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track IMG 5792Photo by Becca Lovenheim

11 Lansing Girls Compete at 2018 NYSPHSAA Track & Field Championships

The bus pulled out early on Friday morning, loaded with eleven girls and their coaches. En route to the 2018 NYSPHSAA Track & Field Championships at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, the girls were in high spirits, with music playing and hair being braided as is customary before each meet. But there was no denying that this meet was different – New York is one of the most competitive states for track and field in the nation, and the Ladycats had their sights set on strong performances in what they knew would be a fiercely competitive landscape.

track MG 4x8 states 2Photo by NYSPHSAA

Tri-captain Meghan Matheny '18 entered the meet as the top Division II seed. Her teammate, tri-captain Miya Kuramoto '18, has been to the championships before – in fact, this was Miya's sixth trip to a state competition for pole vault, three during the indoor seasons and three in outdoor – and had finished as runner-up the year prior to teammate Emily Gallagher '17. Matheny made her first trip to a state pole vaulting competition this past winter, placing 5th, and now was taking on her first outdoor state meet. This isn't to say that Matheny hasn't continually been highly ranked; the NYSPHSAA rules currently limit each section to a maximum of two competitors per division per event – and Matheny had been Lansing's third vaulter. So despite being one of the best in the state, she did not compete in previous years. All this is to say that this was Matheny's opportunity to prove herself, to show that all of the patience and hard work could pay off. She seized the opportunity, vaulting 12'0" to a state championship title, made sweeter by having Kuramoto next to her on the podium in second place with a vault of 11'0".

track CE 1500 statesPhoto by NYSPHSAA

Sophomore Catie Eisenhut was undefeated in the 1500m through the Section IV Class C Championship. Last year, she placed 4th at the state meet in a new school record time. This year, she improved upon that record three times before the state meet. Her strength in the event was apparent all season, and she knew it would take another big performance to reach the podium again. She put forth a tremendous effort, dropping her personal best by over three seconds and running 5 seconds faster this year than at last year's state championships and setting a new school record in the 1500m of 4:40.08. It's a testament to the strength of the mid-distance and distance field in NY girls track and field that this time earned Eisenhut 7th place, just off the podium by a fraction of a second. The bar is currently being set by the nation's top distance runner, North Rockland's Katelyn Tuohy who set a new national sophomore record in the 3000m and a new meet record in the 1500m at this year's championships.

Eisenhut also ran the anchor legs of both the 4x400 and 4x800 for Lansing. Both teams are young, and the experience of earning entry to these championships and then representing the section was savored by all of these athletes, most of whom are not yet graduating and hope to return in coming years. The 4x800 relay of tri-captain Mikaela Garcia '18, Kinsley Jacobs '23, Emmaline Jackson '21, and Eisenhut with alternates Teresa Garcia '20 and Leigh Miller '18 ran true to their seed time, placing 10th in Division II. The 4x400 relay of Catalina Zaloj '20, Destiny Little '19, T. Garcia, and Eisenhut with alternates M. Garcia and Hana Thibault '21 placed 13th in Division II.

track MM PV states 2Photo by NYSPHSAA

Zaloj ran that lead leg after competing in her first NYSPHSAA competition, starting Day 2 with the high jump. Section IV was home to several strong high jumpers this season, some of whom would take their talents to compete in the pentathlon and others who would vie for the individual entry to states. Zaloj found her rhythm in the event this season, finding the top of the podium at crucial meets, and she remained composed and ready for competition even at C-NS where the starting height was 5'0", several inches higher than typical sectional competition. She would finish 11th in Division II.

As the season came to a close, several members of the program were recognized for their achievements. ESPN Ithaca named Matheny the Girls Indoor Track Athlete of the Year and Coach Matt Scheffler was named the Indoor Girls Track Coach of the Year. M. Garcia was named Girls Cross Country Athlete of the Year and Coach Becca Lovenheim was named Girls Outdoor Track Coach of the Year. Matheny and Zaloj also were recognized as two of the radio station's Fueling Excellence Athletes, and Matheny was Lansing's Female Athlete of the Year.

track IMG 5774Photo by Becca Lovenheim

The program will bid a fond farewell to its graduating seniors, but they are also looking to the future. The team will host a water stop on Saturday for the Gorges Half Marathon, helping with the local race and also giving high school athletes a glimpse at an opportunity for their own running beyond high school. And the varsity athletes are showing up to help with the Lansing Recreation Department's new youth track club, the Lansing Lightning. With over 30 local children, ages 4-14, showing up for the first session, the team is keeping its sights set on a bright future.

Full results of the NYSPHSAA Track and Field Championships can be found here.

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