By Jay Young
After their outstanding performances at last weekend's Section 6 Track & Field State Qualifier at Olean High School, seniors Mitch Moore of Jamestown and Christina Walter of Maple Grove will now lead representatives of the Southern Tier to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships in Cicero on Friday and Saturday.
Despite dealing with a stress fracture in her leg in 2013, Walter was able to repeat her Division 2 state title in the girls 100-meter dash for the second consecutive year, after winning both the 100 and 200 in 2012 as a sophomore.
Now the standout senior looks to be free and clear of injury, and in an ideal position to repeat her double-win performance from two years ago.
At state qualifying, Walter claimed both the 100 (12.18) and 200 (25.22) titles, setting a new track standard in the 100 and narrowly edging out Julia Ziaja of City Honors in both races.
At last year's NYSPHSAA meet, Walter claimed the 100 in 12.20 before cracking the 12-second mark in her Federation race with a second-place finish in 11.98.
Federation races pit the best individual athletes in the state against one another, regardless of the distinction between Division 1 and 2.
"She is looking to repeat (in the 100) or win it for the third straight year and hopefully win the Federation race, too," said Maple Grove coach Marcus Clark following the Section 6 qualifier. ''She knows that is the greatest competition in that Federation race.''
With Walter looking to make her mark in Division 2, Mitch Moore will carry the hopes of Red Raiders' fans into the Division 1 400 hurdles.
Moore has responded with unbelievable resiliency in his senior season after suffering a leg injury playing soccer last November, piling up wins, records and improving on his junior campaign.
At the Erie County Interscholastic Conference championships at Strider Field, Moore ousted Jamestown's 40-year-old record in the 400-meter dash with a 48.40 while working on his conditioning for the hurdles.
That work certainly paid off as Moore broke his own track standard at Olean with a time of 54.13 for his second straight Section 6 Division 1 title in the 400 hurdles.
The win came despite Moore clearing hurdles eight and nine with the wrong lead foot, which means that there is still plenty of meat on the bone as the senior heads to Cicero.
He will look to improve on a fifth-place finish in last year's Division 1 state hurdling final (56.0).
Walter will not be the only athlete from Section 6 competing in two events this weekend. Teammate Corey Wefing will also be looking to perform well in more than one race after winning the 800 (1:53.89) and 1600 (4:23.88) in Olean with personal best times in each.
The Maple Grove senior made the bold decision to play baseball for the Red Dragons this season while pushing his skills on the track, but so far the choice has only inspired confidence.
"It was great just to have those guys with me,'' Wefing said after taking home the 1600 in Olean. ''The best thing about it was they were great teammates for baseball, but they also were really supportive in my track. The coaches and the players would always congratulate me and tell me good luck if I had a race the next day. They were very supportive of me."
Last year at the state race in Middletown, Wefing posted a 9:36.83 in the 3200 for sixth place.
Brittany Feldman of Southwestern will also have more than one event this weekend after claiming second in the Division 2 high jump in Olean (5-1) and setting a new track record in the 400 with a 58.83.
Like Walter and Moore, Feldman has overcome recent injuries while getting into winning form at the right time of the season.
At last year's state meet, Feldman was sixth in the 400 (58.52), 11th in the high jump (4-11) and 18th in the 200 (26.46).
Joining Feldman is Southwestern's Jordan Powers, who successfully defended his Division 2 400 hurdles title in Olean with a 55.11.
Powers finished sixth in last year's state final in Middletown with a time of 57.61 and is in perfect position to improve on that time after claiming another Section 6 win.
After finishing second in the Division 2 triple jump in 2013, Falconer's Mackenzie Wright is headed back to the state meet in the same event.
Wright took home the Section 6 title with a jump of 36-8.
Joining her will be teammate Josh Fisher, who took second in the 110 hurdles (15.40), this will be the junior's first trip to the NYSPHSAA meet.
Representing the Randolph Cardinals in Cicero will be Mckenna Maycock in the Division 2 pentathlon and Chris Doubek in the pole vault.
Maycock made the trip to Middletown last year to compete in the 100 and 400 hurdles, but has since focused her effort on the pentathlon, winning the Section 6 title with 3,345 points.
Teammate Chris Doubek will also return to the state meet for the second year in a row. The senior took second in Middletown in the Division 2 pole vault (14-0) and second at this year's sectional meet (14-0).
Rounding out this year's state competitors will be Josh Odell of Clymer-Sherman-Panama, who took home the 3,000 steeple chase in 10:07.19 for his first shot at a state title.
A full schedule of for this weekend's events can be found at www.nysphsaa.org/Sports/Spring/Track.aspx.