ALBANY -- Sometimes you train.
Sometimes you are the train.
Transport for Section II athletes headed to the indoor track and field state meet in two weeks will make just one whistle stop when it comes to the girls' 300-meter dash, and that stop will be Rotterdam, where it will pick up three runners from two rival high schools.
Schalmont senior Mia D'Ambrosio blasted her way to victory in the 300 meters in 41.15 at the Section II state qualifier at UAlbany's SEFCU Arena on Sunday -- to go along with her dominant victory in the 55 (7.07) -- and pulled along two runners from Mohonasen, sophomores Zionna Perez-Tucker (42.31) and Natalia Sawyer (42.41), with her.
These schools typically maintain a fierce crosstown rivalry, but in this case, it's a friendly one bolstered by the fact that the runners sometimes work out together. Anyway, D'Ambrosio is such a force of nature in Section II that her competition can only marvel at the relentless power she exhibits on the track.
"She's amazing. She's just a total, like ... train," Sawyer said. "She's just going through it. She gets out, and there's nothing stopping her. She just has such a good mindset and is just such a good person overall, which makes it even better."
D'Ambrosio is looking to improve on her 2019 indoor state meet, when she was 14th in the 300 and missed making the finals for the 55 by one-hundredth of a second.
On Sunday, she was close to her season-best in the 55 and did what she had to do in the 300, having established a state meet standard without much difficulty earlier in the season.
Her best time in the 300 was a 39.81 at the Yale Track Classic.
"I did perform the way I wanted to. I felt really strong. I felt really powerful," she said. "Obviously, there's always room for improvement, so I'm excited to get it done.
"It's nice, going in, already having been through it [the state meet]. I know how to control nerves, and I know how to prepare. I've had great competition all year, but now is the time to see who's got it the most, who wants it the most."
Sawyer was also a dual qualifier, winning the 55 hurdles after an awkward first hurdle in preliminaries following a 10-minute delay to tend to a runner who had fallen in a previous race.
She shook that off and still posted the fastest time, in 8.87, then improved upon it with an 8.55 in the final.
"So I got into a stutter-step [in preliminaries], I saw a girl coming up on me and thought, 'It's either now or never,' so I changed the speed and just went for it," Sawyer said. "By the second hurdle, I was already in the rhythm. I just had to get over that first hurdle, it's in the past, it's behind me. Just got to keep looking forward.
"The wrong move, like hitting a hurdle with your knee or something, can determine your whole race. It all depends on how you get out and how you handle the race. If you choose, 'Oh, I already messed up, I'm gone for the rest of the race,' you're going to lose."
"It shows what kind of athlete she is that she can recover from that in a very short race," Mohonasen coach Bill Sherman said. "And she has a short memory. That helps. So in the finals, she was flawless, and we were really happy about that."
If South Schenectady County owned the girls' 300, the North end owned the girls' 800-meter relay.
The Niskayuna team of senior Zoe Harris, juniors Marissa Wise and Lindsey Matthews and freshman Kaleigh West posted a 1:49.06 to win, and the relay from Schenectady will also go to the state meet, finishing second in 1:51.08.
Harris and Wise were on the Silver Warriors' 1,600 relay that finished seventh overall at the state meet last year, and handoff communication has been bolstered by the fact that many of the same runners competed in the 400 and 1,600 relays last spring during the outdoor season.
"They've got a lot of mojo together and know each other's tendencies, which is good," Niskayuna coach Jason DeRocco said.
He believes his relay can get down in the 1:43 range once they're on the banked track at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on State Island for the state meet on March 7.
"Well, they ran 1:44.69 at New Balance in January, so we're looking at six more weeks of training, and we're hoping they're in the 43's," he said.
"Here, on a flat track, sometimes you think about it differently," Harris said. "A banked turn usually is much faster, and I think 1:43 would be a reasonable time."
DeRocco said that if his memory serves, this will be the first state meet in which both the Niskayuna and Schenectady will run in the 800 relay.
"That's awesome. I'm really happy that they made it, too," he said.
"We're pretty close with them, especially with these last couple meets that we've had," Harris said. "We're always saying, 'Good job. Good luck. Hope you make it, too.' We always push each other. They're only, like, a mile away from us, so it's really cool to have that connection with them. Sometimes people are really, like, sassy to each other, but the good thing is we have a close connection, and they're always pushing us."
Saratoga Springs sophomore Ella Kurto rolled to victory in the 3,000 in 9:49.78, followed by Ballston Spa's Faith DeMars (10:02.08), who was another dual qualifier after winning the 1,500 in 4:45.69.
