By Sam Wilson
Payton Rowe’s Springville-Griffith Institute athletic career came to a close last weekend, but she took home one more medal to cap off her record-breaking run with the Griffins.
Rowe took fifth out of 18 runners in the NYSPHSAA Division II 400-meter hurdles last Friday at 1:05.48, her second consecutive year as a state medalist (top-six finisher). The senior also took 12th in the 100-meter hurdles Division II finals with a time of :15.92 at the state track and field championships at Middletown High School.
The meet led to a bittersweet ending, as described by SGI girls track coach Mark Heichberger.
“I can tell you we, Payton, I, the coaching staff are extremely happy that she was the sectional champion again at sectionals in the 400 hurdles,” Heichberger said, “and pumped that she qualified for the 100 hurdles for the first time for states. But at the state meet itself, I think we left a little disappointed, and there were a whole bunch of factors involved with that.”
Starting with some transportation issues, then unexpected conditions on Friday led to a difficult meet, Heichberber said.
“We didn’t get to practice on the track the night before,” Heichberger said. “It was a really long Thursday and then when she ran on Friday, all the 100 (meter) hurdlers, there were no block holders, which there usually are, and so there were no block holders for the 100 hurdles and the blocks slipped on all of the girls. I think all of the girls from our section said they ran worse times than usual and that was one of the factors why. The 400 hurdles was later in the day, it was a hot, humid day and I think the sun took a lot out of her.”
None of that, however, takes away from Rowe’s historic season and scholastic track and field career as a whole before she heads off to the University at Buffalo in the fall.
“She didn’t run as well as she wanted to,” Heichberger note, “but at the same point, she’s the first girl that we’ve ever had that has gone to the state meet two years in a row. It was a phenomenal season. She’s one of the hardest working girls we’ve ever had in Springville, and the good thing is (that) she gets to continue her career next year at UB. It’s not her last hurdle race ever, she still gets to compete.”
Notes: Additionally, as a team, the Griffins finished second in Section 6 Div. II with 56 points, behind only Tapestry Charter’s 62. Point calculations came in the week after the sectional championships, held May 31-June 1 at Williamsville South.