Red Storm track athlete breaks school weight throw record

Saranac Lake’s Cora Hotchkiss competes in the weight throw competition at a CVAC indoor track and field meet on Jan. 13 at at the SUNY Plattsburgh Fieldhouse. (Provided photo — Joey LaFranca)

SARANAC LAKE — Saranac Lake senior Cora Hotchkiss never expected to break the school’s indoor track and field girls weight throw record.

Why would she? Considering this season was her first time competing in the weight throw event.

But at the Section VII state qualifiers in Plattsburgh this past Saturday, Hotchkiss broke the school record, tossing the 20 pound weight 40 feet on the dot. The previous school record was set by Mia Sanford in 2021 when she tossed the weight 38-4.

Hotchkiss’ throw secured her a spot at the NYSPHSAA Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Ocean Breeze Complex in Staten Island on Saturday, March 2. She will be join Liam Nobles as the lone two Saranac Lake student-athletes competing at the state meet.

“(It’ll be) the biggest meet of my life, it’s going to be a really great experience,” Hotchkiss said. “I’ve heard from my other teammates that it’s a really great place to go to experience it all.”

Saranac Lake's Cora Hotchkiss, left, and Saranac Lake's indoor track and field coach Cy Ellsworth pose with Section VII state qualifiers awards at the SUNY Plattsburgh Fieldhouse on Saturday. (Provided photo)

While Hotchkiss will compete against the best throwers in the state in a little over a week, what makes her record so impressive is that she only started throwing the weight a few months ago — back then, she was only tossing the weight 20 feet.

Hotchkiss said she started competing in the weight throw — an exclusive event to indoor track — to help her with the spinning part of the discus events for the outdoor track season.

“I just happened to be pretty decent at spinning with the weight throw in my hands,” Hotchkiss said. “So we’re going to translate this to discus (in the spring) and potentially get a hammer in my hands too.”

After training alongside Saranac Lake graduate and SUNY Brockport collegiate thrower Mitchell Ellsworth around Thanksgiving weekend, she decided to step up her training.

“(There were) lots and lots of late nights and grinding,” she said. “You’ve got to show up and you’ve got to be in the right mindset to be doing it. You can’t come in with a negative attitude.”

Saranac Lake’s Cora Hotchkiss competes in the weight throw competition at a CVAC indoor track and field meet on Jan. 13 at at the SUNY Plattsburgh Fieldhouse. (Provided photo — Joey LaFranca)

In the first Section VII indoor track meet of the season on Dec. 7, 2023, Hotchkiss tossed the weight 21 feet, placing her ninth out of 17 competitors.

“I had my bad days and I knew I had my bad days and I knew how to fix them,” she said. “I also had my coaches behind me telling me what to improve on and how to improve on it.”

By Jan. 13, Hotchkiss improved her distance by more than 10 feet, tossing the weight 31-10.25 for second place. But when she finally tossed the weight further than any Saranac Lake girls indoor track athlete before, Hotchkiss felt nothing but excitement.

“I ran to my coach — coach (Marla) McGinnis — and I hugged her out,” Hotchkiss said. “All the girls that I competed against were congratulating me and it was just a super big throw.”

Saranac Lake indoor track head coach Cy Ellsworth said Hotchkiss is an example of an athlete that has done everything right and is being rewarded for her effort.

“I have always been super appreciative of how receptive Cora has been to coaching prior to, between and after practice,” he said. “She has taken ownership of her own destiny and she has a great opportunity to smash our section record (40-5) in Staten Island.”

Hotchkiss credited her teammates and coaches as one of the biggest reasons why she was able break the school record.

“This is such a family and a close tight knit group,” she said. “I’ve never felt more welcomed in any of my sports. It’s a team sport, but at the same time it’s very individual. You are always competing against yourself, but also working with a team to compete with each other.”

While Hotchkiss hasn’t announced what she plans on doing next year, she has the potential to be one of 15 members of the Saranac Lake track and field program in the past few season to compete at the next level.

“I definitely have some colleges interested in me and so I’m keeping the doors open,” she said.


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