Gene Twardzik/For The Recorder Fonda-Fultonville's Lindsay Therrien competes Friday in the 100-meter hurdles during the Section II state qualifiers in Albany.
Gene Twardzik/For The Recorder Canajoharie's Dainara Veeder, facing, and Fonda-Fultonville's Lindsay Therrien hug after Friday's 100-meter hurdles during the Section II state qualifiers in Albany. At left is Berlin's Meygan Delivan.
By MICHAEL KELLY
ALBANY -- For a split-second, it appeared Fonda-Fultonville senior Lindsay Therrien was going to dash off the track following a career-ending loss in the 100-meter hurdles at Friday's Section II outdoor track and field state qualifiers.
Therrien had entered the event at the University at Albany with the goal of winning the race and making it to the state championships for the third year in a row. Instead, the senior had finished in fourth place in the event, tying with Catskill senior Dari Diatchkovski in 16.76 seconds, while Catskill junior Carly Bulich won in 15.64 seconds.
While Therrien never broke stride once she hit the finish line, she was not headed for an exit, but for Canajoharie's Dainara Veeder. The junior had just run the race of her life, finishing in second place with a personal-record time of 16.27 seconds, and Therrien quickly engulfed her with both arms.
"What the heck, Dainara? Where did that come from?" Therrien said she told Veeder.
Once the hugs and excited shrieks subsided, Veeder smiled when speaking about the moment with a local rival. The junior said she had worried how Therrien -- the event's No. 4 seed -- might take a loss with her Lady Braves career at stake, but Veeder said those concerns disappeared as soon as she saw the F-F senior coming toward her, beaming.
"The first thing I saw when I got past the finish line was her and that was awesome," said Veeder. "That was so nice of her."
For the past three years, Therrien has been the standard in small-school hurdling for Section II, as well as a looked-up-to figure on the track amongst her local competitors.
"She's the leader of that event," said F-F head coach Mike Benton. "Girls look up to her in the hurdles, and in the jumps. She's so kind and outgoing that she makes people feel comfortable around her."
That was on display Friday. In a race that likely called for cutthroat competitiveness from Therrien, the senior spent time prior to the event working to calm down Veeder. The Canajoharie junior said she was a tightly-wound ball of nerves before the race, but that Therrien had put her at ease in the moments before the two lined up to compete.
"She pumped me up," said Veeder. "She gave me confidence."
After competing for the Lady Braves for four years, Therrien was aware that many area athletes saw her as more than just another competitor.
"I've heard the stories from my teammates that start with: 'Hey, um, there were these people down there, and they were talking about you,'" she said.
"But I know there are people out there better than me, too," she continued. "And, they were faster than me today."
That meant that Therrien's high school career ended Friday, a four-year run for the Lady Braves that included two trips to the state championships, three individual sectional titles and three team sectional titles.
"She's had a great career, scored a ton of points for us in a lot of events," said F-F assistant coach Dave Petersen. "She's been our MVP."
Despite her individual successes, Therrien did not hesitate to come up with a favorite moment from her career.
"It was last week, winning sectionals again," she said. "That was the highlight of my four years. We were such a young team and we never thought we'd win it. Getting to states was great, but winning that sectional title was the best."
Knowing Friday at UAlbany was her last high school race was not easy, but Therrien also said it was not the end of the world.
"I've thought about it and it is a little hard," she said. "But I also know I'm not done, either. I'll still be running and hurdling."
The plan is for Therrien to continue with the sport at Herkimer County Community College.
"Our loss is Herkimer's gain," said Benton. "If she runs out there, they're going to love her, too."
Follow MICHAEL KELLY on Twitter at twitter.com/RecorderMK