Standouts in Section V Track and Field ready for the finale
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out spring high school sports across the country last year.
But Maddie Pitts and her teammates made a triumph return to track and field when the Victor Blue Devils girls team won the Section V Class A1 indoor team championship in March. Pitts earned 16 of Victor's 95 points with three top-four finishes.
While the Blue Devils go after the Section V Class A1 girls outdoor team championship June 10 at Penfield, Pitts will seek her first individual sectional title at a meet that includes the area's largest schools.
"I think the team is competitive, we won the sectional title for indoors so we are going strong off of that," Pitts said. "Sectionals this year, with no counties (league championship) or state meet, it's the ultimate meet.
"It's what everyone has been working toward all year. We're hoping to do our best, put it toward a team and individual titles. I think we've all been working hard this whole season."
The girls team scoring could turn into a tight battle. Rush-Henrietta's girls and boys teams won their divisions last weekend at the school's Royal Comet Invitational.
"A1 is pretty competitive," Pitts said. "R-H has won the outdoor sectional title for the last countless years. There are always some strong athletes there."
Victor may also have to rise above Mercy, Webster Schroeder, Gates Chili and Penfield at the A1 championships.
"I think it would be amazing (if Victor wins)," the two-time Democrat and Chronicle All-Greater Rochester Indoor Team member said. "Indoors was amazing, since it was the first time since 2000 for the Victor girls.
"I would love to do that again outdoors, and show how much our Victor team has improved, and how much work we've put into the last year."
Pitts will try to help the Blue Devils in four events, including as the third leg in Victor's 400-meter relay. Gates Chili senior Kiarra Hollis and Pitts have the second-fastest seeding time in the 100 hurdles, behind Webster Schroeder sophomore Camryn Cole.
When it comes to the long and triple jumps, Pitts is the one to beat, based on her No. 1 seed in both events.
Pitts long jumped 17 feet-2 1/4 inches at Victor's invitational May 14. Only Veronica Duell, a senior at Byron-Bergen who will compete in another sectional meet this weekend, has sailed farther this spring. A 36-8 3/4 triple jump by Pitts during a dual meet last month is No. 1 on Section V's leaderboard.
"I've been pretty close (to winning at sectionals)," Pitts said. "I've finished second and third a few times."
Hilton senior's whirlwind 2021
When the prospects of a high school football season in Section V improved, Dontae Valion turned to the Hilton boys indoor track team to help increase his speed for when he put on a helmet.
The track Cadets were about two weeks into the indoor season when he approached Hilton assistant coach Aaron Bapst about joining the team. Valion never ran track in high school prior to then.
"I was very successful," Valion said about a season where he ended up on the Democrat and Chronicle All-Greater Rochester Indoor Team. "I did not think it was going to be that way, but it turned out to be more successful than I thought."
Valion, remaining on a roll, played well enough to be named to the D&C's AGR Football Second Team, as one of the top 50 players in the area. Then, instead of resting, he joined the Hilton boys outdoor track and field team.
"I was excited to go from one sport to another, then to the next," Valion said. "I was excited about that.
"I was very sad, because we lost in the (football) sectionals, but excited to move to outdoor and see if my success can continue, and it has."
Valion is the sprinter to catch at the Section V Class A1 Championships at Penfield on June 10, when it comes to the 100 and 200 dashes.
"It's like a NBA Final or a NFL championship, the Super Bowl, to me," Valion said. "I expect to win, nothing more, nothing less.
"It sounds cocky, but it's confidence."
Webster Schroeder senior Kaden Leonard, who probably will run in a lane next to Valion at sectionals, can say he is one of two sprinters who beat Valion in the 100 this spring. The other is UPrep freshman Juelz Russell, who will run at the Class B1 sectional championships.
Valion won a rematch with Leonard during the invitational meet at Rush-Henrietta on June 5. The Hilton sprinter was the only one to run the race in under 11 seconds during the hot, windy afternoon.
The 200 at that meet was another easy win by Valion, who also owns the season's fastest time, a 22.16 during Hilton's Al Mullan Cadet Classic. Greece Olympia senior Xavier Hurell is the only sprinter to finish ahead of Valion in a 200, and that was in the Hilton sprinter's first varsity race at that distance.
"The competition is definitely there (at sectionals), I can't discredit anyone," Valion said. "I've lost twice (in the 100). Even though I've won a lot, I can't go out there and say I'm definitely going to win, because anything can happen.
"The competition is definitely there and I'm not underestimating anybody."
Underrating the competition seems like the wrong direction to take, if you have a grand finale in mind.
"That's exactly what I want, I want to go out with two wins," Valion said. "I want to be remembered."
James Johnson covers high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJDandC and contact through email.