Section VI indoor track wrap-up

Jason Kincaid, Sports editor

This past week the Orchard Park indoor track team competed in two championship meets. The first was the Team Championship, which was followed by the State Qualifier meet a few days later. The boys’ team saw solid contribution from all aspects of the meet, leading to a third-place finish at the Team Championship behind Hutch-Tech and Lancaster. They were missing Maroon Key winner and major point scorer Nino Rivera, who would’ve been able to surpass the four point gap with Hutch-Tech. David Cappello continued his impressive season, finishing ninth overall on the 300 meter dash, and top five in Class A with a time of 37.66. Only one spot in Class A behind David was his teammate Isaac Johnson, who provided the team more points with his time of 38.28. Johnson and Cappello both returned for the 4×4 relay with Declan Watson and Tino Mancabelli. Johnson was the leadoff runner, and his aggressive start gave them the early lead. Cappello was able to hold the lead, and Watson ran his season best, which gave Mancabelli a lead going into the last leg. Tino held off a charging Dunkirk runner, and the boys won by a narrow six-hundredths of a second. The boys 4×2 had an impressive top 5 class A finish with runners Jack Keane, Jack Kane, Jake Janus, and once again David Cappello. On the distance side Coach Lardo made the decision to stack the 1600 meter run with top runners Jack Heraty and Chris Bertola. The move paid off as Heraty finished third and Bertola finished fifth. Moving on to the 1000 meter run, junior Jason Kincaid outran his projected finish place, taking sixth in Class A, which gave the team some surprise points in an event they were not expected to score in. These three athletes came back in the 4×8 relay, and,  along with junior Noah Sayoc, took a third-place class A finish. Kegan Mancabelli took a second place finish in the pole vault with an impressive height of 13’00”. Not to be outdone, the girls’ team are now Section VI Class A champions for the first time since 2007. With one of the deepest sprinting squads in the state, three girls ran in the finals of the 55 dash, scoring a lot of team points. Jenna Crean, Leah Pasqualetti, and Sara Puskar all showed off their speed in that event. Later in the meet, Puskar proved to be dominant in the long jump, winning by a whole foot. Pasqualetti and Crean ran the 4×2 as well as Genevieve Arnold and Trinity Tartaro.  They finished second behind a stacked Tapestry Charter team. Leah Pasqualetti vaulted her way into a win by clearing 12’06”, nearly matching a personal best. Trinity Tartaro finished third in the high jump, and Genevieve Arnold made the finals for the 55 hurdles, rounding out a busy day for the sprinters. Marin Bogulski ran the 1000, where she finished second in a competitive race with freshman phenom Megan Mclaughlin from East Aurora. Cait O’Rourke finished off the meet with a personal best in the 1500 and a fifth place finish.

Orchard Park later lived up to the name of the state qualifiers’ meet days later by having many athletes become state qualifiers. Nino Rivera was back and showed the other teams why they were lucky he was not at Team Championships. He ran the 55, where the finished third,  and competed in the long jump, where the finished second, qualifying for States in both events. While normally only the top two in an event qualify, Rivera’s time still hit the state standard, earning him a States spot. Chris Bertola ran the 1600 again and finished fourth. Armani Merlino of Lancaster scratched his spot after the race, making Chris third, and Chris is now going to States as a member of the intersectional DMR. That relay consists of the third-place finishers in the 300, 600, 1000, and 1600. Marin Bogulski earned her spot at states with a second place finish in the 1000 and a third-place finish in the 1500. She is going to run both the 1000 and DMR at States. The girls’ 4×2 won a competitive race against Tapestry Charter, getting them into the state meet as a team. The members of this relay were Jenna Crean, Leah Pasqualetti, Sara Puskar, and Genevieve Arnold. Along with the relay, Crean also qualified in the 55 and 300. Pasqualetti qualified with a second place pole vault finish, and Puskar won long jump by a whole foot once again.

The boys’ 4×4 was the race to watch as the Orchard Park team was looking to repeat their performance at the Team Championships against Allegany Limestone. Sadly in a controversial race, Allegany won by .01 seconds to take the States spot. Despite a video being shown of a coach walking onto the track, interfering with Declan Watson’s leg, the officials were not able to overturn the decision.