Area athletes to compete at state meet

Broadalbin-Perth’s Sean Meher reaches for extra distance after taking off from the board to win the triple jump at the Section II state meet qualifiers on May 30 at Shenendehowa High School. (The Leader-Herald/james A. Ellis)

MIDDLETOWN — The area will be well represented at New York State Public High School Athletic Association Track and Field Championships today and Saturday at Middletown High School.

A total of nine area athletes will be in action this weekend.

Amsterdam’s Gabby Stanavich and Lauren Santiago; Broadalbin-Perth’s Niko Mancini, Sean Meher and John Coddington; Canajoharie’s Marcus Johnson and Andrew Ferguson; Johnstown’s Sebastian Mills; and Mayfield-Northville’s Madison Relyea.

The group features a mix of those with returning state-meet experience and those who are making their first trip. That goes for the coaches as well.

“This is my first time going to the state meet with an athlete since I have been the track coach. My predecessor, Brian Moore, has told me about what to expect,” Mayfield-Northville coach Jon Caraco said. ‘For the program as a whole, it confirms that some of the hard work that we have done for the past three years has been worth it. I hope that it builds a little enthusiasm around the sport at Mayfield-Northville and that we continue to grow as a program.”

Stanavich will compete in the Division I (large-school) 100-meter hurdles and 400-meter hurdles, while Santiago, a senior, qualified in the 400-meter dash.

Both qualified for the state meet last year and both earned podium finishes and both also qualified for the state indoor track meet this winter.

“Since both Gabby and Lauren competed and won medals at the states last year that is our expectation. We would like to be higher on the podium,” Amsterdam coach Stu Palczak said. “Success would be reaching our goals. Even if we do not quite reach our goals, we will be proud of our commitment and tenacity.”

Stanavich, a senior, was fifth overall and third among NYSPHSAA competitors in the Division 1 (large-school) 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.79 seconds at last year’s state meet at Cicero-North Syracuse. while Santiago placed sixth in the Federation 400 meters with a time of 58.54 seconds.

Santiago won the 400 at the Section II Group I Championships, while Stanavich won the 100-meter hurdles and was third in the 400 hurdles.

At last week’s Section II State Qualifier at Shenendehowa High School, Stanavich won the 400 hurdles with a time of 1:05.0.

Santiago will be making her second-straight state meet appearance in the Division 1 400 meters after winning at the State Qualifier with a time of 57.12 seconds.

Stanavich is seeded sixth in both the 100-meter hurdles and 400-meter hurdles heading into this weekend’s meet, while Santiago is seeded sixth in the 400 meters.

At the state indoor meet, Santiago was 11th overall with the 300 meters with a time of 40.44 seconds, while Stanavich was 14th overall in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.72 seconds.

“The entire Amsterdam school community is proud of our program and kids going to the states,” Palczak said. “We celebrate these achievements that set the standard for future athletes. We are even prouder of the hard work and sportsmanship displayed by the girls.”

Relyea, a sophomore, will compete in the Division II (small-school) 1,500 meters, while Mills, a senior, will be part of the Division II 3,000-meter steeplechase.

“Sebastian sets a goal and gives 100 percent to achieve it. If he doesn’t, as soon as he’s off the track, he knows what went wrong,” Johnstown coach Melissa Kaszuba said. “As a coaching staff, we first and foremost want him to have fun and enjoy the experience as this is his first time competing at the State Meet for track. We know he will be competitive.”

Relyea will be making her third trip to states this year, having competed in the state cross country and nordic ski meets. Mills also competed at states in cross country last fall.

“I think the meet will be a successful meet if Maddi and I come away having learned something to bring back to the program,” Caraco said. “Maddi is a strong enough athlete that she has participated in multiple state and national competitions, so she will be aware of the type of competition she will see. We will both try to learn something from the experience of being surrounded by so many athletes and coaches.

It will be both Relyea’s and Mills’ first trip to the state track meet.

Mills won the 3,000-meter steeplechase in Division II (small-school) with a time of 10:10.15 at the State Qualifier, while Relyea, a sophomore, won the 1,500 meters with a school-record time of 4:45.02.

