BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - Owego’s Nate Bowers and Cameron Szabo will add another feather to the caps of their illustrious high school running careers today at the 2019 NYSPHSAA Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Ocean Breeze Track and Field Facility here.
Last week, Bowers won the state qualifier and heads into the state meet seeded 24th with a time of 9:44.3 in the 3200-meter run. Corning’s Nathan Lawson is the highest Section IV seed with a time of 9:41.98, good for 23rd. The Hawks’ JT Ryan is seeded 27th in a field of 36 competitors with Saratoga Springs’ Shea Weilbaker being the favorite at 9:07.29, more than nine seconds faster than the next closest competitor.
Szabo, who also won the state qualifier, is seeded 19th out of 27 athletes in the 1,000 with a time of 2:37.17. Horseheads’ Owen Juan is seeded 16th at 2:36.31. Ermiyas Harper from Midwood of the PSAL is the top seed with a 2:30.67.
Both athletes won their events at the state qualifier last week and are making their indoor debuts at states. However, neither is a stranger to the challenges of competing at the state level as each has performed on NYSPHSAA’s highest level in the past. Bowers competed in the 3200 and Szabo was on the 4x800 relay squad at the outdoor track and field state championships last year. The duo also led the Indians to their second consecutive Section IV Class B cross country championship this past fall, qualifying the Owego team for the state meet for a second straight year.
While reaching the podium is the ultimate goal and will be a challenge against talented fields, Owego head coach Yvonne McKeon just wants to see each runner put forth his best effort.
"Give everything you’ve got," she said. "I just tell them leave it all on the track, so when you cross that line you have nothing left in you."
Bowers has only run the 3200 three times during the winter season, but it's all part of the training process.
"We’ve gone above and below the event to train him for it, because if you run the same thing all the time, conditioning-wise it doesn’t serve so much of a purpose, so when you train for something it’s below and above, and then you run the event a few times," McKeon said. "I know there’s a lot of different strategies people go by, but it seems to work really well."
Bowers feels his experience running cross country and outdoor track has helped him prepare to run the indoor two-mile.
"It all just works together," he said. "Off of cross country you get a lot of base training, because of more distance stuff and that actually helps you in indoor track. In cross country we practice all throughout the summer to get a good base in. In indoor track you don’t have to worry about that too much because you’re just coming off cross country. Doing longer distance stuff, like in different environments and stuff, definitely helps me get more mental strength and just get prepared for different races and just be ready for it, no matter what happens during the race, whether it’s indoor or outdoor or cross country.
Bowers has competed at different distances during the indoor season, which has helped him prepare for the 3200.
"I definitely helps a lot," he said. "Doing the mile, running that I wanted to hit specific paces and times for the end of the race. because that will transfer forward what my mile team could be in the 3200. If I can get my mile time down faster, then doing it in the two mile doesn’t feel as crazy or as fast. Doing the 800 or 1,000, even though they’re a shorter distance, they’re a lot faster and so it helps me with the end of the race in the 32, like at the higher speed and closing with a faster time and improve my end-of-race kick."
McKeon wasn’t surprised that at the state qualifier Szabo beat opponents who had finished ahead of him in three of five regular season meets.
"Like I said, physically, just based on their workouts alone, if they put into that race what they’re putting into the workouts … it all has to click on one day and that does’ happen every day - they both have a chance to podium, without a doubt," she said. "I believe that and if they want to believe that, then a lot can happen. It’s anyone’s game. You don’t know how any other competitor is going to compete that day. You don’t know who’s going to be strong or healthy or sick. There’s so many components. I tell them, you run scared, never assuming you’re going to beat anybody, even if you’re looking at all the seed times. That’s the one thing with all the technology now, is they can see all that.
"You run your race. Don’t worry about anybody else. You run your race and you’d better not be looking behind you once. Ahead of you. I always tell them, give it everything you’ve got. I always happy. I don’t care where you place. That day, give me everything and I’m happy."
Winning has served as a confidence booster for Szabo.
"I think it definitely raises it, because towards the beginning the season I was questioning whether I could make it there or not, but as time went on I started to get better mentally and physically. Going into state quals, I had so much confidence, like I know I’m going to win this. I’m going to put everything I have eon the track and leave it out there.
He appears to have the right mind-set heading into states.
"I think it pretty high. I’m feeling pretty confident," he said of his mental attitude. "I’ve seen all the seed times. I feel like I have e good shot at middling."
Szabo likes the 1,000 because it more similar to the 800, which he runs during the outdoor season.
"The first time running it, it was amazing. I juts like the feeling of it," he said.
He also feels his past experiences at state meet have helped him prepare for the indoor meet.
"Being at states in cross country and outdoor track, it kind of gives me a feeling like I’ve been here, I know what the competition is going to be like. I know it’s going to be tough, but if I put in the work effort I can do it. Since I’ve been to the state meet,I know what to expect.
The coach is pumped for this year’s meet.
"I’m excited," she said. "They’ve worked so hard for me, like amazing, absolutely amazing. They’ve earned it."
"If they run the way I know they can run physically, and they put the mental part into it, they’ll do some amazing things. It’s just got to come together on that one day. That doesn’t always happen every race. They’ve done the work. That’s a large part of it. They’re good kids. They’re good role models. I’m going to miss them when they graduate this year and I’ve been with them two years now."
Also qualifying for the state meet from Tioga County are Waverly’s Isaac Chandler, Melina Ortiz and Sheridan Talada.
IN PHOTO: Owego’s Nate Bowers (L) and Cameron Szabo.
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