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Saturday, June 8, 2019: Recapping opening day of the state track and field meet

   Leading off today: Kaeli Thompson had already been able to call herself the best in the country by virtue of winning the girls pole vault at the high school indoor nationals, but the Warwick senior didn't have a state title under belt until Friday.

   The Duke recruit cleared 13 feet at Middleton High School to capture the Division I crown on the first day of th NYSPHSAA championships.

   "I've wanted a state title for so long and it's been the one thing I haven't been able to grab," she said.

   And it turned out that she wasn't even the only champion in the family. Warwick's girls 1,600-meter relay clocked a 3:52.73, aided by Kaeli's sophomore sister Kristin, to also take home a championship.

   Kaeli Thompson's victory was one of the highlights of the day's field events. On the track, Corning's Lindsey Butler garnered plenty attention for taking down a 35-year-old Section 4 girls record. The senior, a state champ in March in the indoor 600, won the Division I 800 meters in 2:06.88 to erase the mark of 2:08.83 by Ithaca's Dana Kelly in 1984.

   She had placed second at the 2018 state meet by 3/10ths of a second to Rush-Henrietta's Haley Riorden, who placed sixth Friday.

   "It was just a really exciting moment," said Butler, who's headed to Virginia Tech in the fall. "When I was in the 600 in indoor, I wasn't sure if I won and I knew I won this time -- and it was such a good feeling."

   Said coach Joe Melanson: "She got after it out of the gate this race and she knows what it's like to close. After last year, I couldn't be happier for her. I took her loss hard last year."

   Also on the track, North Rockland junior Katelyn Tuohy continued her domination of the distances with a victory in the 3,000 meters in 9:21.9, the second-fastest time in the nation this spring. The repeat victory came by a comfortable 15 seconds over Saratoga's Kelsey Chmiel.

   Tuohy's outdoor season has been low-key in part due to a combination of weather, allergies and a heavy academic load. She told The Journal News she doesn't feel like she's peaking for next weekend's outdoor nationals, but that doesn't pose a concern in the bigger picture.

   "I kind of need a down year if I want to accomplish what I want next year," she said, pointing to making the Olympic Trials.

   Tennessee-bound Vanessa Watson of Spencerport repeated i the Division I intermediate hurdles in :59.12.

   Oh so close: Ramapo senior Anthony Harrison throw probably wasn't quite long enough to break the state record for the discus established in 1991, but a late foul flag made it a moot point.


   Harrison, who's been flirting with the record of 202-9 all season, had already wrapped up the Division I championship with a 197-7 effort before he uncorked what appeared to be an even better throw.

   But after he threw the discus and legally stayed in the circle, an official spotted Harrison's toe over the line as he looked to see how far the disc had flown.

   While no measurement was taken, an official told coach Jason Zweig the throw as in the 199-foot range.

   Harrison, who placed second in the shop put, gets one more crack at the discus Saturday in the Federation division.

   "I'm coming back with a vengeance, Harrison vowed. "That state record is mine. ... I can't go out like this. I'll be ready and more prepared.


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  •    The day's best work on the track belonged to Matthew Payamps of St. Anthony's, who outlasted future Georgetown teammate Shea Weilbaker of Saratoga on the final lap, passing him with 200 meters left for a win in 9:01.57 in the 3,200 meters.

       "Each lap just got harder and harder. But it got me excited that he was pushing the pace so hard and we're going to be working together the next couple years," Payamps said. "It just got me more confident and I was happy that I was able to finish strong and come home with the title."

       Payamps said he didn't want to wait until the 200-meter mark to pass, but had no choice because of Weilbaker's savvy.

       "That just shows how strong he is as a runner to not let me get it right away," Payamps said.

       Another Long Island standout had a huge day as Mount Sinai's Kenneth Wei won the Division II triple jump and long jump in 48-0.75 and 24-3, respectively.

       It's one of the last times I'll ever get to triple jump and the atmosphere and adrenaline was just rushing," he said.

       Wei is a candidate for a weekend triple. He'll compete for the Division II title in the 100 hurdles after qualifying in :14.21.

       The race of the day was in the Division II 800 meters, where Bronxville's Matt Rizzo looked to have the race in hand until Hans Matzal of Faith Heritage in Section 3 won the lean at the tape.

       Matzal ran 1:52.01 and Rizzo 1:52.07.

       In other boys action, Dustin Meyer of Gates Chili added to his 2018 indoor championship by clearing 15 feet to win the Division I pole vault. Ravena junior Shane Racey got over the bat at 16 feet to win Division II.

       Relay mishap: Buffalo Tapestry Charter was on its way to its fifth straight girls Division II championship in the 400 relay when anchor Nia Stevens lost control of the baton on the homestretch.

       Tapestry's foursome of Nyrelle Simpson, Jada Kenner, Angel Marshall and Stevens came into the meet with momentum after breaking the Section 6 record a week ago, and Marshall handed off to anchor Stevens with a clear lead.

       That's when disaster struck for Stevens, who had been a part of the championship quartets the previous four years.

       "We had the baton. I got it in my hand. I don't know if it's because we've been using a rougher one and not the smooth ones but it just literally just flew out of my hand and I had to go into another lane (to retrieve it)," Stevens said.

       The mishap opened the door for the Aquinas foursome of A'Zhyia Clemons, Oomarie Diggs, Jenai Youmans and Nia Williams-Matthews, who won in :48.75. The Little Irish's Williams-Matthews also scored silver in the Division II triple jump.

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