MIDDLETOWN — Mushirah Sheppard’s six-year varsity track and field career came to a close in the state championships on Friday, finishing fifth in Division II and 11th overall in the pole vault.
Sheppard is just the second Salamanca athlete to make the New York state track championships four times. She cleared a height of 10-feet-0, still below her personal best, to tie for fifth in Div. II.
“I am not upset with myself, because I know I didn’t give up or make excuses, but I am disappointed,” Sheppard said after the meet, according to coach Laurie Lafferty-John.
She finished in the top half of all 27 girls from the NYSPHSAA to qualify in the pole vault at 11th.
“We were proud of how she approached the meet,” Lafferty-John said. “She did a great job preparing both physically and mentally. At this level of competition there is always such a fine line of where you need to be in your mindset for a great day. With a field of 27 athletes, I know Mushirah had set her goals higher but it just didn’t happen.
“The great news is, she will be moving on to become a college athlete and get a chance to continue to improve and compete at the next level. I know she is determined for some great things to come.”
Sheppard plans to attend SUNY Fredonia and compete in collegiate track and field.
“She has been such a great kid to coach,” Lafferty-John said. “When I think back on the first day I met her and see how far she has come I have nothing but pride. She said from the beginning she wanted to be a pole vaulter and the first few weeks with her I was questioning and whether this was the event for her. She quickly changed my mind and she can walk away saying she is the best female pole vaulter Salamanca as ever had to date.”
In addition to holding the school record in the pole vault, Sheppard is on Salamanca’s top 10 list in 10 of the 17 events in track and field.
“That alone is impressive,” Lafferty-John added. “She has made her mark, like I mentioned, in the history of our program. Mushirah has made an impression on so many of her competitors and coaches over the years. She has always demonstrated tremendous sportsmanship and her demeanor around the track has always represented Salamanca with the class.”
— From Randolph, the Cardinals’ boys 3,200-meter relay team broke a school record with a time of 8:08.84. Ronan McDonald, Christian Riethmiller, Deiter Miinte and Josh Walters finished 24th overall and ninth in Div. II. They broke the mark of 8:11.1 set by Ken Grabowski, Scott Turner, Todd Murray and Tim Wade in 1987.