WILLIAMSVILLE — For the fourth consecutive time, and the last time in her scholastic track and field career, Mushirah Sheppard’s season will end in same place: the New York state championships.
The Salamanca senior multi-event track star clinched her fourth consecutive state championship appearance on Saturday at the Section 6 track and field championships at Williamsville South. Sheppard placed second in the Division II pole vault, clearing the state standard of 10-feet-6-inches.
She’s just the second Salamanca track and field athlete to qualify for states four times after high jumper Whitney Hendershot, who went on to a NCAA Div. II national championship at Slippery Rock University.
“We are thrilled,” Warriors coach Laurie Lafferty-John said. “She has definitely made her mark in the history of our program.”
State championship qualification rules changed this year with the introduction of “super standards,” which was 10-8 in the pole vault. So Sheppard needed to either take second place or clear 10-8 in the sectional championship.
“Mushirah has that ability to rise to the challenge,” Lafferty-John said. “She always has. I could see in the last few meets she has become very focused. To be honest, this season has not allowed for much time at the track. With her school work, double sporting, working and other conflicts it created a difficult challenge to get quality work on the pole.
“Right now I feel she is in a good place moving into the states. She has decided to attend Fredonia University seeking a special education inclusion education degree and plans to be on the track and field team. I know that decision was weighing heavy on her mind. She seems lightened and more like herself with a lot of the stressors of being a senior behind her now.”
State championship competition starts Friday and continues to Saturday at Middletown High School.
Lafferty-John added that Sheppard’s goal is to set a new school record, which she already holds at 11-feet-0.
“Where that ends up placing her overall will be up to the track and field Gods,” Lafferty-John said.
“Mushirah has been an absolute pleasure to coach over the past six years. Kids with her talent and passion don’t come along all the time. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work with her and watch her blossom. She has grown tremendously in so many ways. I am confident she will find great success at the collegiate level and I can’t wait to watch it all unfold.”
Sheppard also competed in the sectional long jump competition, taking seventh at 16-0.
— Also for the Warriors, junior Kohl Ambuke took third in the boys’ Div. II pentathlon with a personal-best score of 3,024. Among the Div. II pentathletes, he took second in the high jump (5-11.25) and 110 hurdles (:16.59), third in the long jump (6.0 m) and fourth in the 1,500 (4:39.51).
From Cattaraugus-Little Valley, Lauren Eaton was fifth in the 100 (:13.07) and sixth in the 200 (:27.17). Emma Pocobello took eighth in the 2,000 steeplechase (8:24.01).
Hayly Fredrickson led the Franklinville/Ellicottville girls, taking fourth in the 400 hurdles (1:07.89) and fifth in the pole vault (9-6). Her twin sister Logan Fredrickson was sixth in the pentathlon (2,364). She took second in the pentathlon 800 (2:31.17) and fifth in the pentathlon 100 hurdles (:17.88)
F/E’s Meganne Chapman was seventh in the discus (95-2) and Alysa Williams was 10th in the 2,000 steeplechase (8:32.64). Mandy Hurlburt was ninth in the 100 hurdle preliminaries (:17.92).
For the F/E boys, Noah Steinbroner took sixth in the 200 (:23.81) and eighth in the 100 (:11.58). Tyler Oaks tied for ninth in the pole vault (10-6).
Randolph’s Ronan McDonald took second in the 800 (1:58.21). He also ran on two relays, including the second-place 3,200 relay team (McDonald, Christian Riethmiller, Dieter Miinte, Josh Walters), which timed in at 8:11.32. The Cardinals’ 1,600 relay (Walters, Riethmiller, Miinte, McDonald) was 10th at 3:37.98.
Randolph’s Kourtney Leeper was sixth in the girls discus (97-2).