Fredonia will send two of its track and field athletes to Cicero this weekend to compete in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association's Track and Field Championships.
Senior Dylan Cassidy will represent the Hillbillies in the 400-meter hurdles while freshman Lauren Reyda will compete in both the 3,000 and 1,500.
It will be Cassidy's second consecutive trip to the State meet, finishing seventh last year in a time of :57.04.
OBSERVER?Photo by Matt Panebianco
Dylan Cassidy, left, and Lauren Reyda, will represent Fredonia High School at the NYSPHSAA’s Track and Field Championships this weekend in Cicero. Cassidy will compete in the 400-meter hurdles while Reyda will run in the 3,000 and 1,500.
"We're excited," Fredonia boys' track and field coach Bob Ball said. "The fact that he was there last year too is going to be a good experience for this year. There won't be any surprises. He knows exactly what to expect. Hopefully he can focus more on the event now and not the atmosphere."
For Cassidy and Ball, the success he had this year was of no surprise.
"We were expecting him to make it (to States)," Ball said. "We knew Daryl Spencer being in our division, from Cleveland Hill ... He's been tough and Dylan has been really close to him, but hasn't quite been able to beat him yet. But we knew he had to place in the top two to go. We knew his time was good enough to go, but he had to get that second place, which he was able to do. He took the same route last year. He took second to Daryl and he's a half second off him right now. We're hoping this time he might get (the win)."
Although Cassidy competed in other events during the season, the 400 hurdles is his bread and butter.
"This is his main event," Ball noted of Cassidy. "He's done other events during the season, but mid-season we weren't pushing the 400 hurdles too much, we were pushing other events so that he would peak at the end of the season and the last two weeks he's brought his time down to where it needs to be."
Despite his success, Cassidy still had things to work on during the week as he prepared for yet another trip to the State meet.
"We've pretty much worked on his form going over the hurdles," Ball said of what Cassidy has been doing this week to prepare for States. "The only thing that is really different is we've tried to have him pick up the pace at the beginning. We've been working on him getting off to a little bit of a quicker start and hopefully he can maintain that speed throughout the race. Hopefully he can bring (his time) down just a little bit more."
All anyone can ask of themselves is to do the best they can at the task at hand. Cassidy's thought process has been no different.
"Our goal is for him to get his best time," Ball said. "He holds the school record with last year's time at :54.94. His best time this year is 55.54. We want to come in under that time and hopefully re-break that record from last year. He's seeded tied for fifth, so he's right up there in the front and Daryl, whom he raced last week, is seeded first right now. So Dylan is right in the mix of it and our goal is to turn in the best time of his career."
Reyda may seem like your typical average high school freshman.
She likes to joke around and act like a kid.
Her performance on the track this season, however, has been nothing short of outstanding.
Reyda who advanced to the Federation meet in the fall for cross country has found a way to match that performance during the spring.
Reyda qualified for the State meet last week at the Section 6 meet held at Lewiston-Porter High School, with the results of the 1,500 coming down to a photo finish as she clipped Maple Grove's Caroline Benson by .13 seconds for first place with a time of 4:54.12.
For her performance, Reyda was named the Division 2 Female Track Athlete of the Meet. The honor is just an added bonus to the accomplishments she has already received this year. She was also named the MVP of the Dunkirk Marauder Invitational to go on top of numerous first-place finishes in dual meets this year. Section 5 also awarded her the outstanding performance for track events award at Sectionals.
"That's a tell-tale sign," Fredonia coach Mike Marshall said of how good Reyda is. "Usually at events like Sectionals, they try to give it to the upper classman because they figure the younger kids will be back. For a freshman to be named that, they felt she deserved that by winning the 3,000 and the 1,500 in the ways she won. That really tells me they really respect her as a runner and as an athlete."
Marshall noted Reyda's maturity level on the track and even though she is young, her experience has helped her. A prime example came in the 1,500 last week at the state qualifier as she ran neck and neck with Benson.
"One thing on that race is Lauren had a fairly good lead," Marshall said, describing the race. "The one thing that happened was Benson passed Lauren a little too early. You could see the change in Lauren's face when Benson passed her. The expression Lauren showed was she was not going to get beat and (Benson) gave Lauren a chance to get ahead. It was a see-saw race the rest of the way."
According to Marshall, what has made Reyda one of the more unique runners is her work ethic and her devotion to get better as a runner.
"What's nice is she is one of the few I have seen and coached out of Fredonia who has potential and continues to work to improve," he said. "A lot of athletes have potential, but since they had early success, they rely on that and never meet their full potential. It's a testament to her work ethic. She comes in as a regular ninth grader, but when we start the workouts, it's all serious. She is there for a purpose. It's not a social event for her."
Marshall and his coaching staff have set up a strategy this season with Reyda, to help her peak and have a personal best each week. The coaching staff is hoping Reyda accomplishes that this weekend.
"We tried to plan a situation where she hasn't peaked yet," Marshall said. "We hope this weekend she does peak. She knocked 10 seconds off of her personal record last weekend in the 3,000 and almost passed her personal record in the 1,500 and that was with a 15 MPH headwind. We are looking for her to improve on her personal record and not looking for state records. We are looking for her to improve every weekend she goes out. So far she hasn't disappointed us in that at all."