Stillwater sophomore Kelly Moran will compete in two events after winning the triple jump (37-3/4) and leading a cavalcade of Stillwater athletes behind Cobleskill-Richmondville's Olivia Chamberlain (18-9 1/4) in the long jump.
Moran jumped 18-7 1/2, followed by teammates Gianna Locci (17-11 3/4) and freshman Kara Moran (16-11 1/4).
On the boys' side, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk senior Shane Racey broke the Section II record for the second week in a row, posting a 16-6 after having gone 16-0 in the Section II Division 3 championships on Feb. 17, also at UAlbany.
On the track, Scotia-Glenville senior Josh Jeffes maintained his control of the 600 by winning in 1:24.00, 2.39 seconds ahead of Saratoga Springs' Noah Flanders.
The race took on different dynamics from last year's state qualifier, when Jeffes won in 1:26.52.
"I wanted to get out nice and easy, just establish my lead, and then I knew the kid from Saratoga was on me the second lap and I had to push," Jeffes said. "It wasn't an easy race. Last year, I think the first time was 1:26 to go to states. People were running this year. It was nice.
"I feel a lot stronger, and I'm just ready to go now. I know what I'm going into. I'm prepared. My coach let off a couple 600s, so I'm not overused as much."
LaSalle's Gitch Hayes ran a smooth 4:29.06 in the 1,600, and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake sophomore Ryan Allison stuck to his pre-race strategy for the 3,200, and it produced a victory in 9:38.23, almost five seconds ahead of Ryan Bush of Saratoga Springs.
"The first mile, I knew it was going to go out fairly fast," Allison said. "I knew I could handle it. I knew I had people I could rely on to set the pace, and I just wanted to stay behind them and basically let them lead me through it, which would make it a lot easier.
"After seeing what that first mile was, I had to pick it up a little bit and hopefully negative-split a little bit and just start passing people in the end."
After a first half of the race in slightly slower than 4:50 by the leaders, Allison ran 4:46 for the second half.
"It went exactly what I imagined it would go like," he said. "I'm not really sure about placing [at the state meet], but I ran a 9:25.32 earlier this year, and I'm looking to improve on that by a pretty good amount, hopefully. There will be a lot of good competition, and hopefully I can pace that first mile well and pick it up again, which is what I've been doing."
That was echoed by Schenectady junior Shemar Delphin, who won the 55 in 6.63, barely edging out Ichabod Crane's Baden Seabury (6.66) and Albany's Andre Woods (6.67).
"I knew it was going to be close, but I'm not cocky or anything. I thought Andre won, actually," Delphin said. "I don't know if I'll be nervous [at the state meet], because I've been to big track meets before. It's not that big of a deal. And there's faster people, so I'm hoping to run faster. I'm just worried about improvement."
55 -- Mia D'Ambrosio (Schalmont), 7.07; Caileigh Miron (Cohoes), 7.36; Kaleigh West (Niskayuna), 7.42.
300 -- Mia D'Ambrosio (Schalmont), 41.15; Zionna Perez-Tucker (Mohonasen), 42.31; Natalia Sawyer (Mohonasen), 42.41; Gabby Karins (Shaker), 47.13.
600 -- Jada Dennis (Shenendehowa), 1:37.35; Skyler Smith (Niskayuna), 1:39.03; Leonni Griffin (Shaker), 1:39.32.
1,000 -- Mackenzie Hart (Saratoga), 2:57.59; Quinn Collins (Greenwich), 2:58.52; Leonni Griffin (Shaker), 2:58.96.
1,500 -- Faith DeMars (Ballston Spa), 4:45.69; Tori Mariano (Shaker), 4:49.42; Mia Paolino (Burnt Hills), 4:52.42.
3,000 -- Ella Kurto (Saratoga), 9:49.78; Faith DeMars (Ballston Spa), 10:02.08; Sheridan Wheeler (Saratoga), 10:04.28.
55 HH -- Natalia Sawyer (Mohonasen), 8.55; Avery Hebert (Stillwater), 9.17; Maeghan Hickey (Guilderland), 9.27.
800 relay -- Niskayuna (Zoey Harris, Marissa Wise, Lindsey Matthews, Kaleigh West), 1:49.06; Schenectady, 1:51.08.
1,600 relay -- Guilderland (Kate Scanlan, Jane Leader, Laila Jerome, Tyler Howard), 4:13.84; Shenendehowa, 4:17.75.
