A senior on the Shenendehowa boys’ indoor track and field team, Tyler Schmidt has won multiple state championships during his time with the Plainsmen.
What he — and everyone else on his team — had never accomplished was winning a Section II team title in either the winter or spring season of the sport.
That changed Friday at SEFCU Arena, as the Shenendehowa boys’ squad won its first team title in several years with a dominant display, its 134 points easily outpacing archrival Saratoga Springs’ 89.
“And, I mean, they’ve been winning sectional titles like crazy,” said Schmidt, whose track and field program last won a team title during the 2010 outdoor season. “We wanted to finally beat them.”
The Shenendehowa boys’ victory was joined with a win for the school’s girls’ team, too, as the Shenendehowa girls’ squad topped Saratoga Springs 159-130 for its third championship in four years.
Each team at the event dealt with a tough schedule. The section’s state qualifier meet was Monday, leaving little time for recovery before Friday’s championships.
“We tried to make sure we each [qualified] in our best events [Monday], but the rest of the week, all our focus was on this meet,” said Shenendehowa senior Olivia Robbins, who won Friday’s girls’ 55-meter hurdles and qualified earlier in the week for the state championships as part of her squad’s 4x400-meter relay team. “We knew it would be a tough week, but we pushed through it because we knew how much we wanted this win.”
The way the schedule set up, Shenendehowa girls’ head coach Rob Cloutier described the time in between the qualifier and sectionals as a “wasted week” for training. Saratoga Springs junior Amelia Mahoney — scheduled to compete today at the Millrose Games in New York City with her school’s 4x800-meter relay team — said area athletes knew the clock was not going to pop Friday with eye-pleasing times at the sectional championships.
“”We weren’t expecting too many fast times,” said Mahoney, who won the 1,000-meter run and took second place behind freshman teammate Kelsey Chmiel in the 1,500-meter run. “We just wanted to get points for the team.”
That mandate was extra tough to meet for the Saratoga Springs boys’ team, which competed without senior Aidan Tooker. The distance star will compete in today’s New Balance Mile at the Millrose Games, but the Blue Streaks were able to hold off a great effort from Bethlehem (86 points) to finish in second place, despite Tooker’s absence.
“Without Aidan, other guys needed to step up and have good races,” said Saratoga Springs senior Rob Haughton, who won dashes at 55 and 300 meters. “I felt like we did that.”
The Shenendehowa boys’ main source of strength on the track came from 600 to 1,600 meters; Schmidt won the 600-meter run, while fellow senior Mitchell Halpern finished first in both the 1,000- and 1,600-meter races. Meanwhile, the team’s throwing combination of seniors Kyle Bruns, Dan Cherko, Mike Jeffers, and Kade Lampman netted the top three spots in both the shot put and weight throw to produce 48 points on their own.
Nick Michalowski, a junior, also had a big day for the Plainsmen, winning the 55-meter hurdles and taking second place in the 55-meter dash. Michalowski had taken second place in the hurdles at the state qualifier, and said he’d spent the few days in between the competitions itching for the chance to compete again in his top event.
“He had a better day than me, no excuses. He PR’d,” Michalowski said of Colonie junior Jeremiah House, who won at the qualifier meet before taking third place at sectionals. “All week, I just thought about what I could do better.”
Also seeking the chance for some redemption was Shenendehowa sophomore Hannah Reale, who missed nearly all of the cross country season with an injury. Her big moment Friday came in the 1,000-meter run when she split a pair of Saratoga Springs runners to take a pivotal second-place finish.
“That was huge for us,” Cloutier said. “That was a swing event late in the meet for us.”
“We wanted to keep pushing [the Saratoga Springs runners] and see what we’d have left,” said Reale, who ran most of the race with Shenendehowa senior Danielle Jordan, who took fourth place. “They’re a great team, but we are, too.”
Outside of Haughton and Halpern, no other male competitor won multiple solo events Friday. On the girls’ side, Albany’s Jahari Coleman (55-meter dash, 300-meter dash) and Shenendehowa’s Jill Shippee (shot put, weight throw) each won two events.
In winning its first indoor team title since 2007, the Shenendehowa boys overcame adversity away from the competition surfaces. Not long before the season started, head coach Jason Burlingame’s father passed away after a short battle with mesothelioma, creating a more emotional winter than most for the close-knit team.
Shenendehowa 134, Saratoga Springs 89, Bethlehem 86, Shaker 66, Guilderland 43, Colonie 37, Schenectady 16, CBA 15, Albany 10.
55 — Robert Haughton (Sara), 6.89; 300 — Haughton (Sara), 37.34; 600 — Tyler Schmidt (Shen), 1:28.11; 1,000 — Mitchell Halpern (Shen), 2:38.02; 1,600 — Halpern (Shen), 4:31.24; 3,200 — Paul Nichols (Shak), 9:54.48; 55 hurdles — Nick Michalowski (Shen), 7.80; 800 relay — Colonie (James Newsom, Jeremiah House, Xavier Washington, Zach Walsh), 1:39.05; 1,600 relay — Bethlehem (Hani Ahmed, Justis Jones, Malick Diamonde, Nate Brands), 3:37.51; 3,200 relay — Bethlehem (Alex Python, Chris Davitt, Jack Huber, Lucas Culley), 8:30.18.
High jump — Zaviir Berry (Guil), 6-4; Long jump — Clarence Skipper (Guil), 20-11 3/4 ; Triple jump — Ronel Forde (Shak), 47-5; Pole vault — Tom Conboy (Sara), 13-6; Shot put — Mike Jeffers (Shen), 51-7 1/4 ; Weight — Kade Lampman (Shen), N/A.
Shenendehowa 159, Saratoga Springs 130, Bethlehem 72, Albany 54, Shaker 34, Guilderland 27, Colonie 14, Schenectady 3.
55 — Jahari Coleman (Alb), 7.44; 300 — Coleman (Alb), 42.82; 600 — Sija Los (Sara), 1:40.53; 1,000 — Amelia Mahoney (Sara), 3:01.20; 1,500 — Kelsey Chmiel (Sara), 4:42.93; 1,500 walk — Lydia Frick (Colo), 8:15.25; 3,000 — Paris Fenoff (Sara), 10:13.63; 55 hurdles — Olivia Robbins (Shen), 8.75; 800 relay — Shenendehowa (Melissa Haas, Rachel Venditti, Ava Sullivan, Hannah Crounse), 1:53.77; 1,600 relay — Shenendehowa (Robbins, Emily Crounse, Rachel Venditti, Kelly Hamlin), 4:11.24; 3,200 relay — Saratoga Springs (Chmiel, Keellyn Cummings, Alex Delnicki, Los), 9:50.08.
High jump — Eileen Bequette (Alba), 5-4; Long jump — Bella Bruno (Guil), 16-9.25; Triple jump — Nia Joyner (Shak), 35-3.75; Pole vault — Tedi DeMaria (Beth), 11-0; Shot put — Jill Shippee (Shen), 43-10.5; Weight — Shippee (Shen), distance not reported.