The Amsterdam High School boys and girls cross country teams held their first home meet at their home away from home; Bob’s Trees in Galway on Tuesday afternoon. And as the Sun eventually began to shine both teams came away with wins over new conference rival Johnstown with the girls victorious 22-37, an the boy’s winning 17-44.
“I think it’s nice to have local rivalries,” AHS varsity girls coach Stu Palczak said when asked about the advantages of playing in the Foothills Council. “We are familiar with the venues and the kids know kids from other teams. That makes it fun.”
The Lady Rams navigated their home turf for 2014 very well placing seven in the top ten finishers. Leading the way was freshman Olivia Lazarou with a time of 18 minutes and 45 seconds. Lazarou had also placed first a week earlier against BroadlbinPerth High School at another new course at the Saratoga Biathlon Club.
“Olivia has proven to be successful front runner,” Palczak said. “Her take off helps us run strong. She’s done that. The Saratoga Biathlon was a challenging course and we handled it fine.”
Lazarou’s winning time was better than her time against BPHS. Johnstown’s Julia Cirillo (20:57) was more than a minute behind Lazarou. Amsterdam junior Chantel Dopp finished third with a time of 21:11. Eileen Newman (21:57) was next across the finish line for Johnstown and she was followed by three Amsterdam runners: freshman Natalie Fernandez (22:43), sophomore Mariah Rakowski (22:54), and eighth grader Emma Gomez (22:58).
“We do all the little things in practice,” said Chantel Dopp when asked about her team’s success. “The warm ups, the cool downs. All the little things.”
The Lady Rams will have more time to get used to their new home course when Scotia Glenville visits on September 30th. Bob’s Trees scenic landscape will also host the Foothills Council Crossover meet on October 14th.
“I think the next invitationals will be more competitive,” said Palczak. “Scotia Glenville and Gloversville are strong to finish out the season.”
The Amsterdam teams will be running in the Galway Invitational this Saturday at Bob’s Trees, and then next Saturday in Utica at the EJ Hermann Invitational at Proctor Park.
“We’re off to a really good start,” said Dopp. “New competition is going to help us.”
The Amsterdam boys team dominated the top ten finishers with AHS getting five of the first six across the line, and seven out of the top ten.
“They work hard together,” AHS boys varsity coach Kevin Wilary said. “It’s good to have a close pack.”
Teddy Piccoicca (17:43) was first for Amsterdam. John Knack (17:55), and Ryan Kamanu (18:13) were close behind before the first Johnstown runner Cam Roten (18:33) reached the finish. Another trio of Rams, William Weinheimer (18:39), Alex Stuart (19:16), and Edgar Maldonado (19:18) finished the scoring for Amsterdam.
“We have a strong pack,” Wilary said. “And that makes us a good team. Teddy stays with the people in front and he has stepped up to be a good front runner for this team.”
Rounding out the top ten for AHS were Thomas Knack (19:53) for the boys, and seniors Shantel Rivera (23:21), and Alyssa Turo (24:12) for the girls.
The AHS boys improved to 2-0 in the Foothills Council. It was the first Foothills win for the AHS girls.
“I think the biggest advantage of playing in the Foothills is for the girls teams,” Wilary said. “They have more teams to run against.”
When Amsterdam was part of the Big 10 Conference in past seasons, schools such as CBA and Lasalle didn’t have girls teams. Some schools fielded incomplete teams. Schools in the Foothills Council have boys and girls sports teams.
“We get to see some new faces,” Wilary said. “We get to meet new people.”
(Photos by Scott Mulford)