3,200 relay -- Saratoga Springs (Anya Belisle, Emily Bush, Mackenzie Hart, Ella Kurto), 9:30.00; Shenendehowa, 9:36.67.
1,500 racewalk --- Katie Rose (Hoosic Valley), 8:05.14; Helen Scott (Colonie), 9:17.63; Michaela Needham (Columbia), 9:38.55.
High jump -- Makiya Donnelly (Guilderland), 5-4; Mia Belanger (Burnt Hills), 5-3; Anna Evans (Saratoga), 5-2.
Pole vault -- Paige Brinsko (Stillwater), 11-0; Alexandra Feurer (Shaker), 10-9; Ava Tyler (Broadalbin-Perth), 10-6.
Long jump -- Olivia Chamberllain (Cobleskill-Richmondville), 18-9 1/4; Kelly Moran (Stillwater), 18-7 1/2; Gianna Locci (Stillwater), 17-11 3/4.
Triple jump -- Kelly Moran (Stillwater), 37-3/4; Michaela Schaffer (Shenendehowa), 35-10 3/4; Julissa Forde (Shaker), 35-1/2.
Shot put -- Madeleine Duchaussee (Saratoga), 39-8; Celia Ralph (Shenendehowa), 37-11 1/2; Emelene Burek (Shaker), 34-9 1/4.
Weight throw -- Lea Richard (South Glens Falls), 45-9 1/4; Emily Forand (Bethlehem), 39-3 3/4; Uchenna Uba (Ravena), 39-3.
55 -- Shemar Delphin (Schenectady), 6.63; Baden Seabury (Ichabod Crane), 6.66; Andre Woods (Albany), 6.67.
300 -- Fabien De Silva Jr. (Colonie), 38.05; Baden Seabury (Ichabod Crane), 38.06; Nate Rodriguez (CBA), 38.22.
600 -- Josh Jeffes (Scotia-Glenville), 1:24.00; Noah Flanders (Saratoga), 1:26.39; Michael Hazaz (Bethlehem), 1::27.69.
1,000 -- Thomas Donohue (Columbia), 2:39.42; T.J. Randall (Shaker), 2:39.69; Will Cusato (Guilderland), 2:39.84.
1,600 -- Gitch Hayes (LaSalle), 4:29.06; Will Marchant (Burnt Hills), 4:33.35; Brady Tooker (Saratoga), 4:34.37.
3,200 -- Ryan Allison (Burnt Hills), 9:38.23; Ryan Bush (Saratoga), 9:43.19; Sean O'Brien (Guilderland), 9:47.53.
55 HH -- Ahmad Praileau (Albany Academy), 7.86; Bryan Jacobs (Maple Hill), 7.87; Reynaldo Reid (Shaker), 7.88.
800 relay -- Shenendehowa (Carter Cukerstein, Tyler Dedrick, Evan Bean, Michael McElrath), 1:37.71; Green Tech, 1:38.09.
1,600 relay -- Saratoga Springs (Noah Flanders, Braden Flanders, Casey Navin, Evan Klotz), 3:36.36; Shenendehowa, 3:37.45.
3,200 relay -- Shaker (T.J. Randall, Dean Hood, Christopher Garretson, Francisco Mendonca), 8:33.97; Shenendehowa, 8:34.43.
High jump -- Ethan Foster (CBA), 5-10; Jack Campito (Albany Academy), 5-10; Thomas Dandrow (Tamarac), 5-8.
Pole vault -- Shane Racey (Ravena), 16-6; Matti Levasalmi (Bethlehem), 14-0; Alex Robin (Shaker), 13-0.
Long jump -- Reynaldo Reid (Shaker), 21-7 1/4; Jacob Gomez (Amsterdam), 21-3 1/4; Alexandros Wheeler (Columbia), 20-9 1/4.
Triple jump -- Alexandros Wheeler (Columbia), 43-11 1/2; Dylan Zinsley (Shenendehowa), 42-6 1/2; Zachary Eldred (Columbia), 42-1 3/4.
Shot put -- Tino Mancini (Broadalbin-Perth), 51-10 3/4; Zachary Trump (Shenendehowa), 49-3; Jason Marincic (Shenendehowa), 45-11 1/2.
Weight throw -- Scott Dochat (Shenendehowa), 63-4 1/4; Kevin Fobare (Shenendehowa), 52-4 1/4; Jason Marincic (Shenendehowa), 51-5 1/4.