Ogdensburg: On an absolutely perfect evening on and around the eight lane track at Ogdensburg Free Academy, the Section X ,Van Dusen Championships were held in front of a capacity crowd. It was clear from the start that this would be no ordinary event. The energy from those in attendance was almost like they had never been to a track meet of this magnitude before. The simple truth is…. many of them had not been to an athletic event for well over a year. There was an obvious attempt to make up for lost time as the outpouring of enthusiasm was pandemic level infectious.
The many athletes from Canton Central achieved countless personal bests and also brought home plenty of hardware. Although the boys team was outscored by the Potsdam Sandstoners for the team title, the two teams flexed their muscle on the remaining teams in the section. Potsdam outpaced the field 166.50 to Canton’s 144.50. The remaining 9 teams shared the remaining 355 points.
The Canton girls made an impact of their own. The small team ended up in sixth place in team scoring with only five competitors qualifying. Claire Craig lead the way for the girls with a season’s best time in the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 17.71. The individual Section X Champion also took fourth place honors in the long jump, jumping 14’2″ . Caroline Hines achieved a personal best of 29’0″ in the triple jump and will undoubtedly break the 30′ mark in her senior season. Coach Porter commented, “Caroline has really become a focused athlete, she takes her training seriously and continues to improve each day. It was very rewarding watching her achieve her best mark on the season today”.
Below: Hines and Craig
Julia Bessette and Grace McDonough each ran to their personal bests in the 800 meter race as well. The girls battled throughout the two laps despite being in a race with quadruple medalist and Section X Outstanding Distance Runner from Norwood-Norfolk Maddie Dineen. Julia (2:35.26) edged Grace (2:36.55) but the teammates were elated to have run so well on their final day! The other points for the girls came from talented freshman Josie Gabriel. Her third place finish in the high jump was fantastic despite jumping 2 inches shorter than her best at 4’8″. Coach Porter commented, “Although we only brought a handful of girls here tonight, all of the coaches are exceptionally proud of the way in which they have trained, competed and finished their seasons. We are very much looking forward to next year already and wish our seniors the very best as they move on this summer”!
Below: McDonough and Bessette
The boys team created some very memorable moments of their own! Max Finley took home the Outstanding Runner Honors on the evening with his “Work Horse” afternoon which saw him grinding out races. Not only did he anchor the winning 4 X 800 meter relay, but he also scored more points than the other runners on the track. His evening included a second in the 1600 (4:39.45), a 6th place in the 800 (2:10), and a second place finish in the 3200 meter race (10:28.8). His teammate and training partner Nick Lyndaker could have easily take this honor as well as Nick also stretched himself thin entering multiple events. Nick became the 3200 meter Champion with a time of 10:24.20. He also raced to a fantastic split in the 4 x 800 which positioned Max to bring home the win. His stellar evening also included a third place in the 1600 with a time of 4:40.37.
Below: Finley and Schuckers
Chris Schuckers was the other Canton athlete who stole the limelight on Friday evening. Schuckers was awarded the Section X Outstanding Sprinter Award for his efforts in the 4 x 400 relay (1st), first place in the 110 hurdles (16.98) , second in the 400 hurdles (59.43) and a third place in the high jump. Coach Porter commented, “Chris placed himself into an elite group of Canton hurdlers tonight. His breaking the 17 second barrier in the sprint hurdles and his unbelievably dramatic diving finish in the 400 hurdles breaking the 1 minute barrier is not something I’ve seen since school record holders Brandon Kenny ’07, Jeff Marquart ’01 and Ben Hammond ’07 were able to do it.” Coach Greg Kiah shouted so all could hear following Chris’s diving finish following the 400………..”Chris is Blue Collar” as his teammates swooped in the help him to his feet!
Below: Finley and Lyndaker
Another senior, Sam Pfotenhauer was one of the highest seeds in the section in the sprint hurdles but chose to take on the Pentathlon. The decision was made the week before sectionals. Having never done this event didn’t even cross his mind as he raced, jumped and threw to a first place finish outpacing everyone else in the event with 1985 points. “The electricity in the air from Sam’s teammates when he was announced as the winner was just awesome!”, commented Coach Deb Lyndaker. It was equally impressive when Cooper Ladouceur was announced to receive his 6th place ribbon in the same event. The guys just like each other so much and get along so well”, remarked Lyndaker.
