Rome Free Academy outdoor track and field freshmen Mariah Mays won the Federation Meet championship in the discus throw during the New York Public High School Athletic Association Championships on Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
Mays won with a distance of 128 feet even, breaking the school record as well as breaking the Tri-Valley League record.
"It’s been kind of unreal these past few days," said Mays this morning. "Everybody has been coming up to me and congratulating me, and everybody wants to see my medal. Everyone is so proud of me, and the support that I have gotten has just been amazing," he added.
"It’s been an unreal season for me, and I never would have thought I’d be able to achieve this. Coach (Brett) Couchman would always joke around with me and say that one day I was going to win a state medal, and I would always laugh because I thought he was joking, but now I think that he might have been serious. It’s just a crazy feeling right now," she added.
On Friday in the Division I finals, Mays placed third in the event with a distance of 117 feet, 4 inches, earning her a spot in the Federation Meet which includes athletes from public and parochial schools.
"The first day of the state meet I came in it was nice out and I was ready to throw, but I didn’t have my best day. I threw OK, but I knew that I left something back in the ring, and I was determined to come back the next day and leave everything I had out there," Mays said. "It was raining the next day, but I like to throw in the rain, and I ended up with my top performance," she continued.
Her first throw on Saturday didn’t land exactly like she had wanted, but her second throw landed the historic mark and Mays said she had a tough time controlling her emotions after that heave.
"I threw a horrible throw at first, and then I threw the next one and I didn’t even realize I threw it that far. I couldn’t react right after that moment, I had to stay composed because there was still another throw from every girl. I just gave the coach a quick glance, but he didn’t say anything to me after that one. He just starred at me because he and I both knew I had just thrown the shot of my life. Afterwards I was being hugged by everybody, and it was an amazing moment that I’ll never forget," Mays added.
"I have been coaching the girls team for the past 20 years and we have had many state place winners, but never a champion," said longtime RFA head coach Brett Couchman. "It was simply amazing."
Next up for both Mays and junior teammate Dana Husband, who will compete in the high jump event, is a trip to the National Championships in Greensboro, N.C. on Thursday thru Saturday. Mays will compete on Thursday and Husband will compete on Friday.
Mays, who is the daughter of RFA physical education teacher Billie Mays and elementary school aide Tara Mays, was making her second trip to the state championships. She now will be making her second trip to the national championships after she qualified during the indoor track and field season.
She says she owes a lot of her hard work and determination to her father. "I just think back to when my dad had to pull me into track. I didn’t want to do it at all, but now I’m attached to it," she said. "I’ve worked so hard to get where I am and it’s been a lot of fun along the way. I’m looking forward to going to make my second nationals meet, and I want to at least place out there. That would be one of my goals."
Several other area track and field athletes were in action on Saturday at C-NS. South Lewis’ Victoria Campanian came in seventh during the 2,000-meter steeplechase amongst Section II schools, as Sam Anderson represented the South Lewis boys’ team with a seventh-place finish during the 3,000 steeplechase event amongst Section II schools.
Vernon-Verona-Sherrill’s Alexis Kavanaugh placed sixth during the 100 dash event amongst Division II teams.
The Remsen girls four-person relay team of Makenna Cooley, Anna Roberts, and Ashley and Erin O’Connor came in 22nd place during the overall 3,200 relay finals.
Darois leads area golfers
A trio of RFA girls golfers teamed with Holland Patent golfer Rachel Halwig came away with solid finishes while competing on the Section III squad during the state girls golf championships at SUNY Delhi par 72 golf course over the weekend.
RFA’s Nicolette Darois was the second-best finisher for the Section III team with a 90 round during day one of the tourney and shot an 86 on day two for a total of 176 to finish 33rd overall.
Lady Black Knights teammates Lilly Bulawa finished tied for 43rd place with a two-day score of 186 after rounds of 94 and 92, while Mary Ann Bulawa came in 47th with a two-day score of 188 with scores of 94s.
Halwig finished tied for 48th place with rounds of 101 and 89 to finish with a 190 score.
Jamesville-DeWitt’s Molly Hair was the top golfer from the section with a 172 and finished tied for 28th place.
Cat Peters from Section VI’s Clarence High School was the top overall finisher with a 147.