Weilbaker found way to win the big races
Saratoga Springs senior found extra gear in Class A races for sectionals, states
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.”
■ 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.
■ 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
Shea Weilbaker of Saratoga Springs won the Class A sectionals, then the state meet. He finished his season Saturday by finishing 25th at nationals.