Story by Mike Potter
It was a gorgeous day at Middletown High School’s Fuller Field which played host to the New York State Track & Field Championships on Fri., Jun. 7 and the stage was set for New York’s best athletes to compete in many events for the coveted spot on the awards podium. Members of the Warwick Valley boys’ and girls’ teams were up to the challenge, competing in the girls’ 4×400 relay, the girls’ pole vault, the boys’ 3,200 meter, the boys’ 1,600 meter run, and the girls’ 1,500 meter run.
Gold on the Track
The girls’ 4×4 team was seeded as the second best public school in the state entering the event, but that is why they run the races. Leadoff leg, sophomore Jade Liguori, starting in lane 3, was down early but started making up ground on teams in the final homestretch with a fabulous run that put the team in a great position as she handed off the baton to All-State sophomore Kristin Thompson. Thompson did what she does best and blazed through the pack, passing three runners to hand off in fourth place to junior teammate, Caroline Fatta. Fatta who has been rock solid and consistent all season long, was no different as she set a personal best with a carry of 58.81 as she caught the lead pack, letting them take her around the oval before kicking home on the final 100 meters, handing off in the lead for sophomore Katherine Smith. Smith received the baton with a half step lead over five teams and took out the first half of the race in modest pace, letting the teams challenge until 150 meters remained before turning on the burners. Smith charged across the finish tape in a school record carry time of 55.72 and just like that the underdog Lady Wildcats were State Champions in a time of 3:52.73, marking the second State Championship in school history on the girls side.
Gold in The Field
Kaeli Thompson is State Champion! The Warwick Valley senior, who is heading to Duke University next fall on an athletic scholarship, was all business as the selfless pole vaulter warmed up on the runway watching her fellow teammates run past her as she jumped up and down cheering for the girls’ 4×4 team winning a State Title. Kaeli knew her moment to shine was about to come. After being upset at the Indoor State Championship, Kaeli was more focused than ever, letting all her hard work training at the Flying Circus Pole Vault Barn take over. Kaeli had to battle defending champion Leah Pasqualetti from Orchard Park to the 13′ mark. Kaeli had first digs at the height as one of the only two competitors remaining. Kaeli grabbed her Essx pole, clearing on her first attempt to put the pressure on Leah to clear the height. Leah, who had three great attempts, was out of the competition with a 12’6″ as Kaeli stood taller and prouder than ever, knowing she just became a State Champion, the only honor that the National Champion, All-American, County Champion, and Section Champion has eluded her.
Behailu Goes Big in 3,200 Meter Run
Junior All-State X-Country runner Behailu Bekele-Arcuri went out hard and on a mission challenging leaders in the 3,200 meter run right from the gun. Behailu raced through the half way point of the race in 4:32, even with the front pack. Behailu, who ran his best track race ever, set a personal best by eight seconds to run a 9:15.31, good enough to take home a fifth place Public Championship Medal and an eighth place Federation Medal. With Behailu’s finishing time he has now set himself up to compete in the National Championships on Jun. 14 to 17 at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, NC in the 5,000 meter and two-mile races. With Behailu’s medal at the New York State Championships, this marks the 21st year in a row that the Warwick boys’ track and field team has come home with at least one medal from the State Championships, the longest streak in the state on the boys’ side in all of New York.