The 4 x mile relay was always thought of as the signature event for the Saratoga Springs’ girls’ track team, but in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, the steeplechase is where the Blue Streaks have had the most success.
Junior Keelin Hollowood captured the 2,000-meter steeplechase Saturday morning by surging past Leila Mantilla of Penfield in the final 400 meters at North Carolina A & T University. She became the fifth Saratoga national champion in the outdoor steeplechase, and they collectively own six titles now.
Hollowood led the way for Section II athletes, who also had speedy Kyle Plante of Colonie lower her own Section II record with a runner-up finish in the 400, Shenendehowa take third in the distance medley relay and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake sprinter Joe Carr narrowly miss making the 200-meter dash finals.
Hollowood, who finished 10th in the steeplechase a year ago, ran a personal-best 6:50.46, the third-fastest time in Section II history. Mantilla was second in 6:54.08. Juniors Felicia Sciortino of Niskayuna (7:19.50) and Courtney Tedeschi of Berne-Knox-Westerlo (7:22.27) were 12th and 13th overall, respectively.
“She had a Regents [exam] yesterday,” said coach Linda Kranick of Hollowood. “She managed to take care of her academic objectives first, then flew down. She’s tired, but happy.”
Hollowood led the first 400 meters with a 1:18.11, then stalked Mantilla through 400 splits of 1:24.87, 1:25.10 and 1:24.76 before kicking home in 1:17.63.
“On the last lap, she looked fantastic,” Kranick said. “She really wanted it and went after it. We were really impressed with her.”
Over the last decade, Lindsey Ferguson won the national steeplechase twice, while other Blue Streaks to capture the top prize were Jaime Sweeney, Hannah Davidson and Greg Kelsey.
Earlier, Hollowood was part of the Blue Streaks’ team that finished second to powerful Adrenaline Track Club of Delaware in the 4 x mile relay. Junior Taylor Driscoll, senior Margaret MacDonald and senior Maggi Szpak completed the foursome.
Saratoga, the two-time defending champion in the race competing as Kinetic Running Club, finished in 20:22.12, more than five seconds faster than last year’s performance. Adrenaline, representing the Tatnall School, posted a 20:02.90 and missed in its bid to eclipse meet (19:58.07) and national (19:56.80) records.
The fastest split of the day was posted by Driscoll, who ran a 4:52.95 anchor and rallied the team into second following the efforts of MacDonald (5:10.05), Szpak (5:15.13) and Hollowood (5:04.02).
“She got the baton way back in fourth place,” said Kranick of Driscoll, who had an outstanding school year, from cross country to outdoor track. “She’s one tough kid.”
Niskayuna, running under the Red Gremlin TC banner, was 15th in the race in 22:00.93 with runners Emily DeWald, Maggie Hensel, Kaleigh Higgins and Sciortino. Shenendehowa took 17th in 22:20.53, but did not use ace Lizzie Predmore. Running the legs for the Plainsmen were Gina Stalica, Caroline Hampton, Carley Whitford and Erin Hulbert.
In the evening session, Plante, the New York state champion, finally got to hook-up with Kadecia Baird of Medger Evers, but couldn’t catch the Brooklyn ace, who clocked a national-best 52.14. Plante’s time of 53.32 bettered the all-time Section II record of 53.38 she set in the Eddy Meet.
Shenendehowa capped the program with a bronze medal in the distance medley, clocking a Section II season’s best of 11:58.59 with Bailey Kowalczyk (3:43.43), Julianna Klein (59.02), Kristen Jordan (2:18.67) and Predmore (4:57.48).
Carr, another state champion, had high hopes in the 200, and even though he finished second in his semifinal with a time of 21.62, he missed making the finals by five one-hundredths of a second.
Junior Ross Wightman of Chat-ham finished third in the boys’ 2,000-meter steeplechase, recording a 6:04.06. Fayetteville-Manlius’ Brendan Smith won in 5:55.79.
In the “emerging elite” girls’ 800, Higgins was 12th in 2:15.57, and Kayleigh Lavender of Shaker placed 29th in 2:18.55.
On Friday, Keilan McMillan-Moss of Schenectady took fifth in the emerging elite high jump, clearing 6-4 3⁄4.
WINKLER WINS HAMMER
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Averill Park junior Rudy Winkler is on his way to Barcelona.
Bloomer, who skipped his outdoor track season to focus on the hammer, won the event at the USATF Junior Nationals Friday, coming up with his second-best mark of the season, a 232-1.
Because he won and met a world standard, Winkler will compete in the World Junior Championships July 10-15 in Barcelona. His best throw of the season is 237 feet.