Track and field: McKinley Wheeler wins two titles at New Balance Nationals

CARY, N.C. – McKinley Wheeler’s first trip to the New Balance Nationals track and field meet led to a pair of titles.

The Saratoga Springs eighth-grader won the middle school girls 2-mile race in a battle with her twin sister, Sheridan. Then, she teamed up with Sophie Tesla, Ella Kurto and Kelsey Chmiel to win the girls championship 4×1 mile relay.

The Wheeler twins led a strong contingent of Section 2 runners in the middle school girls 2-mile run. McKinley finished with a winning time of 11:04.58, while Sheridan placed second with a time of 11:08.24. Shaker’s Kaleigh Higgins was third with a time of 11:21.03, and Greenwich’s Teagan Wright took 13th place with a time of 12:01.50. Columbia’s Shea Fajen (15th place) and Abigail Moxon (17th) also finished in the top 20.

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McKinley Wheeler ran the second leg of Saratoga’s 4×1 mile relay and kept her team in the hunt. Following another strong leg by Kurto, Chmiel took the baton and passed 10 other runners over the final mile to give Saratoga the victory with a time of 20:31.67 – nearly five seconds ahead of runner-up Davidson track Club of Ohio. Shenendehowa was fifth with a time of 20:37.27, and Niskayuna finished ninth with a time of 20:59.12.

The victory in the 4×1 mile relay capped an outstanding final high school meet for Chmiel. The senior also placed second in the girls championship 5,000-meter race with a time of 16:18.57, 2.37 seconds behind national champion Sydney Masciarelli.

Schalmont’s Mia D’Ambrosio made the podium in a pair of Emerging Elite division events. The sophomore placed second in the girls 400-meter run with a time of 55.52 seconds, and she finished sixth in the 200-meter dash finals with a time of 24.09 seconds. D’Ambrosio entered the finals with the fastest qualifying time of the meet, posting a time of 23.94 seconds.

Shaker’s Leonni Griffin grabbed a pair of third-place finishes in the middle school division. The seventh-grader recorded a time of 2:17.52 in the 800-meter run, and she finished with a time of 5:09.40 to lead a strong Section 2 contingent in the mile. Higgins was ninth in the mile with a time of 5:18.46, and Wright placed 11th with a time of 5:18.89. Saratoga’s Skyler Knott took 17th place with a time of 5:24.76.

The Shen girls 3,200-meter relay team (fourth place) and the Mohonasen 1,600-meter sprint medley relay team (sixth place) also had top-six finishes in their respective divisions. Stillwater’s Kelly Moran finished fifth in the freshman girls triple jump with a distance of 36 feet, 7 inches, and she added a top-20 finish in the freshman girls long jump (19th) alongside teammate Gianna Locci (11th).

On the boys’ side, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake finished second in the 4×1 mile relay with a time of 17:26.98, while Colonie’s 800-meter relay team took second place in the Emerging Elite division with a time of 1:28.72. Niskayuna’s Marty Dolan placed third in the 2,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 5:58.32, and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s Tyler Berg had a sixth-place finish in the 5,000-meter race with a time of 14:40.81.

Taconic Hills’ Neil Howard III was fourth in the middle school pole vault (10-2.5) and eighth in the triple jump (36-2.25).

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