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sports

Right on track

Sullivan West junior Mitch Paciga takes fourth place in the high jump with a leap of 6-0.

By Richard Ross
January 23, 2013

WEST POINT, NY — Within each of us there resides far more strength and resolve than we could ever imagine. All that is required to unleash that powerful reserve is the right challenge and the mustering of will and perseverance to meet it head on.

For the hundreds of high school students who give their all as runners, jumpers or throwers in the unheralded indoor track season, the OCIAA Championship meet offers a golden opportunity to go against Section 9’s best in an effort to achieve new personal milestones. This year’s meet almost didn’t happen, as it was not included in the original winter schedule. Fortunately that ill-conceived omission was reversed, and the two-day meet took place on January 18 and19, albeit with its share of imperfections, due in part to constraints of time.

To err is human and there were some foibles that detracted from this year’s meet, a couple of which registered profoundly with Eldred senior distance standout Alex Campanella; more on that shortly. For kids from the smaller Sullivan County schools, medals are hard to come by against schools with far deeper talent pools. That said, the county had its share of local heroes and heroines who stated their case by garnering first through sixth place in their respective events. In addition, many more achieved personal bests either for the season or for their careers to date. Medalists included Eldred’s Alex Campanella, who was first in 3200 (9:35.47) and second in the 1600. Since Campanella and Middletown’s Alex Shodai lacked a seed time in the 1600, coming into the meet despite their prior stellar history in the event, they were placed in the unseeded race, thereby lacking the competition that would drive them to their fastest times. In addition, an official stepped out onto the track causing a minor collision with Campanella, whose time would eventually be 41 hundredths of a second short of the winner of the seeded race. The result is under protest. Campanella and his Eldred cohorts will head to the New York Armory this weekend for the New Balance Games where the stalwart senior will look to qualify for the storied Millrose Games in February. Teammate Julian Gottlieb was third in the unseeded 55 (7.41).