CORNING - In what was tabbed as a “rebuilding” year for the Corning Hawks indoor track program after losing Division I talent and nine total state competitors from last year, the team will have 26 representatives at the state meet Saturday at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island in 10 events.
“We definitely entered this season thinking that we were in a rebuild, but we rebuild pretty fast,” said Corning head coach Andrew Cartwright. “To get 26 kids into the state meet -- it might be normal for us, but it’s not normal for a lot of people. We hope to make the most of it this weekend. We still think our best race of the season is this weekend.”
According to seedings based on performance from the regular season, Corning is only projected to finish top-10, and earn a state medal, in the 1,500 meter racewalk. In the racewalk, Angelea Collins is seeded seventh, Rachel Rebis is seeded 11th and Abby Perry is tabbed to finish 16th.
While on the outside looking in on other events, the Hawks are looking to come home with state medals by dropping times by miniscule amounts. For example Corning’s 4x400 girls relay is seeded 14th, four seconds away from medal contention and the boys 4x400 relay is seeded 16th, two seconds away from medal contention.
Individual wise, Charlotte Nevins is seeded 25th, but only just above a second away from medal contention while Jayla Skeete is seeded outside the top-10 but only a second and a half away from medal contention.
“We think that if they can make the improvements that they’re capable of, on the right day, we’ll have a good shot,” said Cartwright. “They’re right on the edge. I think we have enough kids on the edge, that I’m hopeful a couple will get it done.”
Also for Corning, Claire Mason and Faithe Ketchum are running in the 1,500 meter and Ashton Bange will be competing in the 1,600 meter run.
While the Hawks might not have the star power of a top-seeded Lindsey Butler or Jessica Lawson, it has a group that is still competitive within the state.
Kyle Zaidel, part of the boys 4x400 relay that also includes Otto Sutton, Harrison Lynch and Clayton Vaughn, is looking for redemption in the relay after missing out on a medal last year finishing 19th, but only four seconds away from medal contention with the same relay.
The experience could help the relay capture the elusive medal this time around.
“We’ve kind of developed a bond between the four of us,” said Zaidel. “It really helps knowing what we can do and we can balance our strengths and weaknesses. We’ve improved a lot since last year.”
Zaidel will also compete in the 300 meter dash individually where he is seeded 29th, but only a second away from medal contention.
Skeete is tabbed to compete in three events, the 600 meter run, the 4x800 meter relay along with Ketchum, Lydia Keys and Chloe Freeland as well as the 4x400 meter run.
Lindsey Butler won the 600 meter run for the Hawks last year while Skeete finished 23rd, so she is looking to improve on that mark with a little bit of added pressure.
“I’d really like to medal this year,” said Skeete. “It’s definitely a big possibility for me. There’s definitely a little pressure with that, but trying to run as best as I can and represent Corning as well as I can and myself personally. As long as I do what I’ve been training to do, I think it will work out.”
A huge goal for Skeete and the 4x400 meter relay is to place top-10 and medal.
“We’ve really been working toward that all season,” said Skeete.
At the end of the day, Corning wants to come home with some hardware after earning six state medals last year but will be satisfied running its best races at the state meet.
“We always want to come home with some hardware,” said Cartwright. “We want our kids to have their best race at states. If they do that, they can’t be upset.”
Running starts at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday. Check Saturday’s edition of The Leader for a full list of times and participants at the state meet.