CICERO — Four girls who have run together for the last three years made their final race one they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.
Canton’s Rebecca DelRossi, Maria Ricalton, Laura Pierce and Gemma DelRossi dominated the Division II 3,200-meter relay, winning a state championship on the final day of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association outdoor track and field championship meet Saturday at Cicero-North High School.
The quartet broke its own Section 10 record by almost seven seconds, finishing in 9 minutes, 8.51 seconds. Canton finished more than five seconds ahead of the second-place Division II team, Bronxville (9:13.59), and nearly defeated Division I Corning (9:04.51) for the Federation title.
“It just means so much,” Canton’s Gemma DelRossi said of the championship. “It’s the capstone of our high school experience. Coming in as a freshman, I didn’t even think I’d be running an 800 (meters) under 2:40. To be at this level right now is just absolutely incredible, and it amazes me.”
Said Gemma’s twin sister, Rebecca, “I’m euphoric right now. I’m on cloud nine.”
Rebecca DelRossi ran the first two laps of the race for Canton, followed by Ricalton. Pierce took the third leg and Gemma DelRossi closed out the race.
Canton took a lead among the Division II teams early and for most of the race was going back-and-forth with Division I’s Corning in an attempt to win the Federation title as well.
“(Federation) was a goal,” Ricalton said. “I didn’t know if it was realistic until after the first lap.”
All four girls wore gold ribbons in their hair and, as soon as the race was over, huddled together in the infield, sharing a quiet moment of celebration.
“It’s pretty great,” Pierce said. “The entire time was just really exciting. I really enjoy going third because I get to see the two of them start it out and then Gemma finish. It’s really fulfilling to get the baton with a lead in the state championship race.”
Rebecca DelRossi started the race, then spent the next six laps getting more and more excited.
“I was cheering my loudest,” Rebecca DelRossi said. “There’s something about being able to watch your teammates go by that’s my favorite.”
Canton’s Section 10 record was 9:15.33 before Saturday’s race, which was set at last year’s state meet when the same quartet finished second in Division II.
“It proves on paper that we are better than we were last year,” Pierce said. “I think we already knew we were, but it’s just a nice little touch.”
Canton’s girls were the only championship won on Saturday, but three other local athletes earned medals during the final day of competition.
Indian River’s Shane Davis picked up two medals, finishing fifth in the boys Division I 100-meters and fourth in the Division I 200.
Watertown’s Matthew Olney placed sixth in the boys Division I pentathlon, and Malone’s Rebekkah Bond placed seventh in the girls Federation 400 hurdles.
Davis was not expected to medal, based on his seed times entering the event, and based on the fact that he never competed in track and field until this season.
“I came in pretty much seeded last,” Davis said. “It was a nice surprise coming in and winning medals today. During practice no one pushes me to my limit. Once I come out and race the best of the best, you see my true potential.”
Until this season, Davis has skipped spring sports at Indian River.
“It was my senior year and I haven’t won anything,” Davis sport. “Every sport that I played, we won league titles, and that’s it. I wanted to go to states, so I figured with track I might as well give it a shot, and it worked out really well. I ended my senior year with a bang.”
Davis, who grew up in Hawaii, plans to return home for college and said he will attend Hawaii Pacific University.
“I’m going to take it easy, no sports for a few years,” Davis said.
Olney’s medal was also unexpected considering he got off to a rough start in the first three events of the pentathlon Friday and was in 10th place. But after Saturday’s first event, the long jump, he moved into sixth place and stayed there through the final event, the 1,500 meters.
“I thought I did pretty well, but there were some ups and downs, especially in the high jump,” Olney said. “It really got to me, but I bounced back from that and ran my hardest. I’ve been working in practice really hard for the running events.
“I made it my mission to make them my stronger events,” Olney added. “I felt confident. You always want to put high expectations for yourself, otherwise you won’t push yourself as hard. I thought I did very well, considering it was my first time.”
Malone’s Bond had an interesting state meet. She was not highly seeded, but nearly medaled in the Division I 400 hurdles on Friday, finishing seventh.
She raced in the steeplechase Saturday morning and fell face-first into the water pit, but managed to come back and finish in eighth place in the event, and then finished seventh in the Federation 400 hurdles final.
“I was looking forward to this after yesterday’s race,” Bond said. “(Friday) was my first time actually racing with someone in front of me. It was nice to have that. I didn’t have any worries (in the steeplechase). I got up and almost ran my (personal record), so it wasn’t too bad.”