CICERO - OFA junior Alex Wood was among a handful of north country athletes to produce fifth-place finishes on the first day of the New York State outdoor track and field championship meet.
It was hot and muggy at Cicero-North Syracuse High School on Friday, which may have slowed some competitors.
Wood was fifth in the Division II 800 in 1:56.95. Malones Harvey Smith repeated as medalist in the boys Division I 400, earning fifth place in 49.16 seconds. Teammate Conor Gordon finished fifth in the Division I 3,200 in 9 minutes, 27.54 seconds.
Watertowns Andrew Russell was fifth in Division I discus at 149 feet-6 inches and Indian Rivers Rayshan Clark was fifth in the Division I long jump at 22-11 1/2.
Smith earned his fifth-place finished from a slower heat, which he thinks may have affected his time.
It wasnt bad, Smith said. I can probably go another half-a-second faster than I did. If I would have had someone in front of me going faster I could have kept with them. But I still kind of died in the last 100 (meters).
(The weather) was suffocating you. The back stretch had so much wind.
Smith, a junior, was in his first year of track and field last year when he medaled in the state meet in the 400.
Last year it was random coming here and doing something good, Smith said. This year I was kind of expected too. I got kind of cocky after I came here (last year). I didnt work extremely hard in the offseason. I could have done more, but I didnt. Everyones in trouble next year because Im going to work hard. Im coming back and running 47 (seconds) next year.
Smith may not have progressed as much as he hoped, but he did break Cincinnati Bengals running back Brian Leonards Section 10 record in the 200-meters last week with a time of 22.15 seconds.
Leonard, a former Gouverneur standout, found out his record was broken and sent Smith an autographed Bengals mini-helmet and has also been mentoring the Husky junior via email.
Brian Leonard gave me a quote that work beats talent when talent doesnt work hard, Smith said. Thats what happened this year. I improved, but I could have improved more. Im just going to work really hard.
While Pastor and Smith came to the state meet expecting to do well, OFAs Alex Wood was caught off guard by his performance.
Wood always runs full bore and last week he collapsed on the track when he finished winning the Section 10 championship in the 800.
I put in 110-percent and hope to God I dont drop before the end, Wood said of his racing style.
The 800 featured a mixed field of Division I and II runners, so Wood had no idea when he crossed the finish line Friday how well he had performed or that he had earned a medal to drape around his neck.
It was a very pleasant surprise, Wood said. When I made my move at the last lap I kind of felt good. I crawled over (after the race) to the side and was pretty much dying and one of my teammates came up and told me. It was awesome. It felt great. Words cant describe how awesome it feels right now.
One other local athlete may not have earned a medal Friday, but has put herself in position for a medal.
Altmar-Parish-Williamstowns Kylee Bartlett is in fourth place among Division II athletes in the girls pentathlon after three of five events. Bartlett has 1,814 points. Atticas Emily Ziegler is directly ahead of her with 1,845 and Cazenovias Paige Biviano leads with 2,018.
South Jefferson freshman Skylar Pastor did not repeat as state Division II champion in the girls 400-meter run but did earn a second-place finish and ran her best time of the season, 57.0, marking the top finish of the day by any area athlete on Friday.
I tried my hardest, thats all that matters, Pastor said. Im just happy I made it to states.