BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — An apparent violation, which was overlooked by at least two officials, put a damper on Owego’s final event of this year’s NYSPHSAA Track & Field Championships Saturday.
The Indians’ Nate Bowers was cut off by a Honeoye Falls-Lima runner shortly after the hand-off to start the second leg of the Division II 4x800 relay. Bowers put a hand on the opponent’s back to brace himself, but still crashed to the track and lost valuable seconds.
The Indians — Derek Sarrge, Bowers, Cameron Szabo and Lewis Race — posted a time of 8:03.01, roughly a second off the school record (8:02.04), and placed sixth in Division II. HF-L finished fourth.
Owego coach John Heath said the relay wasn’t far off from breaking the school record it set at the state qualifier despite the fall.
“It definitely looked like an illegal cut-in,” said Heath, who was standing right at the corner where the incident occurred. “It pushed him against the rail. He tripped on the rail.
“We were playing catch-up from the beginning. In hindsight, we should have led with Szabo. That was kind of what our first instincts were at the beginning of the week and then we changed our mind. I’ll take responsibility for that, because if we lead with Szabo we get out of that trouble. Derek is just not experienced enough to take the stick first in this race. I think that kind of set us up for being in trouble, because then your other guys are running in a crowd instead of running out front.
“They ran a decent time considering. Fitness-wise, they were ready to go under eight (minutes) for sure. It’s not the way they wanted to finish.”
IN PHOTO 1: Owego’s Cameron Szabo with the baton following the exchange with Nate Bowers. … PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.
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