By Davie Ricci firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Senior Bobby Liebel qualified for multiple events for the Section VI track and field championships that are being held today and Saturday. But in the end he whittled down the list to the three that were closest to his heart.
Liebel will be running in the 400 meter dash and will join Nate Holler, Corbin Snyder and Brandon Frye as part of the Warriors 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.
Liebel and Holler were part of the magical spring last year where the 4x4 team placed fifth in the state. When Phil Giuga and Jacob Choate graduated, the challenge was finding two athletes who could not only pull their weight on the track but also mesh with Holler and Liebel. Snyder and Frye have blended in perfectly as the current foursome now holds the school record of 44.78 in the 4x100.
“I’ve definitely become a lot closer with Corbin and Frye. They’re two of my best friends now,” said Liebel a two-time state qualifier and holder of the THS records in the 100, 200 and 400.
“Going through so much in track, it’s amazing how much it bonds you together. They’re both great guys. We have a lot of fun out here.”
Holler and Liebel are doing what they can to help Snyder and Frye prepare mentally as well as physically for sectionals.
“There’s gonna be stronger competition and they’re just gonna push you and you’re just try not to let them get in your head,” said Holler.
Liebel credited assistant coach Jackie Kiera for her work in helping mold the relay team and keeping them on top after losing Choate and Giuga.
Annie Draves and Paige Hill will compete in the pentathlon. Hill scored an 1800 at the Pembroke Invitational and a 1957 at the ECIC championships. It will be Hill’s first trip to Sectionals.
“I was really excited to (qualify). I really wanted to go to sectionals,” said Hill. “I love doing pent. It’s a lot of fun.”
Draves, who is ranked No. 2 in Section VI in the pentathlon, scored a very impressive 2330 at Pembroke. She is looking to break the 2400 plateau.
Haley Snyder, a junior, is returning to sectionals after qualifying as a freshman. Snyder is in the long jump (15-6) and 400 (16.29).
“I was really happy,” said Snyder about qualifying in the 400. “I just really wanted it. Right from the start I wanted it.”
Kyle Brady and Damien Brady will lead the NT boys. Kyle will be in the 400, while Damien competes in the pole vault. The Jacks 4x4 and 4x8 relay teams also qualified.
The Ladyjacks 4x400 relay team of Kelly Nichols, Emily Pawlik, Gabby Hansen and Liz Wildt is among the best in Section VI. The Ladyjacks team, which in ranked third, has an interesting rivalry going with the Ken East squad, finishing second to the ‘Dogs at the NFL championships. The girls 4x1 and 4x8 teams will also be there.
Individually, Wildt will be in the 400 hurdles, Gabby Hansen in the 400, Marissa Sly in the pentathlon and Gina Mallone in the pole vault.
Ben Jackson (pole vault) and Mike Debenedetti (shot put) are two of the Bulldogs best chances to place. Both were crowned champions at the NFL championship meet. Jackson, who placed seventh at sectionals last year, is the owner of a 13-6 vault-second only to Gavin DiMaria’s school record of 14-feet. Jackson enters focused and determined to make it to states.
“I’ve got to win sectionals,” said Jackson. “I’ve been working at it this entire year and I’m so close. I’m No. 2 in the section right now and I’m hoping to beat the kid in front of me.”
Aaron Cannon (100, 200, long jump), Cole Bokowski (high jump) and Jack Stellianou (mile) will be representing the Bulldogs in individual events. The 4x1 team of Cannon, Kurt McGowan, Alex Rusch and Marquee Moody and 4x4 combo of McGowan, Barton, Fennesse Henry and Steve Winters also qualified.
Erin O’Brien and Austin Nagelhout (long jump/triple jump) lead the Lady Bulldogs. O’Brien, Megan Talmon, Kiaja O’Neil and Britney Banks comprised the Bulldogs 4x4 team that took first place at NFL’s. O’Brien will also run the 400 meter hurdles. Banks will run the 100 and 400, Talmon and Shelby Goudy will compete in the 400. Goudy will also be key in the 4x1 team that includes Kiara Smith, Sarah Bandinelli and Alyssa Valle. Alex Henning (400 hurdles), Kiaja O’Neil (200) and Haley Parker (pole vault) are also aiming for states.
Coach Marty Madore’s message to his team is simple, enjoy the moment but don’t be satisfied with just making it to sectionals. Come with the intention of making some noise.
DeAngelo Walker is coming off a first place finish in the 100 at the NFL’s.
“It’s about having fun but at the end of the day you want to compete and try to advance onto states,” said Walker.
Other qualifiers for West are Terrell Ford (200/high jump), Jahlel St. John (pentathlon), Will Zanghi and Nick Wojnar in the 400, Aaron Dobozin (800) and Cody Lambert (high jump). West is sending its 4x1 (Lambert, Ford, Walker and Mark Taylor), 4x4 (Wojnar, Dobozin, Zanghi, Lambert) and its 4x8 of Rob Oberkirker, Reese Michaels, Justin Sagasta and Nate Welnoulfer.
The Lady Blue Devils will look to junior Katie Proy and senior Hayley Johnston who both won NFL championships. Proy won the pentathlon, while Johnston was first the high jump with a mark of five feet in her first season of track and field.
“My feelings are actually all over the place,” said Johnston. “Because I’m excited and then again I’m really nervous. But I’m excited because it’s my first year of track and I get to go to sectionals. So I’m looking forward to it.”
The Lady Blue Devils exceeded expectations as a group going 3-2 in league meets and finishing fourth at NFL’s. Jenna Rice (3000), Sharay Boyette (100), Kaeli Mathias (800/steeple chase), Catherine Kelichner (shot put) Emma Pfohl (400) will go for individual ribbons. Mathias, Johnston, Pfohl and seventh grader Gillian Boal will run the 4x4.