ALBANY — Schenectady senior Maazin Ahmed ran for a buddy rather than himself at the Section II state meet track and field qualifier Sunday at SEFCU Arena.
The No. 1 seed in the 1,600-meter run, Ahmed hung with the leaders before slipping back to third, which allowed Nick Hunziker of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake to make the state meet team, too.
"I backed off," Ahmed said. "The only way Nick would have a shot is if I finished third and he got fourth."
That's what happened in a race which was won by Matt Cavaliere of Bethlehem (4:22.53). Donnovan Tucker of Niskayuna was second (4:23.99) ahead of Ahmed (4:26.43) and Hunziker (4:32.88).
"In Section II races, he was undefeated," Schenectady indoor head coach Joe Bennett said of his star Georgetown-bound senior. "He's such a good kid. He respects the other kids, and they respect him. They all run with each other and like each other."
Cavaliere and Tucker automatically qualified for Saturday's state meet at Ocean Breeze in Staten Island by taking the first two spots. Ahmed made it because he had met the state meet time standard earlier in the season. With his fourth, Hunziker made it to next Saturday's showcase as the 1,600 runner on Section II's intersectional relay.
"Section II is definitely a big sportsmanship section," Ahmed said. "Last year at the Suburban Council [outdoor] championships, I was racing Jack [Huber of Bethlehem] in the 1,600. He kept pushing me and was saying, 'You can do this.' I won, barely."
Had Ahmed — a Millrose Games mile participant — prevailed Sunday ahead of Cavaliere and Tucker, Hunziker would not have made the state meet team.
"We talked about it," Hunziker, a junior, said. "If he [Ahmed] got third, I would go."
Hunziker had to hold on for fourth, though, and did so after a battle with Shenendehowa's Alex Hislop.
"That was definitely scary. Was I going to be at home or at Staten Island?," Hunziker said. "I didn't want to spend the whole year thinking about being one spot off. I didn't want that to happen."
Bennett lauded Ahmed for his sportsmanship, but said come Saturday it's every runner for himself.
"Trust me," Bennett said. "Next week, he won't do that."
Saratoga Springs junior Shea Weilbaker, the 3,200 No. 1 seed, also eased up a bit which allowed Glens Falls senior Chris Hughes to win the event.
"I was up with Shea and with three laps left, he said 'Congratulations,'" Hughes recounted after running a 9:38.61. "He figured he already qualified. That was sportsmanship."
Weilbaker, who joined Ahmed in the Millrose Games mile earlier this winter, ran a 9:44.20.
"Why win?" Weilbaker asked. "Chris is a great guy."
Weilbaker anchored Saratoga's winning 4x800 relay (8:16.39) late in the meet.
"He was the top guy in the race [3,200], but he only had to finish in the top three," Saratoga boys' indoor distance coach Shane Zanetti said. "He was running the 4x8 later. It was, 'Get yourself to the meet next week.'"
Schenectady senior Mary Liebers didn't like the wait before her 1,500 race walk midway through the meet.
"A lot more time for me to be nervous," Liebers said. "It's nice to get it over with."
Liebers did that last week in winning the non-scoring 1,500 to begin the Section II Division I meet. The wait didn't effect he in her return to the same track where she posted an 8:06.81. Last Sunday she clocked an 8:22.97.
"Tremendous difference," Liebers said. "Last week I didn't have as much competition. Sophie [Tesla of Saratoga Springs) was there today and she was right with me for quite a while. I thanked her after for pushing me."
Liebers is returning to the state meet where last year she went 7:42 for a PR, but was disqualified due to a bent knee infraction.
"My form has improved a lot," said Liebers, "Although I don't expect to win, it will be an experience. It's an opportunity. In a way there's no pressure."
Schenectady junior Trebor Davis won the 55 (6.70) and schoolmate Keegan Cochrane, a senior, was first in the 600 (1:26.90). Davis prevailed in a thriller over Orville Ivey, Jr. of CBA (6.71), Nan Xie of Bethlehem (6.72) and Mingrui Liu of Shenendehowa (6.74).
"Last week coach [Bennett] was saying everyone is dipping at the first line. It's the second line," Davis said of the finish stripe. "I had a bad start and I started to catch up. I saw everyone dipping at the first line. I dipped at the second line. It was close."
Davis anchored Schenectady's runner-up 4x200 relay that also made the state meet after Colonie was disqualified for having a runner out of his lane.
Schenectady junior Colin James went 44-4 3/4 for a personal-best and second place in the triple jump. Throughout the event he often glanced down at his orange racers.
"Last night I wrote 13.72 [meters] on them. That's 45 feet," James said. "Every time I jumped I looked at my shoes for motivation. I got the idea from my Christian Taylor. He wrote 18.30 on his shoes at the 2016 Rio Olympics. That's the world record."
Lauren Santiago of Amsterdam and Kelsey Chmiel of Saratoga Springs both had a win under her belt when the juniors hooked up for the anchor leg of the 4x400 relay late in Sunday's meet.
Santiago got the baton just ahead of the the Blue Streaks All-American, and held that spot in a thrilling finish.
