Greene junior Chad Noelle had a lot more hair and a lot less name recognition at last year’s track and field state championships. He was the number 16 seed and proved a big surprise finishing third overall in Division II.
“It’s kind of weird,” Noelle said. “Last year I was 16th, and I went up 15 places this year.”
Sporting shorn locks and running at an even quicker pace, Noelle set a Section IV record in the 1,600-meter run at last week’s Section IV State Qualifier. His time of 4:10.54 shattered a 20-year-old mark, and it’s the best time among high school students in New York State this season. It’s also ranked among the best times nationally.
Noelle is one of several local athletes who will head to Vestal’s Dick Hoover Stadium today for the rack and field state championships. Noelle is the top overall seed in the 1,600 meters, and is also the number one seed among D-II competitors in the 3,200 meters. While many Greene athletes have placed high in the state meet, none have earned that coveted spot on top of the podium. “I’m trying not to think about it, and trying to think of it as just another race,” Noelle said, who will begin his state title quest in the 3,200 meters tonight around 6:30 p.m.
Noelle raised eyebrows with his stunning 1,600 performance, but among local athletes, Oxford junior Katie Woodford has the most experience on the state level as she makes her third straight appearance. She was sixth in the state as a freshman in the 400 meters, and won a state championship last year. She returns in that event as a top-two seed, and is joined at the state meet by twin sister Emily Woodford, who is the state’s top seed in the 200-meter dash. Oxford also brings along Amanda Marks and Jessica Russo, who team with the two Woodfords as the third seed in the 400-meter relay. Marks and the Woodfords made of three-quarters of last year’s state championship 400-meter relay. “The three that ran last year, they’re all stronger and faster this year,” said Oxford head coach Irene DeJager. “They embraced Jesse this year and welcomed her with open arms.”..