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Springville-GI girls track breaks 4x800 record

Record breakers McKenzie Maloy, Jess Wojkowiak, Alena Woodarek and Megan Hanrahan shaved 30 seconds off their 4x800 time to break an 11-year-old school record.
OLEAN—Springville-Griffith Institute girls track coach Mark Heichberger wanted his 4x800 relay team to challenge the school record at sectionals

They didn’t just challenge it, they broke it.

Megan Hanrahan, McKenzie Maloy, Alena Woodarek and Jess Wojtkowiak teamed up to break an 11-year-old school record in the 4x800 at the Section VI Championships at Olean High School on May 31.

The previous record was set in 2003 by Jessie Ellis, Shannon O’Keeffe, Katie Schelble and Jackie Jackson with time of 10:07.8. Anchored by Wojtkowiak, Springville broke the record with a time of 10:07.67 to take third overall in Division II at sectionals.

“Three of the four girls had PRs [personal-records],” Heichberger said. “Everyone ran really good times. We had two seniors on the team and they knew it was their last race of their high school career and they had nothing to hold back. They all wanted their names on that record board and they pushed themselves through a little bit of hurt and they got what they earned.”

Springville’s 4x800 team entered sectionals seeded 12th with a time of 10:37.42. They shaved 30 seconds off their seed time to make school history.

“We talked before hand, and we all knew they had a chance at the record,” Heichberger said. “But, it was going to take a team effort. When they got it, they were pretty happy. It was an exciting moment. It was pretty intense from a coaching standpoint watching Alena run down that backstretch, looking at my stopwatch and counting down 10...9...8. When she crossed the line, we knew it was close, but we had to wait for the official automatic timing to come out.”

The team broke the school record by just two-tenths of a second. The performance capped off an impressive meet for Wojtkowiak. The senior finished third in the 1500 and eighth in the 3000, she set personal-records in both races. In the 1500, Wojtkowiak was seeded tenth going in with a time of 5:07.91. To finish third, Wojtkowiak shaved 10 seconds off her time. In the 3000 she shaved nine seconds off to go from the sixteenth seed to finishing eighth. Wojtkowiak did all of that after not competing at ECICs because of a trip to Florida.

“Well, if going to Florida makes people run that fast, we might be taking a team trip to Florida next year before sectionals,” Heichberger said with a laugh. “She ran great though. She went out there and ran like it was her last time running. She didn’t run for pace, she ran to compete and she competed. She did a heckuva job.”

Junior Jess Wiede finished fifth in the Division II shot put, with a throw of 34’02”. Wiede will return next season and will be looking to chase the school record of 38’03” set by Paige Wilson in 2011.

“We’re going to set some reasonable goals for next season,” Heichberger said. “Jess wants to break the school record. That’s her goal. I think it’s obtainable, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work. I think I’m going to talk to her about getting that state qualifying mark, that’s a pretty good goal. We’ll access it once it comes. She still has a full indoor season ahead of her. If she’s throwing 37 feet in indoor, we can aim for the school record, we can go Section VI champ.”

Alena Woodarek had an impressive time in the 400 hurdles. Her time would have been a personal-record and qualified her for the finals, but Woodarek was disqualified for her trailing leg going around two hurdles.

“Alena went over to go see who made finals. We assumed she made finals based on her time,” Heichberger said. “We went over and it said ‘DQ hooked two hurdles’. I went over to the head official and he said on the backstretch of the track, her trail leg went around the side of the hurdle instead of over it.

“It’s tough for me as a coach and I’m not even the one that just ran my heart out to find out I got DQed,” Heichberger said. “She took it pretty hard, but part of it might have helped her run a solid 800 time the next day.”

Alena Woodarek finished fifth in the pole vault, clearing 9’3”. Other girls competing at sectionals included: Brittney Luther (100 hurdles), Joelle Adamczyk (400) Kalei Brautlacht (triple jump), Emily Zebrowski (discus), Elle Russell (1500, 3000) and Springville’s 4x400 team of Luther, Adamczyk, Brautlacht and Megan Loop.

“I think we had a great meet,” Heichberger said. “For the girls that went in, we had a lot of personal-records.”


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