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Sunday, June 14, 2015: R-H soph Watson dazzles at track championships

   Leading off today: With two more years to go, it's worth starting to wonder what's really left for Sammy Watson to accomplish in high school track and field.

   The Rush-Henrietta sophomore positively dazzled over the weekend at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships at SUNY Albany. The local newspaper has taken to calling her "Wonder Woman" -- and that might be underselling her abilities after she pulled off a 400/1,500 double in Federation races. About all that went wrong for the weekend was her being unable to rally the Royal Comets' 1,600 relay to more than just a fourth-place finish.

   "Our team is successful," she told the Democrat and Chronicle after accumulating five first-place medals over the weekend. "We'll come back next week (at nationals)."

   Two of the first-place medals Saturday came from her NYSPHSAA and Federation placings in the l,500 meters. Watson made her first real move with 600 meters to the finish and kicked it up a notch early in the bell lap. She passed Union-Endicott junior Emily MacKay about 125 meters from the finish line two clock 4:25.24, crushing the Section 5 record by more than three seconds. She already owned sectional marks in the 400 and 800 outdoors.

   She covered the final 400 meters in 1:06.7 to nip MacKay (4:25.32).

   "I'm going to remember the 1,500 mostly," Watson said. "I knew I had potential, but I didn't think that I could be a state champ. It makes me believe I can accomplish more in track, maybe move up to the two-mile."

   In the 400 championship, Watson's :53.89 was well off her meet-record :52.69 from Friday but still beat Amanda Crawford of Paul Robeson (:54.72) comfortably.

   Splendid steeplechase: Given the depth of distance talent in New York, the boys steeplechase meet record of 9:07.02, which had stood since 2008, had seemed ever so slightly soft for awhile.

   It'll be awhile before anyone voices that sentiment again after what Monroe-Woodbury senior Jake Jibb did. Jibb kept all of his laps under 74 seconds, kicked home in 69 and won in 8:57.34 to knock almost 10 full seconds off the old meet record.

   It was the fastest high school time in the country this year -- No. 3 in state history -- and qualified the British citizen for the under-20 European championships in Sweden this summer. He beat Saratoga junior Aidan Tooker, ranked second nationally entering the meet, by nearly 18 seconds.

   The only time Jibb took a look back at the destruction in his wake was going into the last water pit.

   "I was like, 'Oh, my goodness, I am so happy. He is nowhere near me,'" Jibb told The Times Herald-Record. "So I am like, 'OK, what's the time?' I saw coming down (the final stretch) it was 8:52 so I was like, 'Oh (darn) ... I've got to go!'"

   He did, and so too did the meet record.

   Hey, we know that name: Westhill senior Jordan Roland was second among Division II athletes and fourth overall in the boys pentathlon. It was just the third time competing in the pentathlon for Roland, the New York State Sportswriters


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  • Association's two-time Class B player of the year in basketball.

       Roland, who'll continue his basketball career at George Washington University in the fall, finished with 3,366 points. Mike Palmer of Maine-Endwell won with 3,544 points.

       Too good to fail: A bad handoff often times is enough to relegate the field's best 400 relay to also-ran status. Newburgh Free Academy had no such issue Saturday.

       As Blaine Billings ran up on Zack Warden to hand off the stick on the first exchange, it was clear to Billings the two were not in sync. Warden was accelerating, but has hand wasn't reaching back as far as expected.

       "I actually missed," Billings said of the exchange, "and he turned around and he just took it."

       That glitch cost NFA a few ticks on the stopwatch but not the Federation title. The foursome, wrapped up by Marc Bellamour and Jahnique Dessaline, won in :41.64.

       Warden, a Syracuse track recruit, broke the school record in the 200 en route to NYSPHSAA and Federation titles.

       "It means I finally overcame my own adversity and I was able to overcome myself," Warden said.

       More from the Albany meet: has full results from the weekend.

       Hot mile from Brannigan: Northport senior Mike Brannigan ran a personal best of 4:03.18 and finished third in the Adidas Grand Prix high school mile Saturday at Icahn Stadium on Randalls Island.

       Winner Grant Fisher of Grand Blanc, Mich., one of only seven U.S. schoolboys ever to break four minutes, defended his title in 4:01.73. Andrew Hunter of Loudoun Valley, Va., was second in 4:02.36.

       "I thought I had a shot to beat Grant," Brannigan told Newsday. "He had an amazing kick with 150 meters to go. I was trying to cover that move he made and ride on his shoulder the whole way."

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