YOUNGSTOWN - Corey Wefing had seen the times, and boy, were they fast.
East Aurora's Sean Phillips held the top seed in all of Section 6 in the 3,200 meters with a time of 9:29.47, and Nate Smith of Pioneer was right behind him at 9:29.92.
Wefing was fast, too, of course. Fourth in the section fast. But he hadn't ever been that fast.
Maple Grove’s Corey Wefing was the winner of the 3,200 meters while competing in the Section 6 Track & Field Championships at in Youngstown, N.Y. on Friday.
That is, of course, until Friday.
Wefing, who entered the Section 6 Track & Field Championships as the fourth-seeded runner - his time of 9:47.50 was over 17 seconds behind Phillips - surprised even himself on day one of the state qualifier when, after biding his time by staying with the pack over the first 2,900 meters of the race, he found that little something extra within himself to pull away and capture not only the race, but a trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Track & Field Championships on June 8 and 9.
"I was ranked fourth (before the championships) and had seen the times, and they were really fast," Wefing said. "That made me a little more nervous because I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep up.
"I was just trying to stay with them, they're all great runners and I was hoping to finish in the top four, but something came over me those last 300 meters."
Wefing, a sophomore, turned up the speed and crossed the finish line a full five seconds ahead of the second-place finisher (Smith, 9:35.12) with a time of 9:30.23. Not only was the time almost 18 seconds faster than he'd ever run, but it also broke Jesse Rappole's (son of Maple Grove coach Doc Rappole) 12-year old school record.
"The kid is untapped," Doc Rappole said. "To run in the low 9:30s as a sophomore is really impressive and we knew it was only a matter of time he would break the record. My son was the first person I called (after it was over) and he was just tickled to death."
Talk about rising to the occasion.
"The group went out together and stayed together for the first seven laps," Maple Grove coach Jim Foley said. "Then they made that first turn around that last lap, and Corey just turned it up to a whole different gear. You could see it, he was just untouchable. We all knew he had it in him, and to see it was incredibly exciting."
Foley noted that had been working over the past few meets at conserving his energy until the last possible moment. Clearly, that new strategy paid off in a big way.
"The last couple of meets he's been playing around with biding his time," Foley said, "because his quarter speed is like nobody's business. If he can bide his time (like he did today), not many can hang with him that last quarter."
Wefing's next task will be today when day two of the action picks back up at 12:30 p.m. He'll be competing with his teammates in the 4x800 relay.
"Hopefully we'll be able to bring along some of my teammates (to states)," Wefing said.
Along with Wefing, another local athlete earned a place in the state championships - Lauren Reyda of Fredonia. The freshman, already the top-seeded runner in the 3,000 meters heading into the meet, captured the race in a wire-to-wire victory.
"She ran a great race," Rappole said, "and led from start to finish, which is tough in the 3,000."
Also headed to the states will be Jennie Thies of Southwestern and Mackenzie Wright of Falconer. Thies won the triple jump with a distance of 37-1 and the previously sixth-ranked Wright was second with a 34-8.
Kassandra Erdmann, who is seeded second in the discus and sixth in the shot put, placed third for Randolph in the shot put with a distance of 35 feet, 11 inches - just under three inches short of the winner, Alden's Miranda Daucher - and Maple Grove's Hope Pietrocarlo set a new personal best in the 3,000 meters when she finished third with a time of 10:43.83.