NY State Champs: Johnson City

By Christopher Hunt 
photos by Tim Fulton

NORTH SYRACUSE – Jeff Martinez said himself that he just knew Marcellus senior Chris Stogsdill had it. Then the Johnson City senior watched while Stogsdill jetted away from the field and started a time trial in a quest to break nine minutes for 3,200 meters while the rest of the field was supposed to figure out who wanted second place.


But while Stogsdill chased a time, the gap behind slowly began to close. Stogsdill started to labor and with 500 to go he peaked over his shoulder. They were coming.


Martinez inched closer with Arlington’s John Muller in tow at Richard J. Nastasi Complex at Cicero-North Syracuse. Stogsdill kept deteriorating until he imploded on the back stretch and Martinez flew by before Stogsdill realized that the field decided to make it a race.


“That just gave me extreme momentum,” said Martinez, who upset Stogsdill and shocked everyone winning the 3,200 in a Section 4 record 8:57.60 at the New York State championships Friday. “To break 9 and win a state championship in the last race of my senior year – this is the best feeling you could ever have.”


For most of the race, Martinez, who is headed to Binghamton University, led a chase pack that stayed at least 25 meters behind Stogsdill, who went through the first lap in 63.83. Stogsdill still carried a 7-second lead into the last lap. But Martinez closed in 61.38. Muller finished second in 9:00.60 with Scott Anderson third overall (first in Division II) in 9:03.91 and Stogsdill dropped the fourth in 9:08.84.


“I knew what I came out here to do and I tried to do it,” Stogsdill said. “I’m a little disappointed but I gave it what I had. I don’t know if I went out too hard or it just wasn’t my day. But right around the fifth or sixth lap I felt like I hit a wall. I tried to get it back together but it wasn’t there.”


Will Cole’s race didn’t provide the same drama but whatever the race lacked, the Hamburg senior provided enough excitement with his performance to stir the same type of reaction from the crowd.  Cole lowered his own Section 6 record, winning the 400 hurdles in 52.69, the sixth-fastest time in the country this season.


“With 150 to go, I just started sprinting,” Cole said. “That’s when my lungs started getting tight and my feet got really hot. I wanted to hurry up and finish so I could take (my shoes) off.”


Cole spent most of his scholastic career looking to dip under 53 seconds. He admitted that the chase became frustrating at times.  But it takes all the pressure off for today’s federation championship final.


“It doesn’t matter what happens tomorrow,” he said. “I mean, I’m still going to do my best but I’m just happy right now. I feel relieved now, even if the worse thing happens tomorrow.”


The Division I 4x400 though, was definitely among the more exciting races of the afternoon. Edison Tech led through three legs, in an event where Fordham Prep, Ramapo, Boys & Girls and Newburgh were given top-billing. But then Ramapo’s Mike Abelard erased the gap he set up a perfect scenario for anchor Chidi Ezemma.


Ezemma took over on the back straightaway and looked to be in control until Newburgh Randy Patterson torn through the first 200 meters and the three teams went three-abreast in the home stretch with Ezemma slightly behind.


“At first I tried to go in between them but that didn’t work,” Ezemma said. “Once I saw Newburgh was there I figured that if he had more then I did too. It was really all adrenaline.”


They’ll all have a rematch in the federation final. There were a number of runners looking forward to tomorrow when the federation titles are on the line.


Great Neck South’s Terrance Livingston won a Division I 800 meters, one of the most talked about races of the meet. Livingston led from the start and won in 1:52.64. Pine Bush senior Zavior Brown, his top competition, didn’t make his presence felt in the race until 200 meters left when it scurried to Livingston’s shoulder which prompted Livingston to switch gears and pull away. Iona Prep’s Sean Halpin said he felt sick before the race and never pulled up with the leaders. Brown finished second in 1:53.13 with Tyler Stewart of Colonie third in 1:54.86.


“My plan was to see how I feel and run hard on both days,” said the Tennessee-bound Livingston. “Tomorrow I have to put my heart on the track and I hope that Zavior and everybody else does the same.”


Livingston and Brown have both said they want to break 1:50. Livingston said he isn’t sitting with a tactical race in the final.


“I’m a racer,” he said. “I’m not the type to go out and run equal splits and run a certain time. I race to win. But if you see me come around tomorrow in 1:20 (at the 600) expect a state record.”


Marcellus junior Mike Querica dominated the Division II 400 meters in 47.86, by far the fastest-time of both divisions and will be the heavy favorite for the federation championship.  Jonathan Santana of Edison Tech won the Division I race in 49.02. Querica though, said he still has more to give.


“This is awesome,” Querica said. “I kind of expected the competition to be more than what it was. I felt really good. I feel like I have a lot more in me.”


Riverhead’s Mike Smith will also be the favorite for the federation shot put final. Smith set a three-foot personal best to win the Division I event in 57 feet, 0.75 inches. The junior made his name as a surprise state champ indoors.


“After throwing in the warm-ups, I knew something was going to happen,” he said. “I felt like I had it.”


He said he was tossing farther than eve in his warm-up session and once he popped the winning throw, he knew he had won gold.


“I didn’t even look at it,” he said.



Cleveland Hill, NY - 4x100m Division 2 Champs


Edison Tech, NY - 4x100m Relay Division 1 Champs


Bainbridge-Guildford-Afton, NY - 4x400m Division 2 State Champs