Weil­baker found way to win the big races

Saratoga Springs se­nior found extra gear in Class A races for sec­tion­als, states

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - SPORTS - By Sean Martin

Ath­lete of the Year: Shea Weil­baker, Saratoga Springs

Though he wasn’t feel­ing his best on the day of the Sec­tion II cham­pi­onships, Shea Weil­baker dug deep near the con­clu­sion of the Class A cham­pi­onship as he was locked in a duel with Matt Cava­liere of Beth­le­hem.

Though a top-two fin­ish would guar­an­tee a berth in the state cham­pi­onships, Weil­baker found an­other gear that pro­pelled him to vic­tory on a muddy course that Fri­day at Saratoga Spa State Park.

Call it a defin­ing mo­ment for the Saratoga Springs se­nior.

“It was a re­lief that I was able to get the win and fo­cus on states,” Weil­baker said. “I wasn’t feel­ing great and I didn’t run very well. But, I kind of pulled my­self to­gether and just moved for­ward from it. It worked out well.”

On the heels of his first sec­tional ti­tle, Weil­baker mas­tered the Sunken Mead­ows course eight days later in claim­ing the state cham­pi­onship by a 10-sec­ond spread over Ge­off Howles of Fayet­teville-man­lius and fol­lowed up with a sec­ond-place fin­ish at the New York and North­east Re­gional cham­pi­onships.

“I’m used to the pres­sure so I just did my nor­mal rou­tine. I just sat back, let ev­ery­one else do the work, and blasted the last 1,200 me­ters,” Weil­baker said of his state cham­pi­onship. “I was kind of sur­prised they (the field) didn’t re­spond that well.”

The state cham­pi­onship padded Weil­baker’s al­ready im­pres­sive re­sume, given he won the 2018 in­door track state ti­tle in the 3,200 me­ters and the out­door state cham­pi­onship in the 3,200 in June.

Though he is ac­cus­tomed to big races, Weil­baker ad­mit­ted to hav­ing a few pre-race but­ter­flies ahead of the cross coun­try cham­pi­onships.

“I woke up, it was es­pe­cially nerve-wrack­ing since I kind of had the pres­sure of get­ting the

three state ti­tles on my mind,” Weil­baker said. “It was the cul­mi­na­tion of ev­ery­thing the last year. Win­ning three state ti­tles means a lot.”

First team

■ Tyler Berg, Sr., Burnt Hills: Led Spar­tans’ charge to third straight state Class B ti­tle with his win at states . ... Re­peated as Sec­tion II cham­pion with the top time of the day of 15 min­utes, 4.13 sec­onds at Saratoga Spa State Park.

■ Evan Bren­nan, Sr., Burnt Hills: A key cog on one of the na­tion’s top teams, Bren­nan was sec­ond at sec­tion­als, third in the all-class merge, and ninth at states as Burnt Hills won an­other state ti­tle.

■ Matt Cava­liere, Sr., Beth­le­hem: Du­eled even­tual win­ner Shea Weil­baker down the stretch of the Sec­tion II Class A cham­pi­onship race be­fore fin­ish­ing sec­ond . ... Fin­ished 23rd at states, fourth-best among Sec­tion II Class A run­ners.

■ Marty Dolan, Sr., Niskayuna: Sil­ver War­riors se­nior was third at sec­tion­als and placed 20th at states, third best among Sec­tion II Class A run­ners.

■ Ai­dan Gil­loo­ley, Sr., Burnt Hills: Helped Burnt Hills to state Class B crown with his fourth-place fin­ish . ... Was third at sec­tion­als, sixth in the over­all merge for Sec­tion II run­ners.

■ Ezra Rug­gles, Sr., Saratoga Springs: Blue Streaks’ se­nior was fourth at sec­tion­als and was the sec­ond Class A run­ner to cross the line at states with his 19th­place fin­ish. ■ Shea Weil­baker, Sr., Saratoga Springs: Be­came first Sec­tion II run­ner to claim Class A state cham­pi­onship since 2006. ... Won Sec­tion II crown at class A level . ... Qual­i­fied for na­tion­als with run­ner-up fin­ish at New York and North­east re­gion­als.

Coach of the Year

■ Chip But­ton, Burnt Hills: Ex­pertly guided the Spar­tans through the reg­u­lar season, kept his team fresh and healthy, and peaked just in time for post­sea­son. Won third straight state cham­pi­onship in Class B and qual­i­fied for na­tional ti­tle meet in Port­land.

Sec­ond team

■ Antonio Bel­tran, Sr., Schal­mont ■ Ben Guerin, Jr., Ball­ston Spa

■ Alex His­lop, Sr., Shenen­de­howa ■ Nick Hun­ziker, Sr., Burnt Hills ■ Nick Lo­gan, Jr., Queens­bury

■ Ni­cholas Sold­e­vere, Sr., Guilder­land

■ Noah Tin­dale, Sr., Guilder­land

Will Wal­dron / times union

Shea Weil­baker of Saratoga Springs won the Class A sec­tion­als, then the state meet. He fin­ished his season Satur­day by fin­ish­ing 25th at na­tion­als.

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