"I thought I could beat her again," Santiago said. "I beat her in the 4x4 at the outdoor sectionals last year. The 400 is my favorite event, and I had confidence, but it's Kelsey."
Brenda Santana, Gabby Stanavich and Olivia Lazarou ran before Santiago, and the group joined for a 4:11.19. Saratoga went 4:12.59.
"Our plan was to get to Lauren with a little lead," Amsterdam coach Stu Palczak said.
Santiago earlier won the 300 (42.31) and Stanavich was best in the 55 hurdles (8.43). Chmiel, the multi-champion distance specialist, eased to a win in the 3,000 (9:38.40).
Juliana Geniti's basketball season may have ended Thursday when Scotia-Glenville lost to Gloversville in a sectional game, but the senior's indoor track season will continue for at least another week after she won the 600 (1:39.61) in a duel with Quinn Collins of Greenwich (1:40.16).
"One of my goals was to make states in all three seasons," Geniti, a five-sport varsity athlete, said. "I've got two out of three down."
Geniti earned a spot at the state cross country meet in the fall, when she also played field hockey. The senior secured her indoor state meet berth with a personal-best time.
"In the last lap I looked over my shoulder and saw two girls," Geniti said. "My thought was, 'I can do this.' Kicking is my strong part."
Rotterdam will be represented at the state meet by 1,000 winner Antonio Beltran of Schalmont and Mohonasen pole vaulters Lena Calkins and Emily Racana, who placed second and third to Section II record-holder Alana Carroll of Averill Park.
Beltran (2:39.53) beat three Class A runners to the line, including Huber, the race runner-up.
"I was fourth last year. This year I really wanted to go," Beltran said. "Me and Jack were feeling it out, and I was waiting for him to do something. With two laps left I made my move and kept going."
Calkins went 11-3 to break her own school record.
"She has been at 11 for a few weeks and broke the ceiling today," Mohonasen coach Bill Sherman said. "Once an athlete breaks a ceiling good things often happen. She went 11-3 on her first try, and tried 11-6 and just missed. I expect she'll bring it at the state meet."
55 - Trebor Davis (Sche), 6.70; Orville Ivey (CBA), 6.71; Nan Xie (Beth), 6.72; Mingrui Liu (Shen), 6.74; Michael Hermance (Colo), 6.83. 300 - Christian Carr (RCS), 37.03; Nan Xie (Beth), 37.31; Bobby Fredericks (Colo), 38.09; Alec Wright (Colo), 39.42. 600 - Keegan Cochrane (Sche), 1:26.90; Evan Lafleche (Shen), 1:28.51; Carlos Brito (Colo), 1:29.28; Dan Zukowski (Colo), 1:29.66; Noah Flanders (Sara), 1:29.71. 1,000 - Antonio Beltran (Schal), 2:39.53; Jack Huber (Beth), 2:41.36; Liam Hickey (Shen), 2:41.40; Max Heller (Alb), 2:42.19; Joe Yusaitis (Stil), 2:44.57. 1,600 - Matt Cavaliere (Beth), 4:22.53; Donnovan Tucker (Nisk), 4:23.99; Maazin Ahmed (Sche), 4:26.43; Nick Hunziker (BH), 4:32.88; Alex Hislop (Shen), 4:35.61. 3,200 - Chris Hughes (GF), 9:38.61; Shea Weilbaker (Sara), 9:44.20; Colin Ross (Nisk), 9:47.55; Tyler Berg (BH), 9:51.72; Marty Dolan (Nisk), 9:55.26. 55H - Josiah King (Colo), 7.72; Jeremy Chen (Shak), 7.91; Htat Lwin (Rens), 7.99; Cristian Hubbard (Colo), 8.09; Jaron Meyer (Shen), 8.39. 4x200 relay - Shenendehowa (Mingrui Liu, Tyler Reese, Jaron Meyer, Jackson Haskins), 1:36.73; Schenectady, 1:37.93; Columbia, 1:44.44. 4x400 relay - Colonie (Carlos Brito, Michael Hermance, Haliam McQueen, Andrew Shaw), 3:42.03; Columbia, 3:44.81; Shaker, 3:53.52. 4x800 relay - Saratoga Springs (Tom Bradley, Peter Moller, Ezra Ruggles, Shea Weilbaker), 8:16.39; Bethehem, 8:26.82; Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 8:41.34; Guilderland, 8:46.83; Columbia, 9:14.72.
