By MICHAEL KELLY
After patiently waiting, the outdoor track and field boys and girls from Fort Plain and Canajoharie will finally get their shot Saturday morning to compete at sectionals.
The two local rivals will head to the University at Albany, where the clubs will compete in the Section II Group 5 Championships.
Saturday's meet begins at 4 p.m. Here are three things to watch for at the championships:
ALL THE WAY BACK?
For the Hilltoppers, the center of attention is likely to be senior Jordan Ahrens.
The distance runner missed most of the season with an ankle injury, and actually needed to get a formal waiver from Section II in order to compete Saturday because he had not participated in enough meets this season.
But Ahrens remains one of the best small-school runners in Section II and he has made steady progress since returning a couple weeks ago. Saturday's meet represents Ahrens' final chance before state qualifiers to show if his abridged season has enough juice in it to end with a ticket to the state championships.
THIS TIME, IT COUNTS
While all athletes in Section II only get a few chances to compete with fully automatic timing (FAT), small-school runners get even fewer chances.
Saturday's meet will include FAT timing, meaning competitors from Canajoharie and Fort Plain will get a chance to see where they truly stand after a season of mostly hand-held times.
While the emphasis Saturday is on team success and placing individual into scoring spots, the presence of FAT timing will add an intriguing wrinkle for the small-school runners looking to make it to the state championships.
The Canajoharie girls edged Middleburgh at the WAC Championships by a single point, and those two teams are likely to go at it Saturday for a sectional crown.
In order to repeat their win from last week, the Lady Cougars need their talented crop of juniors to score gobs of points. If athletes such as Morgan Koelbl, Ariannah Logan, Jordyn Logan and Dainara Veeder have good days, the Canajoharie girls should stay right in the hunt.
Also, the field looks like it sets up nicely for eighth-grader Jordan Porter to produce a big day in the sprints -- and Canajoharie will need every point it can muster to hold off the Middleburgh girls and Co.
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