her division in the event – or be the next highest finisher who has the state standard. A maximum of two athletes/relay teams per event per division may advance. In other words: the pressure is on and the competition is fierce.

As this article is published, eleven Lansing girls will be traveling to Cicero-North Syracuse to compete at the state track and field championships, having punched their ticket to this elite meet with outstanding performances at the Section IV State Qualifier.

Sophomore Catie Eisenhut will be competing in three events at the state meet. She has been the top seed in every 1500m race in which she has toed the line this season, and it's arguable that she has improved the section times in this event considerably as her competition has chased her throughout the season. Eisenhut finished second overall in the 1500m run to Elmira Notre Dame's Alyssa Walker; since both athletes had the state standard, Section IV will be represented by both of them along with top D1 finisher Claire Mason of Corning.

Eisenhut went on to anchor Lansing's winning 4x800 and 4x400 relays. The 4x800 team of Mikaela Garcia '18, Kinsley Jacobs '23, Emmy Jackson '21 and Eisenhut (with alternates Teresa Garcia '20 and Leigh Miller '18) dropped nearly 17 seconds en route to their D2 win (3rd place overall to D1 schools Corning and Elmira). Celebration about sending this team to states was short – the girls turned quickly to whether the 4x400 team could also punch a ticket to states. Despite being the top D2 seed for much of the season in the event, Trumansburg and Elmira Notre Dame had turned up the heat in recent competitions, beating Lansing and seeming to be the two favorites vying for the state entry. With a slower seed time, the Lansing 4x400 team of Cat Zaloj '20, Destiny Little '19, T. Garcia and Eisenhut (with alternates M. Garcia and Hana Thibault '21) found themselves in the slow heat – unable to race head to head with the favorites. The girls ran a blistering race, winning their heat decisively and with a 7-second season best time – but then they had to wait for the fast heat to be completed and results to be posted. In the end, Lansing edged out END by 0.75 seconds to nab third place overall (behind D1 winner Corning and runner up Ithaca) and the D2 state entry.

Impressively, Zaloj ran the first leg of that 4x400 just moments after punching her ticket to States in the high jump in a hotly contested event. With three D2 athletes having achieved the state standard, it was likely that the athlete with the fewest misses would secure state entry over an athlete who cleared the same height but with more misses. It played out just this way, with top seed Julia Oglesby (Unadilla Valley) winning overall, clearing 5'4" to take the top D2 spot and Zaloj clearing 5'2" with fewer misses than Chenango Valley's Sara Lamoreaux. Kate Brennan of Union Endicott took 2nd overall, also clearing 5'4" and earning state entry as the D1 representative.

As they have all season, the girls pole vaulting trio of Miya Kuramoto '18, Meghan Matheny '18, and Gwen Gisler '20 dominated their competition, going 1-2-3 as they have for the entirety of the season (shifting podium spots at various meets). Per current advancement rules, only two athletes per division can advance – seniors Kuramoto (seeded at 11'6") and Matheny (seeded at 12'6") will represent Lansing at CNS this year, knowing that the school's pole vaulting legacy is left in good hands with their teammate Gisler eyeing great heights for the future. Fourth place finisher Sarah Miller of Vestal will represent D2 in the event at the state meet.

Impressive performances were posted by other Lansing athletes as well, most of whom were competing for the first time at this championship level.

Jackson had high hopes for advancing to states in the 3000m run while knowing it would be a battle; she and rival Cora Smith of Waverly had seen similar improvements over the course of the season. In the end, the blistering heat made for an even more challenging race than expected, and 8th grader Pipher Reid of Chenango Forks would come from behind to nab the top D2 position behind overall favorite and top finisher Madison Klein of Horseheads. Jackson finished on the podium – 6th overall and the third D2 finisher.

Sophomore Ethan Burt took on his first state qualifier pentathlon, earning a podium finish of 6th overall and 3rd in Division 2 (D2). Just 3 points separated top D2 finisher Matt Paske (Chenango Forks) from runner up Jon Jackson (Union Springs) while top overall finisher Luke Dehart will advance to represent D1 at the state meet. The girls D2 pentathlon was expected to be impressive and did not disappoint, with seniors Logan Bruce (Delhi) and Molly Baker (Newark Valley) topping the overall standings in the same dominant fashion as they have competed all season.

Short sprinters Dakota Edwards '19 and Sam Panzer '20 faced fast preliminary heats in the 100m, holding their own but unable to make it into finals. Panzer reset and focused on the 200, where he was able to make it into finals on day 2 and finish on the podium, 5th overall – with all of the athletes ahead of him also in Division 2. Norwich senior Zach Race won both the 100 and 200, having set the bar high for Section IV sprinting during his high school track career.

Lansing long jumpers Dakota Edwards '19 and Gisler faced impressive competition in their day one events. Edwards entered as a highly-ranked D2 jumper, but nagging injuries kept him from leaping into the finals. The top overall finisher for boys was Chenango Valley's Mike Godbay with a jump of over 21 feet. Gisler found her way into finals, finishing 8th overall. Ithaca's Ijeyikowoicho Onah topped the girls' competition, jumping 17'9.25" – still short of her 18'8" season best that she'll be seeded at for the state meet.

The Lansing hurdle crew finished their season with performances reflective of a season filled with consistent improvement and growth. Junior George Taylor competed in both the 110 hurdles and 400 hurdles, just missing finals in the 100 hurdles and running a strong 400 hurdle race. Classmate Ellie Howell made her first state qualifier appearance, racing well in her preliminary heat of the 100 hurdles with stiff competition. Freshman Thibault led her heat of the 400 hurdles for most of the race, finishing 2nd at the line and 12th overall in a new personal best.

Senior thrower Alex Powers entered the spring as a top shot putter in the section, competing at the indoor state competition. He took on a strong field in the throws, finishing 11th. Oneonta's Leroy Williams won the event with a toss of just over 54'.

Junior Phillip Linnik saw his times in the 400m dash drop in the last weeks of the season, earning him entry by provisional time to the State Qualifier meet. He not only competed in the open 400m race but also ran in the 4x400 relay along with teammates Liam Hulsebosch '18, Max Austin '21 and Panzer (with alternates Taylor and Jack Thomas '20). The team dropped their season best by over 4 seconds – all the more impressive because both Hulsebosch and Austin had just run the 4x800 along with Thomas and Torsten Gartenberg '20 (with alternate Teddy Brenner '21). That team took over 10 seconds off their season best and finished four places higher than they had been seeded.

Full results of the Section IV State Qualifier meet can be found here.

Complete information for the NYSPHSAA Track and Field Championships, including results and ticketing, can be found here.

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