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Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year: Riley Spingler, Weedsport

Weedsport's Riley Spingler is The Citizen's Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. 

Riley Spingler is a three-sport athlete, but there's one thing above all else that upsets him.

"Something about losing a race bugs me the most. If I lost in a game of basketball, it was alright. It would eat at me, but something about someone being faster than me ... it was something that drove me insane."

Spingler's competitive nature stems from his youth, as he recalls running around in the back yard with his older sister LeAnn and her friends. If he lost one race, he'd challenge them again and again "until I beat them."

Few were faster this spring than Spingler. The Citizen's Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year made his second appearance at the state track and field championships this year, placing fourth overall in the 400m dash while also competing in the 200m dash and the long jump.

Spingler's time in the 400m dash was 49.56. He wrapped up the 200m dash in 22.81 for 11th overall in Division II, and he landed a distance of 21-1.50 in the long jump for 10th place.

"I placed in top five in the 400 which is what I was shooting for. I broke another school record which I thought was pretty cool," Spingler said. "In the long jump I had some problems with my knee but I was still within the top 10. I think I definitely met my goals."

In the 400m, Spingler saved his energy through the first 200 meters before finding another gear for the stretch run. He says the first quarter of the race, and even the first few steps, are the hardest, but after that he settles into his pace.

Learning when to kick it into high gear was a process he worked through throughout his career.

"A lot of kids make the mistake of coming out too strong and the last 200 is where I get them," Spingler said. "My very first year when I ran, I was one of those guys that was full out all the way, and I realized that's not going to work. The last 100 meters is the final gear. It's all out."

In comparison to other sports — Spingler also plays football and basketball — he believes track requires the most mental strength. A lot of time spent training, especially late in the season, is done alone.

"When you're training for sectionals or state championships and some kids don't make it, you're out on the track running by yourself," Spingler said. "It's like, 'What can I do to motivate myself today? What can I do to keep me going and make me better?' I always find little ways that will push me or make me go faster during practice."

Spingler will carry that attitude to Alfred University where he'll be slotted in as a shooting guard for the men's basketball team next year. He's also considering whether he will continue his track career to "keep busy and stay in shape."

He knows that college won't replace what he had in Weedsport. When Spingler competed for the Warriors, whether it was on the field, track or court, he did so with pride.

"A lot of people say they wouldn't want to represent any other school or wear any other school's colors, but running and playing for Weedsport meant everything to me. The support from the parents and the friends you make here ... it's a small town community and I think it's better than anything."

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Sports writer Justin Ritzel can be reached at 282-2257 or at justin.ritzel@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenRitz.

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