Albany Academy junior Riker Wikoff leaped straight up into the air, his legs cutting through the sky like scissors, when he heard his qualifying time in the Division II 400 meter hurdles Thursday at the State Qualifier at Knox Field.
In one of the best hurdles duels in Section II history, Wikoff held off previous Section II leader Shane Wagner of Schuylerville to earn a spot in next weekend’s New York State Track and Field Championships in Buffalo.
Wikoff’s time was a scorching 53.07, breaking both the official Section II record held by Verrol Jackson of Schenectady (53.77 in 2003) and the all-time area mark held by Vic Peppers of CBA (53.37 in 1984). Both Wikoff and Wagner will represent Section II at the states. Wikoff’s time also moved him into No. 1 on the state leaderboard, with Wagner right behind him at 53.65, the No. 4 time in area history.
“I had no idea my time was that low. I thought it would be in the low 54s,” said an ecstatic Wikoff. “Obviously, that’s my best time ever. Coming down the backstretch, I knew Shane was right there. I could feel him. I was fighting my instinct to look over my shoulder. He was right there, pushing me all the way.
“I didn’t know exactly where he was, but I gave it an extra burst of energy at the end. When I found out what my time was, I could hardly contain myself. I just wanted to jump up in the air. This is a big surprise for me.”
The first day of the State Qualifier also had several other highlights, even though a majority of the finals will be held this afternoon.
Hannah Davidson, a senior at Saratoga Springs and the state leader in the girls’ 3,000 meters, ran stride-for-stride with Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake junior Samantha Roecker before pulling away on the last lap to win in 9:42.97, just about two seconds over her season’s-best time of 9:41.0. Roecker, the state leader in the 1,500, finished second in 9:44.56.
“Hannah had a great finish to her race, and we’re very happy with what she’s accomplished,” said Linda Kranick, who coaches the Saratoga girls with her husband, Art. “I don’t know if she will come back [today] in the steeplechase or not. That’s not my department. That’s Art’s department, but suffice it to say that we are very happy with the way things are going so far. Now, it’s on to Round 2.”
As usual, Saratoga Springs will be well represented at the states. Along with Davidson’s brilliant performance, the Blue Streaks also finished 1-2 in the Division 1 girls’ 800 meters with a pair of sophomores. Michelle Riley won the event in 2:10.67 and was virtually step-for-step with teammate Brianne Bellon (2:12.25) until the final 200 yards.
“Yes, I expected Michelle to run that well.” said Kranick. “She and Brianne have been running well all season, and they’ve been pushing each other.”
Saratoga sophomore Madalayne Smith took the Division 1 girls’ long jump with a leap of 16-111⁄2, and will come back today in her speciality, the 100-meter hurdles, where she has the fastest time in the state.
Once again running without
being pushed, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake junior Kendra Adams cruised to the Division I 400-meter hurdles crown in 64.07. Adams, head and shoulders above the field on the Section II leaderboard, led from start to finish, and triumphed by nearly three seconds to earn her trip to the states.
“I felt pretty good. My form was better than it’s been most of the season,” Adams said. “I was trying to be more aggressive, and I made it over all the hurdles. I kind of knew I wouldn’t have anyone to run with me today. At the states, I know there will be someone to push me.
“I did have some competition at the Eddy Meet. I ran my PR [63.86] there, even though I lost by half a second. I’ll need to get my time down in the states. I think I’ll need to be in the low 63s to medal at the states.”
Adams, competing in only her second season over the hurdles, said she still relies mostly on
instinct when she leaps over the hurdles.
“I still don’t have accurate steps yet. That’s something we’re working on, and I think once I get that rhythm down, my time will get down a lot further,” she said.
Shenendehowa’s Zac Suriano, the Section II leader in both the 800 and the 1,600, won the boys’ 800 in 1:55.97. It was sweet revenge for
Suriano, who just missed qualifying for the states last year.
“I made sure I got it done today,” said Suriano. “You never want to look over your shoulder. I lowered my head, saw his shadow through my legs, and kept going. Luckily, I built up enough of a cushion to win.
“I usually like to let the other runners set the pace, but next week, I’m going to have to run my own race, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to let the others do all the work. I haven’t led a race from start to finish all year, but next week, I expect no one is going to do my work for me. If somebody starts off with a 51 lap, then I’m going to have to jump right in and get to work. I’ll adjust my style if I have to.”
Teammate Patrell Brown won the Division I 400 in 49.23.
The girls’ large-school 400 produced one of the closest finishes of the day, with Guilderland’s Liz Schwennker edging Alyssa Knaak of Bethlehem, 58.87 to 58.95.
Plainsmen pole vault star
Michelle Quimby, the state indoor champion, was an easy winner at 11 feet.
Among the top highlights among the Division II schools, Broadalbin-Perth junior Lianna Ferguson won the 400 hurdles in 65.55, and Catie Coxon of Duanesburg, second on the Section II leaderboard, heaved the discus 123-9.
Mayfield sophomore Rebecca Graudons won the girls’ pole vault (10-0), and Schuylerville’s Ethan Clary took the boys’ 3,200 in 9:36.49.
Academy of the Holy Names picked up qualifying champions in the triple jump (Theresa Kennedy, 37-11⁄4) and 3,200-meter run (Claire Hardwick, 10:03.28).
Holy Names freshman Klarissa Ricks dominated the long jump with her 17-8, and is expected to win the 100-meter dash today.
Also of note were Leah Wightman’s area-best 57.54 in the 400
meters for Chatham, teammate Hayley Madsen’s 2:13.40 in the 800 and a 5-6 by Schuylerville freshman Sarah Palmer in the high jump.
The State Qualifier continues today at Knox Field with competition in all the sprints, the relays and the remaining field events in both divisions, beginning at 4 p.m.