High jump - Dominic Jack (SG), 6-3; Tyree Gonzales (LSI), 5-10; Brian Bauer (WH), 5-10 (third); Abe Sanchez (HV), 5-10; Adam Leonard (WH), 5-8. Pole vault - Shane Racey (RCS), 15-1; Casey Gribben (Shen), 14-6; Donald Jones (Alb), 13-0; Michael Scott (MH), 12-6; Keegan Skinner (CBA), 12-0. Long jump - Kirk Francis (Sara), 21-6 3/4; Akap Takor (Shak), 21-6 1/4; Jackson Haskins (Shen), 21-3 1/2; Jacob Pishkula (Shen), 20-7; AJ Weinstein (Colu), 20-5 1/2. Triple jump - AJ Weinstein (Colu), 45-5 1/2; Colin James (Sche), 44-4 3/4; Colin Tower (Shen), 42-4 1/4; Sean Meher (BP), 42-4; Jacob Pishkula (Shen), 42-3 1/2; Weight throw - Michael Gabriel (Greenw), 70-6; James Cocca (AP), 66-1; Andrew Stein (Beth), 60-4; Nino Seidou-Bkari (Colo), 54-10 1/2; Jason Briscoe (Beth), 53-3 1/2. Shot put - Michael Gabriel (Greenw), 52-10 3/4; Trever Rose (HV), 49-11; Zach Trump (Shen), 47-8 1/4; Kyle Gregor (Shen), 46-7 1/2; Mike Shields (Shen), 46-6 1/2.
55 - Renee Manosh (BH), 7.45; Lydia Ware (AP), 7.47; Charli Beekman (Amst), 7.52; Justina Musa (Guild), 7.53; Mia D'Ambrosio (Scha), 7.70. 300 - Lauren Santiago (Amst), 42.31; Kelly Hamlin (Shen), 42.99; Natalie Ricci (Coh), 43.89; Holly Moore (Beth), 44.01. 600 - Juliana Geniti (SG), 1:39.61; Quinn Collins (Greenw), 1:40.16; Jamisen Vendetti (BH), Alexandria Vellekoop (Guild), 1:44.77; Hailey Walthers (Nisk), 1:44.86. 1,000 - Rory Graham (BH), 3:01.17; Amelia Kokernak (Nisk), 3:02.07; Kathryn Tenney (Colo), 3:04.27; Madeleine Beltramo (Nisk), 3:07.50; Isabel Vogel (HN), 3:08.38. 1,500 - Samantha Vetter (Sara), 4:53.35; Charlotte Hartman (Shen), 4:54.88; Carly Veter (Sara), 4:55.93; Madeleine Hesler (Nisk), 5:00.59; Faith DeMars (BS), 5:02.25. 3,000 - Kelsey Chmiel (Sara), 9:38.40; Abigail Spiers (Nisk), 10:19.16; Faith DeMars (BS), 10:25.24; Olivia Lomascolo (Shen), 10:30.92; Madeleine Hesler (Nisk), 10:35.61. 55H - Gabby Stanavich (Amst), 8.43; Lucia D'Acchille (Greenw), 8.92; Hannah Durant (Guild), 9.15; Emma Rhodes (FF), 9.55; 4x200 relay - Niskayuna (Zoe Harris, Julia Doriski, Megan Daviero, Kristina Koes), 1:49.30; Shenendehowa, 1:51.39; Cohoes, 1:54.06; 4x400 relay - Amsterdam (Brenda Santana, Gabby Stanavich, Olivia Lazarou, Lauren Santiago), 4:11.19; Saratoga, 4:2.59; Colonie, 4:14.58; Albany, 4:38.21. 4x800 relay - Niskayuna (Charlotte Kokernak, Sydney Smith, Abigail Spiers, Amelia Kokernak), 9:32.19; Shenendehowa, 9:40.77; Guilderland, 10:10.59; Mohonasen, 10:16.05; Bethehem, 10:25.47.
High jump - Sharde Johnson (EW), 5-3; Isabella Bruno (Guild), 5-3 (second); Kionah Thomas (SGF), 5-3; Anna Evans (SSSH), 5-2; Julianna Cooper (Beth), 5-0. Pole vault - Alana Carroll (AP), 13-0; Lena Calkins (Moh), 11-3; Emily Racana (Moh), 10-0; Aleah Smith (Shen), 9-6; Lauren Berry (EW), 9-0. Long jump - Brottany Castelluccio (FF), 17-6 1/4; Jensen Kinngsley (Sara), 17-4 1/4; Isabella Bruno (Guild), 17-2 3/4; Michaela Schaffer (Shen), 16-5 3/4; Caitlyn Burns (SG), 16-1. Triple jump - Tori Whimple (MH), 36-9; Brittany Casteluccio (FF), 36-7; Isabella Bruno (Guild), 36-5 1/2; Hannah Ragule (Coh), 35-4 1/4; Matlyn Gross (Guld), 35-1. Shot put - Madison Krochina (Stil), 37-4; Journey Myricks (Shak), 36 1/4; Kelsey Neff (HN), 35-10 1/2; Celia Ralph (Shen), 35-4; Alice Aldrich (Greenw), 35 1/4. Weight throw - Chidera Anameze (Shen), 46-3 1/2; Madison Krochina (Stil), 45-9 1/4; Alica Aldrich (Greenw), 45-8; Chidalu Anameze (Shen), 38-11 1/4; Journey Myricks (Shak), 37-7 3/4; 1,500 race walk Mary Liebers (Sche), 8:06.81; Sophie Tesla (Sara), 8:17.88; L. McLaughlin-Kelly (Colo), 8:35.04; Katie Rose (HV), 8:54.69; Michaela Schramm (Shak), 8:55.17.