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State track meet: Pierce wins girls Division II 3,000-meter race

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MIDDLETOWN — As a member of the Pierce family, it’s difficult to do anything that tops the achievements of the oldest child, Jon.

But Canton junior Laura Pierce edged her older brother on Saturday, winning a state championship in track and field a year earlier than Jon, who won two state titles as a senior in 2002 before heading to Stanford University.

Laura Pierce won the girls Division II 3,000-meter run at Middletown High School and set a Section 10 record with a time of 10 minutes, 0.21 seconds.

Later, Pierce, along with teammates Maria Ricalton, Rebecca DelRossi and Gemma DelRossi, set another Section 10 mark with a time of 9:15.33 in the 3,200 relay, earning Canton a second-place finish in Division II.

“I looked at the (3,000) seedings and saw that I was seeded fourth,” Pierce said. “I was pretty confident that I could run around the time that I ran. I also knew that most people weren’t going to chop off quite as much time as I was hoping too, because of the sections they were coming from. I thought I had a pretty good chance at it.”

Pierce, who ran in a heat that mostly consisted of Division I runners, was in second in Division II for most of the race, running closely behind Greenwich’s Megan Baritot.

But Pierce ran two straight laps of 1:15 late in the race, and passed Baritot late in the race and finished over nine seconds ahead of her.

“It was really awesome to have (Baritot) there in the last couple laps just to focus on,” Pierce said. “I was feeling pretty tired, but with three laps to go or so, it was her ahead of me so I just told myself to try and relax. I didn’t really want to waste the energy. I figured I’d just sit back and relax, and I knew I had a good kick.”

While Pierce won a Division II title, she finished seventh in the Federation race, behind six Division I runners. That was what she remembered afterward.

“I talked to (Jon) and he’s really happy for me,” Pierce said. “It’s really exciting. It’s a state title, and I can’t complain, but at the end of the day, I really see myself being in seventh place and I’m still thrilled with that. But it’s not quite the same as a state title for me, but I’ll take it.”

Pierce’s win came fairly early in Saturday’s competition and helped spark her teammates. Gemma DelRossi was sixth in the Division II 800 in a Section 10-record 2:15.79.

“It was incredible,” DelRossi said. “It was a pleasant surprise. (Pierce) really pumped us up, we have to compete with that and equal Laura’s pace.”

The best showings by non-Canton athletes came from a pair of Section 3 girls. South Jefferson’s Skylar Pastor finished second in the Division II 400 and Altmar-Parish-Williamstown’s Kylee Bartlett was second in the Division II pentathlon.

Pastor, a sophomore, won a state title in the 400 as an eighth-grader, but has finished second in the event the past two years at states.

“I really liked my start, but once I hit (200 meters) I couldn’t go any faster,” said Pastor, whose time was 57.85. “I knew I tried my hardest. In eighth grade, I wasn’t expecting to win. The girl who won my division (Friends Academy’s Candace Taylor) really deserved it. She tries really hard. Some people are just better than you are, and you have to accept that. You have to work harder to get with them or beat them the next year. I like that she pushes me.”

Bartlett, a sophomore, took the lead early in the pentathlon and held it for the first four events. But a lead that was once 100 points had dropped down to 18 before the final event, the 800 run, in which Schalmont’s Isabella Borim won to claim the state title.

“There were a couple of events I definitely could have done better, but there’s nowhere to go but up,” Bartlett said.

Friday’s rains caused pushed everything to Saturday.

Malone senior Conor Gordon managed to be the only local athlete to medal in two individual events, finishing sixth in the boys Division I 1,600 and 3,200.

“I thought I had a good chance of medaling in the 3,200, but I didn’t have a clue in the (1,600),” he said. “It was really tough. I honestly surprised myself. I couldn’t have ended my senior year better. I went over my expectations doing both of them.”

Gordon’s teammate, Harvey Smith, ended a stellar career, medaling in the Division I 400 for a third straight year, finishing fourth in 48.69.

One of the surprise medalists came in the boys Division II 400, as Clifton-Fine’s Nate Aldrich finished sixth in 50.72. The senior, in his lone season in track, was not seeded high in the event. He had played baseball for the Eagles before this year.

“I’m excited,” Aldrich said. “When there was a heat with only three people, I just tried my hardest and I (set a personal record). I’m graduating with a class of 22 kids so it’s a pretty big accomplishment. I’ve played baseball since I was 7 years old.”

The area’s other medalist was Potsdam’s Ethan Vinson, who finished sixth in the Division II boys 1,600.

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