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Burnt Hills high jumper setting the bar higher

Burnt Hills high jumper setting the bar higher

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake senior Samantha Hjelmar is in a good place once again, healthy and jumping
Burnt Hills high jumper setting the bar higher
Samantha Hjelmar of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake clears the bar at 5-2 to win the high jump at Friday's Section II Division II championship at the University at Albany.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake senior Samantha Hjelmar is in a good place once again, healthy and jumping high, and thinking she can go even higher.

“It’s good. I’m back,” the 17-year-old declared after defending her Section II Division II high jump title Friday at SEFCU Arena. “I’ve come back from three different injuries, and to be that close now, it’s exciting. It’s just a matter of time.”

Hjelmar was referring to the height of 5-7 that she made three attempts at after winning with a 5-2. She touched the bar with her back legs on the way down on her last bid, after knocking it with her rear end in two the previous attempts.

Her indoor best is a 5-61⁄2 which she cleared in winning the Emerging Elite national title as a sophomore.

“I want it really bad. I’ve wanted it for a while,” Hjelmar said of clearing 5-7. “It’s definitely there. I’ve got the states and, hopefully, the nationals to do it. It’s a matter of timing and snapping my legs.”

“It’s great that she has her confidence back,” Burnt Hills coach Eric Freestone said after watching Hjelmar just miss at 5-7. “I think at some point she can get it.”

Though Hjelmar consistently finished among the leaders during her junior year, injuries involving her right plant foot hampered her performances. She won the Section II Division II crown last winter by clearing five feet even.

She started at that height Friday and made it it easily on one try, just as she did at 5-2 and 5-4.

“Bruised ankle, ankle tendonitis, broken toe,” the University of Buffalo-bound standout said. “I feel good now, and my confidence is back. Last year was not only a physical struggle, but a mental one, too.”

Hjelmar was best at Monday’s state meet qualifier with a 5-6. She felt so good Friday that she bypassed that height after clearing 5-4 and went for her personal best.

“I just wanted to go for it,” she said. “I’ve done 5-6 already. Why not bump it up?”

Hjelmar placed sixth at last year’s state meet with a 5-4, two inches off the winning jump.

“I’ve been to states every year since I was a freshman,” Hjelmar said. “Originally, it was height I was looking for. Now it’s height and place.”

* Some say Marisa DiVietro is the fastest female lacrosse player in Section II. Without a stick in her hands, defenders surrounding her and on a smooth surface, the Niskayuna senior is even faster.

She displayed her gift for go with a win the 600 (1:43.08), with an anchor leg on a first-place 4x800 relay (10:05.87), and with a monster leadoff leg on a victorious 4x400 relay (4:15.61).

“I expected none of this to happen,” the first-year indoor participant said after her 600 run where she edged schoolmate Amelia Kokernak (1:43.37).

DiVietro coasted to the finish in the 4x800 after Sydney Smith, Abigail Spiers and Victoria Padula had opened up a substantial lead. DeVietro was just warming up.

“We had such a big lead, my coach told me to conserve energy for what’s next,” DiVietro said of her 800 relay leg. “I think that helped.”

DiVietro started the 4x400 relay with a 61-second anchor that had the arena buzzing, and Niskayuna held the big lead she built with Grace Minkin, Erica Wasserbach and Kokernak.

“I’ll take 10 of her,” Niskayuna coach Jason DeRocco said of DiVietro.

* The Niskayuna girls claimed their first team title since 2011 with 110 points, topping 2015 champ Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (100).

“All week we talked about each person doing something for the good of the team,” said DeRocco, whose Silver Warriors were third last year behind runner-up Holy Names. “There wasn’t a dead zone in the team. Kids stepped up, from the younger grades to some older kids who we put in different events.”

The 4x800 relay group set the tone with their lopsided win early in the meet. Mohonasen ran second in 10:27.78

“Today it was all about the team,” Spiers said. “We just wanted to win and get points.”

* Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake athletes dominated the individual distance events. Emily Digman won the 1,000 (3:10.26) and 1,500 (5:02.60), and Eva Scott took the 3,000 (10:36.04). Kevin Gideon doubled for the Spartans in the 1,000 (2:40.92) and 1,600 (4:36.31).

