EAST ROCHESTER — It was another banner day for Le Roy head coach Jay Laitenberger and his Knights’ boys squad, which earned its third straight Section V title at this weekend’s Class B3 Championships.
Several Knights recorded notable efforts at East Rochester High School, with four individual champions pacing LR’s (138) team victory, which came by a wide margin of 62 points over runner-up Canisteo-Greenwood (76).
“I think a driving force this year was our team slogan of ‘because they didn’t get to,’ referring to last year’s seniors who didn’t get a season,” said Le Roy head coach Jay Laitenberger. “This year’s team wanted to honor them and pass the knowledge down to the next group. “
Seniors Nate Andrews and Ethan Beswick and juniors Zach Vanderhoof Erik Schwab all recorded first-place finishes, with Schwab taking home two individual titles.
Schwab won the 3000-meter steeplechase (11:05.20) and 3200-meter run (10:46.35), where he finished just over three seconds ahead of runner-up Mitchel Felix of Warsaw (10:49.42). Schwab was honored as Most Outstanding Track Athlete.
“Erik was the No. 1 seed (on the leaderboard) in the (1600-meter run), (3200-meter run), and (3000-meter steeplechase), and we feel that if we put him in the 4x800-meter relay, they could have gone after Way-Coh for the top spot,” said Laitenberger. “I wanted to avoid running him into the ground. It was a single-class sectionals, (as opposed to a CC and B at the same meet like usual), and his recovery would be less than usual. We talked about several options. But in the end, I wanted him to have the (best) opportunity to win the 3200 and steeple. “
Vanderhoof came through with a winning toss of 47-7 1/2 in the shot put, with Warsaw’s Matthew Auble coming in just behind him with a throw of 45-9 1/4. Auble got the better of Vanderhoof in the discus, where the Tigers’ thrower won the title with a hurl of 143-1. Vanderhoof finished as runner-up with a second-place throw of 130-0. Warsaw’s Patrick Grover came in fourth in the discus (117-10).
Andrews won the 110-meter hurdles in 16.48, while Beswick finished atop the high jump leaderboard with a leap of 6-0.
“Nate has been our long-standing pentathlete, finishing second two years ago at sectionals. He spent all season working on the five events,” began Laitenberger. “But when it became obvious that the best move for the team was to move him into the (110-meter hurdles, 4x100-meter relay, and 400-meter hurdles) it meant giving up a potential pentathlon win to help accumulate more team points.
“I was excited for him when he won the hurdles because one event into the meet, he already matched the most points he could have gotten in the pentathlon.”
“Sometimes, when we focus on a team title, we might lose sight of individual success,” added Laitenberger. “Both of those guys (Beswick and Andrews) could have come up short of individual patches to help the team. Fortunately, they walked out with both. “
Le Roy also won the 4x400-meter relay, as Nick Vallese, James Blake, Brian Roblee and Brett Babcock combined to run a winning time of 3:36.87, less than two seconds better than runner-up Wayland-Cohocton (3:38.61). Way-Coh (8:45.61) defeated second-place Le Roy (9:12) in the 4x800-meter relay.
Roblee added a second-place finish in the 400 hurdles (1:01.22), where Andrews placed fourth (1:01.58). Cody Lytle finished fourth in the 200-meter dash (23.84), and Jacob Williams came in second in the pentathlon (2034). Vallese placed second in the triple jump (42-11 1/2), where Beswick took fourth (41-6 1/4), and Cole Rauscher was runner-up in the pole vault (10-6).
Wayland-Cohocton’s Tyler Jordan placed second in the 800-meter run (2:04.60), finishing just .58 behind North Rose-Wolcott’s Jack DeFeo (2:04.02). Way-Coh’s Titan Rocha placed third (2:04.91) in the 800 meters.
“One of the biggest challenges this year was the fact that without spring sports last year, we lost a year of passing knowledge down from veterans to young athletes,” concluded Laitenberger. “This year’s seniors were only sophomores last time track existed. There were a lot of times that we, as coaches, had to go back and re-teach drills and also teach “leadership” as well.”
Laitenberger says that his team’s ability to overcome was most impressive this season, best exemplified during their host invitational two weeks ago.
“This year, we had the opportunity to take on Fairport, McQuaid (Class A1 champs), Batavia (Class B1 champions) and HF-L (Class B2 runner-up) at the LeRoy Invitational two weeks ago,” said Laitenberger. “We ran the meet in sectional order, and I think the fact that we were able to compete against them all at the same time really made our team believe they can compete with anyone. That meet really served as a turning point for the boys from wanting to win to believing they can.”
That belief turned into confirmation as the Knights are champions three times over.