Below: Pentathletes Ladouceur and Pfotenhauer
Another Individual champion for the Bears was freshman Ayomi Odetoyinbo. Coach Greg Kiah had been charting Ayomi’s throws throughout the season. Each and every time he competed, his distance improved. Ayomi spends a lot of time not only doing the workouts with the other guys, but he is generally the last to leave the discus ring. The day before the meet he threw the “Red Rider” Discus 103′ without the use of a spin technique. “We were fired up when he repeated the same throw at sectionals, securing the first place position from the field”, commented Coach Porter. “Ayomi is the youngest throwing champion we have had here at Canton. He has a ton of potential and we look forward to watching him continue to improve, his ability to be coached is exceptional”.
Below: Section X Discus Champion Ayomi Odetoyinbo
As the evening went along there were many other notable performances form the Bears. Zack VanBrocklin took 4th in the Long Jump, 4th in the 4 x 100 and 5th in the shot put. Another gritty effort on the day was with Chris Downs. Downs, who had been out all week with a moderate/severe ankle sprain, opted to compete and ran to a season’s best time of 56.30 in the 400 taking 5th place and high jumped to a 4th place finish. “Senior Nick Estabrooks and junior Miles Gendebein had awesome evenings and were extremely valuable components of our team’s score tonight”, remarked Coach Kiah. “Nesty finished with a 4th place in the 200 (24.84), anchored our 4th place 4 x 100 and ran great in the 100”, commented Kiah. Gendebein took a 5th place in the 800, ran on the winning 3200 meter relay AND the winning 1600 Relay. “Every time Miles runs it’s like watching fireworks go off”, exclaimed Kiah! “We also can’t forget the selflessness of Sam Thacher who waited all night for that 4 x 400 relay and ran a personal best time of 58 seconds and contributions by sophomores James Bailey and Vincent Nelson-Fuse as well!”, noted Kiah.
As the evening winded down the event was capped of by the biggest moment of the night for the Bears. As the first three legs of the 4 x 400 transitioned from Thacher to Gendebein to Schuckers and then on to Hayden Bregg, many in the stands felt like the Bears had run well and were going to settle for third. “All week Coach Kiah had been saying to the guys, “If you don’t think you can win….just don’t lose!” This mantra clearly stuck in the head and heart of Bregg who decided to pull off the fastest split of his life in the race. Hayden had already run to a 1st place in the 3200 relay and a 3rd in the 400 dash on the evening. The final lap of his season would be his most memorable, as he steadily crept up on the two leaders from Norwood and Franklin Academy. Coach Porter raised his arms overhead indicating a possible comeback victory with about 130 meters to go. “It just looked like he had enough left in the tank to catch the other guys”, commented Porter following the race. As the trio came down the last 50 meters it was clear that Bregg had a shot. Having passed the Norwood runner and with literally 5 meters to go, with Bregg now shoulder to shoulder with the Franklin Academy runner….. the FA runner’s legs gave out from his own tremendous effort. As green shirted runner crashed just shy of the finish line, Bregg lifted his chest high and broke the tape with the victory!
As his teammates swept in to meet him with shoves of joy, pats on the back and high fives, Coach Kiah exclaimed, “I think I just gave myself an aneurism from cheering so loud………I’m serious”! What a fantastic finish to a great season!
Full 4 x 400 Meter Relay Race below:
1600 Relay Champs Below: Thacher, Bregg, Gendebein, and Schuckers
Coach Kiah and Porter with the Seniors!
The next morning, Coach Deb Lyndaker summed it up well. “I’m having a hard time to find the words to describe last night. It honestly feels like a dream. Every single athlete performed amazingly well, yet more important than that was their energy and all of the smiles! We have been grateful for every moment of the season yet it felt like we were holding our breaths, hoping for a championship meet! We had it last night! The atmosphere, the intensity, the drive. It was a pure joy to watch the athletes achieve their goals and push past their limits. Couldn’t be prouder of the whole team!
For complete results, see below the photos.