ENDICIOTT — Karlee Strong’s phone was blowing up Thursday afternoon. She heard from most of her Hudson Falls teammates wishing her luck at the state track meet. And that was before anyone knew she had made the podium.
The Hudson Falls senior just wanted to make the Division II shot put finals in her first trip to states. She did herself one better by finishing sixth to make it to the podium. Strong was one of three area athletes to place in the top six at the State Track and Field Championship.
“I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my senior year,” Strong said when her parents and coaches finally finished with photos at the podium.
Strong had the typical first-time kind of nerves, but other than that felt good going into the event. She settled in easily when she starting throwing.
Her first throw of the day was her second longest of the season and she hit a new personal best at 38 feet, 7 inches in the finals. Strong and her coaches had focused on her form and consistency in the week leading up to states and she was happy with the results.
Saratoga Springs had the other two athletes to make the podium. Kelsey Chmiel placed third in the Division II 3,000 with a time of 9:34.18. That was 16 seconds off her best, which is the fastest time in the country this season. Nicholas Cavotta finished fifth in the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 5 inches.
Saratoga’s Mimi Liebers finished second in the 100 hurdles preliminaries with a time of 14.83 seconds, earning her a spot in Friday’s final.
Schuylerville’s Ian Luhmann was five-hundredths of a second off advancing to the finals in the 200-meter dash. When he heard his time of 22.83 seconds (short of the school record he was aiming for), he looked at his parents and said “man, I thought I was going fast.”
He was off his best performance in the 100, finishing ninth with a time of 11.55, and said he felt the headwind. Luhmann already has the school record in that event at 11.10 seconds.
“With sprinting, I feel like you have one shot,” he said. “Sometimes, your legs are like ‘it’s just not going to happen’ and other times it will. It’s hard to come back in sprinting.”
Queensbury’s Izzy Dennison was also aiming for a school record in the 400-meter dash. She came up a few tenths of a second short, but hit a personal best of 58.7 seconds, finishing 16th in the Division I race.
“It’s a hard race,” she said. “There are a lot of fast people here.”
Dennison had to change her warmup routine a bit to follow the regimented setup of the tightly-run state meet. Coach Pete Crotty pointed out you can’t ask much more than a best time at the state meet.
Glens Falls’ Chris Hughes wasn’t happy with his run. The junior knew he didn’t have it from the start. He fell behind the pack and couldn’t pick it up. Hughes finished ninth in the Division II 3,000 with a time of 10:04.07, 48 seconds off his time at last year’s state meet.
“Training-wise, this season just wasn’t my best,” he said. “It just hasn’t gone that well. We did a lot of races early. Training hard wasn’t helping me improve but when we took it easy, that didn’t help either.”
Saratoga’s Shea Weilbaker finished 8th in the Division I portion of the 3,000 with a time of 9:27.48. The Saratoga 400 relay team of Tom Bradley, Nicholas Cavotta, Kirk Francis and Charlie Liebers) finished ninth with a time of 42.71 seconds.
Ticonderoga senior Delaney Hughes was 16th in the Division II 400 with a time of 1:01.81.
The meet continues on Friday.