By Rob Centorani The Daily Star
---- — CICERO — Cooperstown’s Lucy Ford couldn’t repeat, finishing fifth in Division II with a best of 5-foot-2.
Ford was one of three local athletes competing on the last day of the state meet along with Downsville’s Antonio Gomes and Oneonta High’s Brittney Herrick on a beautiful Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High.
To be clear, the aforementioned athletes didn’t have their best days Saturday.
Ford and Herrick failed to clear their seed heights in the high jump, and Gomes ran faster Friday in the 200-meter preliminaries than he did in Saturday’s final in Division II (school enrollments of 600 or fewer).
Still, their schools will no doubt miss them.
“She’s somebody I respect, somebody I cherish and treasure,” Cooperstown girls track coach Connie Herzig said of Ford, who cleared 5-foot-2 and tied for 17th overall. “She left the program in better shape than she found it and that’s the best thing you can say about a senior.”
Herrick cleared 5-0 in the high jump, placing 28th overall and ninth in D-II. Looking at the overall body of athletic work Herrick completed as a senior, it’s easy to be impressed. She led the volleyball and basketball teams to sectional titles, earning all-state honors in both sports, and then qualified for states in track for the third straight year. She’ll continue playing volleyball at Division I Siena next season.
“I’m so excited to go to Siena in the fall,” Herrick said. “I already have my workouts and I’ve been working on them. I can’t wait to meet all the new girls and start a new adventure.”
Last year, Ford became the first Cooperstown girl to win a state championship in track. She cleared 5-5 at states last season, but her best this season coming into states was 5-4.
She cleared 5-0 and 5-2 on her first attempts but had no success in three tries at 5-4, hitting the bar on her way up on her first and third tries.
“It was a beautiful day to jump,” said Ford, who’ll compete for Brockport State next season, “but I was tired, a little lackadaisical. I haven’t been jumping that high this year and that hurt me today. My timing over the bar wasn’t good.”
As for leaving Cooperstown as its first and only state champion in girls track, Ford said: “I really love Connie Herzig, my coach. We just have a great program and the whole school is supportive, and it’s so nice.”
Herzig added that thanks to Ford’s example and guidance, Cooperstown has two high jumpers for next season — Mya Stearns and Samantha Fanion — who cleared 5-0 this season.
Ford won state medals in all three of her state-meet appearances.
Herrick appeared to be over 5-2 on two occasions but hit the bar with her legs on the way down.
“I did better than I did last year, which is what I was aiming for,” said Herrick, who cleared 4-10 in her first two trips to the state meet. “For me, it was a successful day.”
Like Cooperstown, Oneonta’s high-jumping situation appears to be in good hands as Herrick’s sister, freshman Mallory, made it over 5-0 at last week’s state qualifier.
Even if Ford and Herrick cleared personal-bests Saturday, they would have had a hard time beating Alden’s Hailey Rospierski, who won the D-II title with a clearance of 5-7.