Small and diverse might be the best way to describe the group of area athletes that will compete in the state track meet today and Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse.
A mere eight local athletes qualified last week. That’s down significantly from the previous four state meets, when an average of 17.5 area athletes made it to the premier event for high school track and field performers in New York.
But those eight who made it represent two sections and seven schools. There are two throwers, two jumpers, a sprinter, a hurdler, a middle-distance runner and a pentathlete among the five girls and three boys who’ll compete.
Some have experience, such as Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton junior Julia Knapp, who’s participating in her fourth state meet, and seniors Lucy Ford of Cooperstown and Brittney Herrick of Oneonta High, who are headed to states for the third time.
Others are newcomers, including senior Mattie Seamans, the first Windham athlete to qualify for the state meet.
No matter the background, OHS boys track coach Brady Cotter probably summed things up best by saying, “There are always nerves when you get to the state meet.”
That’s true even for a defending state champion such as Ford, who cleared 5 feet, 5 inches in the high jump last June to become the first girl in Cooperstown history to win a state track title.
“She’s looking strong, but it’s awfully tough to be the defending champ,” Cooperstown coach Connie Herzig said of Ford, who placed first among Division II athletes (school enrollments of 600 or fewer) in winning her state title last season. “She’s always jumped well at the state meet.”
Downsville senior Antonio Gomes, OHS senior Mat Robinson, Sidney junior Austin Dean and Gilbertsville-Mount Upton/Morris junior Christina Hawkins also will compete this weekend.