Who to watch for in indoor track

By ROB JONAS

We’re closing in on the league championships for the 2019-20 indoor track season, so here are some athletes to watch down the stretch.

BOYS

Andre Woods (Albany) – The current Section 2 leader for the 55-meter dash (6.63 seconds), Woods will be tested by Guilderland’s Jaxon Wicks and Colonie’s Cristian Hubbard at the Suburban Council meet. Coincidentally, Hubbard leads Section 2 in the 55-meter hurdles (7.89 seconds).

Josh Jeffes (Scotia-Glenville) – The senior is picking up where he left off during the 2019 outdoor track season, where he finished third in the 400-meter dash in the small school division. Jeffes currently has the best 600-meter time in the area with a mark of 1:23.88, which he set at the Frank DeMasi Invitational last month at Union College.

Nolan Hickey (Shenendehowa) – One of the top individual performers for the Plainsmen, Hickey has been especially good at the middle distances, where he owns Section 2’s top time in the 1,000-meter run (2:33.74) and the boys mile (4:22.31).

Gitch Hayes (LaSalle) – The sophomore seems poised to become Section 2’s top distance runner. Hayes tops the leaderboard in the 1,600 (4:25.67) and the 3,000 (8:40.57). He also posted a time of 9:34.47 in the boys 2-mile race at the Bishop Loughlin Games on Staten Island.

Bryan Jacobs (Maple Hill) – Need a small school athlete to watch on the track? Jacobs is the one for you. He owns the second-fastest time in the 55-meter hurdles (7.93), which places him in the same ballpark at Hubbard.

Shane Racey (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk) – The state outdoor champion in the pole vault is making a strong case for winning the indoor title, too. Racey cleared the bar at 15 feet, 6 inches at a league meet earlier this season, which is not far off from the 16-foot mark he cleared to win the state title at last June’s outdoor meet.

Francis Kirk (Saratoga Springs) – The senior is lining up to be a dual threat at the Suburban Council meet and Sectionals. Kirk tops the leaderboard in the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches) and the long jump (22 feet, 9.5 inches). Kirk should see competition from Columbia’s Alexandros Wheeler in the long jump, as Wheeler has also topped the 22-foot mark this season.

GIRLS

Mia D’Ambrosio (Schalmont) – The senior is looking to close out her high school career with a state title in the 55-meter dash. Her best time thus far is a 7.12-second effort earlier this month at the Ed Cepiel Invitational at Springfield College, which puts her close to the Section 2 FAT mark set by Holy Names’ Klarissa Hicks in 2011 (6.95). D’Ambrosio also leads Section 2 in the 300-meter dash with a time of 39.81 seconds.

Ella Kurto (Saratoga Springs) – In case anyone was wondering who would pick up the slack at Saratoga following Kelsey Chmiel’s graduation, look no further than Kurto. The sophomore has the top Section 2 time in all of the relevant long distance events – the 1,000 (2:56.88), the 1,500 (4:47.1) and the 3,000 (9:52.47). Her biggest challenge may be deciding which events to focus on for the state meet.

Jada Dennis (Shenendehowa) – A third-place performance in a competitive 600-meter race at the Yale Invitational has Dennis atop the Section 2 leaderboard with a time of 1:36.57. If she can replicate that performance at the Suburban Council meet, it should position Dennis well for Sectionals and the state qualifier.

Kelly Moran (Stillwater) – The sophomore is performing at a high level in the long and triple jumps. She is currently tied with Shaker’s Julissa Forde for the top distance in the triple jump at 37 feet, 6.75 inches, and she trails Stillwater teammate Gianna Locci by 1.5 inches for the top spot on the long jump leaderboard. Moran and Locci will definitely duel each other for the long jump title at both the Wasaren League meet and the Section 2 Division IV Championships in February. The showdown between Moran and Forde will likely come at the state meet qualifier Feb. 23.

The league meets begin Feb. 2 at the University at Albany’s SEFCU Arena with the Colonial Council and Wasaren League championships, followed by the Foothills Council and Independent League meets. The Suburban Council holds its indoor track and field championships Feb. 9.

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