Eight-hundredths of a second is not a long time. And it’s all that stood between West Genesee senior Laura Leff and the 1,500-meter state indoor track and field championship last Saturday at Cornell University’s Barton Hall.
No one else in the Section III contingent, boys or girls, had a better chance than Leff, who engaged in a fierce duel with Miller Place’s Tiana Guevara, with Fayetteville-Manlius junior Annika Avery (who beat Leff in the 1,500 at the Feb. 19 sectional state qualifier) also in the mix.
Trailing with less than three laps to go, Leff, whose season-best time was four minutes, 37.08 seconds, took the lead from Guevara and, at 3:58.34, was a second ahead going into the bell lap. But Guevara stormed back, just as Avery, more than three seconds behind at the bell, made up large amounts of ground by tearing through those last 200 meters in just 34.22 seconds.
When they hit the line, Leff had posted 4:35.50 – but Guevara had passed her and won in 4:35.42, with Avery roaring into third place at 4:35.82. The top three were separated by just 0.32 seconds at the end of this scintillating race.
As for some of Section III’s other runners, Westhill/Bishop Ludden’s Annibel Coolican joined Anna Schug (CBA), Juliana Basla (Liverpool) and Natalie Marra (East Syracuse-Minoa) as the Section III team finished second in the Intersectional Medley Relay in 10:34.35, just behind Section XI (Suffolk County, Long Island), who won in 10:32.79.
Marcellus senior Rachel Garn had a solid 10th-place showing in the 1,000-meter run in 3:01.05, claiming third place in her heat as Tappan Zee’s Erin Jaskot won in 2:54.62.
WG’s Abby Uczen cleared 9 feet in the pole vault and tied for 17th place. Westhill/Ludden’s Tatiana Monds was 19th in the 55-meter dash in 7.48 seconds, just missing out on qualifying for the semifinals by 0.008 seconds, while teammate Bella Sterly was 23rd (34’3 ¾”) in the shot put.
Over in the boys state indoor meet, Nick Cometti’s time of 6.83 seconds in the 55 sprint did not get him past the opening round as he took 28th place. Jordan-Elbridge’s Dylan Whittico, joining Jordan Middleton (Auburn), Ben Slate (Hannibal) and Tayquon Hightower (Nottingham), helped Section III get 11th place in the Instersectional Medley Relay in 9:24.24.