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Quercia races to state 800-meter title

Just before taking his talents to the University of Texas, Mike Quercia had one more important duty to tend to -- namely, winning a state championship in the 800-meter run.

And Quercia did just that on Friday at Vestal High School, not only winning the 800 gold medal, but posting the fastest time of any of the 37 runners, large and small schools alike.

Quercia took the lead right from the opening gun, hit the halfway mark in 54.54 seconds, then nearly went as fast on the second half despite clipping the heel of Liverpool's Zavon Watkins just before hitting the final turn.

In a time of one minute, 50.27 seconds, Quercia claimed the Division II (small school) crown by more than five seconds over Rhinebeck's Dylan Nowik and, overall, beat Watkins, the Division I state champion, by 1.01 seconds.

A day later, in the 4x800 relay, Quercia struck again, this time joining Jesse Garn, Tom Riccardi and Ryan Manahan to win the Division II portion of the event in a thrilling finish. The Mustangs, in 7:49.67, beat Bayport-Blue Point (7:49.68) by 0.01 seconds.

Garn, on his own, worked his way to a third-place medal in the Division II mile, the junior finishing in 4:15.84 as Fayetteville-Manlius star Alex Hatz won the overall state race in 4:07.47 and Greene's Chad Noelle (4:11.97) prevailed in Division II. The girls' Mustangs' 4x800 relay quartet of Rachel Garn, Lizzy Dean, Laura Quercia and Maggie Dunn finished 21st in a time of 9:43.15.

Solvay thrower C.J. Brooks earned a medal in the Division II shot put, taking fifth place as he tossed it 52 feet 10 1/4 inches. Wheatley's Josh Haghighi won with 60 feet 6 inches, the best throw in either division.

Westhill had a strong showing in the Division II boys 4x400 relay as Ryan Brennan, Peter Clark, Matt Trendowski and Jack Honis finished seventh in 3:27.47, with Bayport-Blue Point (3:21.36) on top. Kevin Zych ran to a time of 10:07.02 in the 3,200-meter event.

For West Genesee, the boys 4x400 relay team of Steve Houghmaster, Zach Lafaver, Jake Lafaver and Sam Reedy (with John DeLallo and Billy Gabriel as alternates) finished 11th in 3:25.24, with Newburgh Free Academy winning in 3:13.96. On the girls side, the Wildcats' Katie Bott was 11th in Division I and 15th overall in 2:16.57, where Kellenberg's Kim Mackay (2:07.75) was victorious.

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