By MICHAEL KELLY
FORT PLAIN -- The Canajoharie Lady Cougars outdoor track and field team entered this season as one of the favorites in the Western Athletic Conference, and the club did nothing to dissuade anyone from that way of thinking with Thursday's season-opening performance.
"We were really impressed, from top to bottom," said Kevin Stuttle, who co-coaches the Lady Cougars with Ellee Fichthorn.
Canajoharie easily outpaced a developing squad from Fort Plain, 102-35. The Lady Cougars received sparkling debuts from juniors Ariannah and Jordyn Logan, junior Christina Towse and others.
"I was really impressed with everybody. We really pulled it out," said Towse. "We came out and we did what we had to do, and what we have to improve, we'll improve, and what we did well already, we'll keep practicing."
Towse won the day's 100-meter dash (14.4 seconds) and triple jump (31 feet, 10 inches), and she contributed to the school's winning entry in the 4x100-meter relay, along with freshman Jade Acquilla, junior Theresa Wellington and senior Rebecca Custer-Slater. The foursome combined for a time of 56.9 seconds in the 4x100-meter relay.
In that same event, Fort Plain (1-2) also had a solid effort. The group of junior Gabbie Bridgewater, sophomore Soren Shirley, and sophomores Brandy and Cheyann Walters finished with a time of 57.9 seconds.
"So, we beat last year's best time already," said Bridgewater, who also won the competition's shot put with a throw of 28 feet, 6 inches.
Besides Bridgewater, the only other Lady Hilltoppers athletes to notch wins were freshman Cheyenne Munson (1,500-meter run; 5 minutes, 54.1 seconds); sophomore Emily Potter (3,000-meter run; 13 minutes, 17.8 seconds); and, Cheyann Walters (pole vault; 6 feet, 0 inches).
Fort Plain head coach Ed Duba said his main goal Thursday was to see improvement from his young squad.
"We knew [Canajoharie] was a very strong and very mature team -- and we don't have any seniors," he said.
The Lady Cougars (1-0) received strong efforts from some of its youngsters, too, with eighth-grader Jordan Porter sticking out. Porter contributed to a winning 4x400-meter relay team with Custer-Slater and the Logans, plus the eighth-grader won the 200-meter dash with a time of 29.8 seconds.
"She's never really run a 200 before," said Fichthorn. "She had a phenomenal day."
Besides Porter's and Towse's individual wins, the Lady Cougars received two solo wins apiece from Ariannah Logan and Jordyn Logan. Ariannah Logan won the 800-meter run with a time of 2 minutes, 43.9 seconds, and won the long jump with a leap of 15 feet, 0.5 inches; Jordyn Logan won the 400-meter dash with a time of 64.5 seconds, and won the high jump with a leap of 4 feet, 10 inches.
"I thought they had a great showing today," said Fichthorn. "They're both hard workers and their times in practices have been good."
Also adding solo wins for Canajoharie were senior Mackenzie Montanye (discus throw; 82 feet, 1 inch); junior Morgan Koelbl (400-meter hurdles; 77.8 seconds); and, Paige Shovelton (100-meter hurdles; 18.6 seconds).
The Lady Cougars' 4x800-meter relay team of junior Alexis Kane, Koelbl and the Logans also added a win with a time of 11 minutes, 1.2 seconds.
"We did way better than we thought we would," Jordyn Logan said.
Now, the Lady Cougars' focus becomes improving on their opening performance. After a 2013 where the club contended all season in the WAC, the squad has designs on doing the same thing in 2014.
"I'm expecting that -- hopefully-- we can do that this year, too," Jordyn Logan said.
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