Relyea is seeded 14th overall in the 1,500 and fifth among Division II competitors, while Mills is seeded 28th overall and 11th among Division II runners.

“We are already proud of [Sebastian’s] accomplishments and how far he has grown since seventh-grade year. Representing Johnstown at this level is already considered a success in our eyes,” Kaszuba said. “It would be nice for Sebastian to hit another PR in this race. He dropped 20 seconds in his 2-mile at state qualifiers, turned around the next day to PR and qualify in steeple. I believe that he still has a lot left to leave out on the track.”

Broadalbin-Perth will have Mancini (pentathlon), Meher (triple jump) and Coddington (shot put) competing in the Division II meet

“We are hoping to see all three boys on the podium. They have worked so hard for us for the past four to six years and it would be nice to see them rewarded for their time and effort,” Broadalbin-Perth coach Jeff Richards said. “Regardless, we will be proud of them and hope that in the end they truly just enjoy their final meet as a Broadalbin-Perth athlete.”

The B-P trio helped the Patriots win the team title at the Section II Group 3 title for a second straight year.

Meher, a senior, will be making his second straight trip to states to compete in the triple jump, having placed sixth in Division II as a junior with a leap of 45-3.

Meher won the Division II title at the State Qualifier with a leap of 45-3. He also qualified for the state meet in indoor track this winter, placing 12th in the long jump with a leap of 21-1 and 18th in the high jump with a height of 6-0.

Mancini, a senior, won the Division II pentathlon at the State Qualifier with a total of 3,100 points, while Coddington, a senior, was second in the Division II shot put with a throw of 49-9 1/2. Coddington met the Super qualifying distance at the Section II Group 3 Championships with a throw of 51-11.

Both Coddington and Mancini will be competing for the first time at the state meet.

Mancini is seeded 12th overall and seventh in Division II, Coddington is seeded eighth in Division II and Meher is seeded sixth in Division II.

“We have been very fortunate to have many athletes qualify for the state meet over the past 20 years but it never gets old. Sean, John, and Nico particularly deserve this for all they have done for this program over the years. They have sacrificed so much for this team and really have elevated us to new levels during the past two years,” Richards said. “They led us to two consecutive Foothills and sectional titles by sacrificing individual goals for the good of the team. Each could have done one or two events and won individual titles with new personal best, but instead they competed in three or four events to ensure our team’s success. Now they get to reward themselves. I truly think that now that they can focus on only one event, they will each hit new personal best and rise above their seeds.”

Canajoharie’s Johnson and Ferguson both qualified for the Division II 400-meter hurdles. It will be the first trip to states for the pair, who are both juniors.

“We are extremely proud of Marcus and Andrew. Their hard work paired with the direction from our assistant coach Ken Sullivan Jr. has proven to be a difference maker in their performances this season, they both have already exceeded the expectations we had for them,” Canajoharie coach Kevin Stuttle said. “Both guys have looked great at practice this week and seem to be on the verge of a big day. They are both looking to PR and as a coaching staff (Ellee Miller, Sullivan, and myself), it is great to see kids in the meet as Juniors to get the experience of a meet like this. Our message to every athlete on our teams has been to go out and try and PR every meet. The results will take of themselves from there, whether it ends in a medal or not. All that we as coaches and Marcus and Andrew as athletes can do is go out and take care of business.”

Johnson is seeded sixth in Division II, while Ferguson is seeded 15th.

Ferguson won the 400-meter hurdles at the State qualifier with a time of 58.98 seconds, while Johnson was third with a time of 59.42 seconds,

“Marcus and Andrew have been like brothers since they were in middle school. They compete in the same events (hurdles and triple jump), same sports (football and basketball), and have pushed each other to be better each season. It means a lot to us as coaches but even more to these guys to be competing at this meet with each other,” Stuttle said. “Coming from the smallest group of Section 2, we understand that the road to this meet is extremely challenging. Each year we have qualifiers in this meet is validation to our athletes that their hard work, persistence, and commitment to the program, their teammates, and themselves leads to extraordinary results. The success of our student-athletes is something that the Canajoharie school and community should be proud of.”

The meet is slated to begin at 11 a.m. today and continue at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

For a full schedule of events, visit

By Paul Wager

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