Wildcats send two runners to college

March 23, 2011 —

By Bill Mullaly
The Wildcats of Pittsford will be sending two of its top track and field athletes to compete at the next level. The two Pittsford athletes will be ending their respective prep careers this spring as leaders of their track teams and then it is off to college in the fall to compete as college athletes. Lady Cat senior Morgan McFaul and Wildcat senior Austin Billington both will be taking their athletic talents to colleges. McFaul will be a member of the Jackson Community College cross country team, while Billington heads to Fort Wayne, Indiana to compete for Indiana Tech. McFaul is best known for her distance running exploits as she has starred for Pittsford teams for all four of her high school years. Billington is a master craftsman when it comes to the pole vault event where he is arguably the best in the state in Division 4. Here is a look at these two talented athletes and what lies ahead for them after they complete their days as Wildcats.

McFaul to run for Jets

She is small in size but she has the heart of a champion when it comes to running. McFaul has run cross country for four years and has also been a runner on the track team for all four years. She has racked up some impressive statistics as a runner for the Wildcats. In her freshman season of cross country she was 46th in the state in Division 4. She failed to qualify for state as a sophomore but then bounced back as a junior to place 62nd and then this past November in her final year of running she placed in the top 50 at the state meet. Her Wildcat team earned academic all-state honors and she was named her team’s Most Valuable Runner. All three years that she qualified for the state meet she also earned all-region honors. McFaul has also done well running in circles on the track and as a sophomore she went to the state meet in the two-mile or 3200-meter race. Two years ago her 3200-meter relay team also qualified for the state meet and placed ninth one spot out of earning a medal. Last year as a junior she was back at the state meet running on her team’s two-mile or 3200-meter relay team that placed fourth earning all-state recognition. She has excelled at both cross country and track but she makes it clear which one is her favorite. “I like both sports but I really love cross country as it beats running in circles on a track,” said McFaul, 17, a 3.4 student who is also a member of the National Honor Society. “In cross country it takes more guts, stamina, is more challenging and the scenery is so much better when you get out in the open and run.”

Her cross country running in high school was over 3.1 mile courses and the distance at the college level is the same. This past fall was a tough time for the hard-working McFaul who suffered a stress fracture in her leg and also endured a bout of mononucleosis. “I got back less than two weeks before the regional meet and I was thrilled to have been able to qualify for the state meet,” said Morgan, who will study education with hopes of earning a degree one day to teach English at the high school level. “I also want to be a cross country coach some day.”

McFaul has attended Pittsford schools since the middle of her eighth grade year and she has been a fixture in the running business for the Wildcats. In deciding to pick JCC as her next stop for running and earning an education she said the decision was pretty easy. “They have a very competitive running program at JCC and they are expected to be in the top 10 in the nation next fall,” said McFaul, who is in the top 15 of her graduation class at Pittsford. “They offered me the best deal to run for them and it made the decision easy based on what they offered me to run. They have a very good program and coach Brian Olsen is a real good person to compete for. I really think I made the best decision for me and my future and I am real excited about going to JCC.”

First, McFaul, who is the son of Dale and Emma, will finish her senior year as a Wildcat trackster and she is hoping both the relay team and herself will be able to get back to the state meet. “I met some of the girls I will run with next season and I know what to expect,” said McFaul, whose father owns and operates Malmac Tool here in the Hudson industrial park. “It is going to be a real challenge and a great opportunity to run at JCC but I first want to end with a great senior season of track at Pittsford.”

With a very good work ethic that also has McFaul working part-time at the Market House as a cashier look for her to do well this spring and then next fall running for the Jets.

Billington seeks title and record

Last spring Billington had quite a performance at the Division 4 state meet where he finished tied for first and wound up the runner-up in the pole vault. He jumped 14 foot during the season making that height at the regional meet at Hillsdale College two weeks prior to the state meet. Then when he headed to Grand Rapids for the state final meet he again had a great jump going 13′ 11″ to tie for first with a vaulter from Unionville Sebawaing Academy better known as USA. Unfortunately, it was Billington achieving his 13-11 height in three jumps and it took his rival just two jumps to go 13-11. The first tiebreaker criteria is the least misses on the tying jump thus giving the title to the USA athlete. Both jumpers tried for 14-3 but neither was able to reach that height.

“I tied for first last year at the state meet but ended up taking second,” said Billington, who will turn 18 next Thursday. “My goal obviously is to win it all and take first at the state meet this June. Also, I have another goal of breaking the state meet record of 14-5 but I will worry about that height later this year.”

By going 14 foot last season Billington set the Wildcat school record for pole vaulting breaking an old mark of 13-7. “I first began vaulting in seventh grade and both coaches Derek Clark and Mike Burger helped me learn how to do the event,” said Billington. “I then went to a personalized vaulting coach starting two years ago and that has really helped make me even better. Billington has been going to Fort Wayne off and on the past two years working on improving his technique and it has resulted in some high jumps and some attention from colleges. “I am excited to have signed with Indiana Tech and I real familiar with the school since I have been going to Fort Wayne to improve my vaulting. I really think I am going to have a great senior season and then it is on to college.”

Pole vaulting is a dangerous sporting activity and Billington had a real learning experience his sophomore year at Litchfield when he had a rough fall and hurt his back. “The thrill of vaulting is going so high but I do worry about a mistake and falling but it is part of the event and it won’t hold me back,” said Billington, 17, who is just 5-6 and 135 pounds.

He also is a runner and will compete for the Wildcat team this spring in the mile or 1600-meter relay and he will run the 800-meters to help with building his stamina. Billington started going 11 foot as a freshman but didn’t make the state meet as a frosh and was hurt his sophomore season. Last year he was ever so close to winning a state title and will be after that goal this spring. “My goal is to win the individual championship in the pole vault and I would really love to somehow set a new state final meet record breaking that mark of 14-5,” said Billington, who is the son of David and Tonya.

He has played four years of basketball for the Wildcats and also tried football and cross country but track and field and pole vaulting in particular has been his real passion. His training and learning working with pole vault clinician Paul Babbitt on his visits to Fort Wayne could really pay off this spring. If not, he will head to Indiana Tech to continue his education and his love of pole vaulting. His legacy at Pittsford will be left behind with his name on the track and field board with a leap in the pole vault that might takes years, if ever, to be broken.