On to the State Finals!
Petrella, Rey, Brown and Decker all qualify for cross country state meet
BEMUS POINT — Four local runners — Dunkirk’s Jericha Petrella, Silver Creek’s Ellie Decker, and the Fredonia duo of Emily Brown and Diego Rey — all earned a trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships next Saturday at Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island after their performances at the Section VI championships held at Bemus Point Golf Club on Friday.
Dunkirk’s Petrella qualified for her first state meet after finishing ninth overall in the Class B race with a time of 21:07.98.
“I knew who I had to catch,” said Petrella after finishing in the final state-qualifying position. ” … I prayed the whole race and I just told myself that I could do it.”
Joining Petrella as individual qualifiers in Class B were Kayla Schmidt of Williamsville South, Heather Bugenhagen of Starpoint, Marisa Swiatek of Williamsville East and Nicole Kuehner of Iroquois.
East Aurora won the Class B team title with 24 points as Megan McLaughlin took first, Karis Ertel took second, Ava Danieu took sixth, Geneva Green took seventh and Samantha Hulme took 10th.
Petrella’s Dunkirk teammates — Sierra Jacques, Gabby Hart and Yuribeth Castro — all ran the last race of their season coming, in 20th, 65th and 76th, respectively.
“I’m proud of all those girls and the season they had,” said Dunkirk coach Adam Woelfle.
In Class C, Fredonia’s Brown took second in 20:10.20, only 14.16 seconds behind winner Kimberly Goerss of Newfane, to advance to her third straight state meet.
“It’s OK. It’s not really what I was hoping for, but survive and advance. I’ll have another opportunity next week,” Brown said. “My goal has always been to improve from year to year. I’ve always just wanted to step up from year to year. I wasn’t in the position that I wanted to be in. … In the beginning of the race I was settling, but I kind of got angry at myself in the last half-mile.”
Silver Creek’s Ellie Decker also qualified for the state meet with a sixth-place finish in 20:42.31.
“I’ve always been a believer that this area has quality runners and quality coaching with a lot of experience,” said Silver Creek coach Mike Janisch.
The Black Knights won the Class C-2 crown, but only the Class C overall winner, Newfane with 71 points, advanced to the state meet. Still, Janisch was proud to accomplish one of the goals he had coming in to the meet.
“That was one of the goals and I was exceedingly happy we reached that goal,” said Janisch.
Juliana Flick just missed a chance at qualifying for states, as well, with an 11th place finish in 21:21. Daisy League was 14th in 21:25, while Melanie Wilson was 25th at 21:51. Lily League (23:02), Julia Kennedy (23:17) and Emma Romanik (23:48) capped off the Black Knights’ sectional title team.
Silver Creek’s three boys runners all finished with respectable times. Gabe Rhodes finished 43rd with a time of 19:09, while Riley Wilson– running in his final race at Silver Creek — finished in the top 50, as well, with a time of 19:19. Josh Bunnell placed 90th with a time of 20:54.
Fredonia’s Rey qualified for his second state meet with a time of 17:21.34 to take fourth place in Class C.
“It’s just a huge relief. The week leading up to sectionals is always so stressful. The field is so deep. … I was shooting to win, and I knew that was possible, but I also knew it was a possibility that I wouldn’t go,” Rey said. “This definitely felt like the most competitive race. Part of it is the competition and the other is just how much is on the line.”
Newfane won a hotly contested Class C team title with 66 points, based on first-place finisher Austin Burkard, 12th-place Nick Baes, 14th-place Robert Stevenson, 19th-place Alan Lingle and 20th-place Nathan Moran.
Southwestern’s Dagon Bryant just missed qualifying for states with his eighth-place finish in Class C, but did help the Trojans win the Class C-2 title. Joining Rey at states will be Alden’s Kyle Urban (second), Alden’s Bobby Adams (third), Depew’s Dean Godios (fifth) and Wilson’s William Schwarzmueller (sixth).
OBSERVER Sports Editor Braden Carmen contributed to this report.