“That’s the way our team has always been,” Burnt Hills coach Chip Button said. “We’re built around distance runners.”

* The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake boys wrestled the team title away from Amsterdam after placing second to the Rams at last year’s meet. The Spartans scored 91 points to the Rams’ 77.

“We knew it would be a tough day,” said Gideon, who set a PR with his 2:40.92 in the 1,000. “Amsterdam has amazing sprinters and jumpers. We came prepared and we got points in a lot of events. Every point counted.”

* Amsterdam senior Omahri Sturdivant blew away his PR in the triple jump with a winning 46-10 1⁄2, while also placing first in the long jump at 21-71⁄2 and the 300 in 37.91. He was a three-event winner as a junior, as well.

“I hit it on the first jump,” Sturdivant said of toppling his previous triple jump best of 46-4. “The only thing I changed today was my steps. In the first phase I went longer instead of higher.”

Amsterdam got a 55 dash win (6.75) from rising junior Kevon Boucaud, who is only in his second year of track competition.

8 Multi-state champion Leah Moran of Holy Names popped a personal indoor-best 18-8 1⁄2 in defending her long jump crown. She came back with a season-best 38-5 to take the triple jump.

“It felt like a long jump should feel,” the senior said of her impressive first attempt. “I’ve been struggling a bit. My best [this season] was 18-2 before that. Everything came together.”

Moran’s previous indoor jong jump best was an 18-6 which she set last season.


Team scores

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 91, Amsterdam 77, Niskayuna 62, Green Tech 51, Averill Park 45.5, Ballston spa 45, LaSalle 36, Columbia 30.5, South Glens Falls 27, Mohonasen 16, Troy 15.

55 — Kevon Boucaud (Amst), 6.75); 300 — Omahri Sturdivant (Amst), 37.91; 600 — Joey Somerville (Col), 1:27.82; 1,000 — Kevin Gideon (BH), 2:40.92; 1,600 — Gideon (BH), 4:36.31; 3,200 — Finnia Jacobson-Schulte (Tr), 10:23.40; 55 hurdles — Justin Burke (LSI), 8.08; 4x200 — Niskayuna (Michael Reyes, Joey Romano, Soja Moore, Mateo Parzych), 1:39.42; 4x400 relay — LaSalle (Amir Young, Tom Kolath, Griffin Coughlin, Leon Wilson), 3:47.32; 4x800 — Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (Michael Bashant, Rece Gobel, Shawn Rousseau, Logan Short), 8:47.54.

High jump — Zach Moses (GT), 5-10; Pole vault — Jarret Pidgeon (SGF), 12-6; Long jump — Sturdivant (Amst), 21-7 1⁄2; Triple jump — Sturdivant (Amst), 46-10 1⁄2; Shot put — Elijah Washington (BS), 47-3.


Team scores

Niskayuna 110, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 100, Emma Willard 70, South Glens Falls 50, Amsterdam 44, Columbia 35, Holy Names 32, Ballston Spa 19, Averill Park 18, Mohonasen 18.

55 — Mikayla Culnan (EW), 7:42; 300 — Asia Cornwall (Col), 43.63; 600 — Marisa DiVietro (Nisk), 1:43.08; 1,000 — Emily Digman (BH), 3:10.26; 1,500 — Digman (BH), 5:02.60; 3,000 — Eva Scott (BH), 10:36.04; 55 hurdles — Sabrena Quintois-McKinney (SGF), 9.49; 4x200 relay — Emma Willard (Mikayla Culnan, Lauren Berry, Kelley Abunaw, Janelle Williams), 1:51.36; 4x400 — Niskayuna (DiVietro, Grace Minkin, Erica Wasserbach, Amelia Kokernak), 4:15.61; 4x800 relay — Niskayuna (Sydney Smith, Abigail Spiers, Victoria Padula, DiVietro), 10:05.87.

High jump — Samantha Hjelmar (BH), 5-4; Pole vault — Kalli Manly (BH), 10-6; Long jump — Leah Moran (HN), 18-8 1⁄2; Triple jump — Moran (HN), 38-5; Shot put — Cecelia Longo (EW), 34-6 1⁄4; 1,500 race walk (nonscoring) — Sierra Sukay (EW), 8:46.62.

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