When it mattered the most, West Genesee's Billy Gabriel and Marcellus' Jesse Garn both went to the front of the pack - and stayed there - to earn state championships Saturday at Cornell University's Barton Hall.
The annual New York State Public High School Athletic Association meet featured just two winning performances from Section III competitors - and they turned out to be Gabriel and Garn, both seniors.
In the 1,600-meter run, it was Gabriel's turn to shine. Amid a field of 31 runners, Gabriel quickly found his way to the front, then steadily got away from Chaminade's Thomas Awad, his closest pursuer.
When Gabriel hit the finish line in four minutes, 16.91 seconds, he had set a new West Genesee school record and was 3.12 seconds ahead of Awad to earn a state title. Garn, who also raced in the mile, was fifth in 4:24.08.
Of course, Garn would have his own grand moment in the 1,000-meter run. Despite the presence of Liverpool's Zavon Watkins, the Section III record-holder in the event, Garn found his way to the lead and just had enough to fend off Watkins' late charge, winning in 2:29.28 to Watkins' 2:29.54.
Just behind them was Gabriel's West Genesee teammate, John DeLallo, who landed in third place with a superb clocking of 2:31.25. Also at this meet, DeLallo, Gabirel, Mark Reilly and Matt Byrnes landed in ninth place in the 4x800 relay in 8:15.65 as, on the girls side, WG freshman Laura Leff was eighth in the 1,000-meter run in 2:58.44.
Marcellus senior Nick Huss tied for 13th place in the pole vault, clearing 12 feet 6 inches as Jordan Yamoah (Arlington) won with 15 feet. Also for the Mustangs, sophomore Ryan Manahan won his section in the 600-meter run and was 18th overall in 1:25.89. Westhill/Bishop Ludden junior Betsy Black was 21st in the girls 3,000-meter run in 10:56.01.