Written on the right arm of Queensbury cross country runner Emily Atamanchuk were the initials “NGU” which stand for “Never Give Up”. The sophomore standout took that to heart Monday afternoon, winning the varsity girls race and leading the Queensbury varsity girls team to a first place finish in the Foothills Council Championships at Saratoga State Park. Before the day was through, both the Queensbury girls and boys varsity teams would claim title wins.
“We started off at a decent pace, a bit slower than what I’m used to,” said Atamanchuk. “When I got to the bottom of the hill at Ferndell I started hearing people cheering Sherri’s (Metcalf) name and Olivia’s (Lazarou) name and that pushed me. I was telling myself ‘never give up.’”
Atamanchuk was locked in a dual for first place with teammate, senior Sherri Metcalf and Amsterdam’s Olivia Lazarou. Atamanchuk (18:26.16) crossed the finish line less than nine seconds ahead of Metcalf (18:35.31) and Lazarou (18:35.62) who were side by side down the final stretch before the finish line.
Metcalf’s second place effort was crucial in the Queensbury win, but the senior had only accolades for her teammate and credited her opponents’ effort as well.
“If it hadn’t been for Emily we wouldn’t have done as well as we did,” Metcalf said. “Emily and I stayed together for about a mile and a half. Olivia Lazarou put up a good fight.”
Lazarou was aiming for a better time than her 18 minutes and 20.14 seconds she posted at last year’s Section 2 Class B championships at Saratoga State Park. The sophomore front runner for the Lady Rams will have another shot at a better time when the Section 2 cross country championships return to Saratoga on November 6.
“I had a solid race,” Lazarou said. “It wasn’t my best but I know I’ll be back and I will be ready. It was me and the two Queensbury girls for much of the race. They were together then they separated. They ran really well. It’s good to have someone there to push me.”
The Section 2 championships will feature yet another rematch between Lazarou and the Queensbury girls. Atamanchuk finished 26th in last year’s Class B race with a time of 19:54.47 Metcalf finished eighth only one spot behind teammate Alexis Bartlett, who like Lazarou qualified for the NYSPHSAA championships last year.
“She battled the Queensbury girls like she did before,” Amsterdam coach Stu Palczak said of Lazarou. “This Saturday and next Friday they will battle it out again and I can’t wait to see it.”
Queensbury placed five runners in the top ten. Emma Demboski (19:01.57) placed sixth, Bartlett (19:31.00) finished eighth, and junior Emma Hayes (19:39.20) placed tenth. The Lady Spartans will be aiming for a return trip to the state championships at next weeks sectional meet, and perhaps another memory that Metcalf, a senior who has enjoyed an outstanding career, will have to reflect on.
“At states we were the underdog and it was glorious,” Metcalf said. “Our team got together at the end and we smiled and cried together.”
Lazarou has also set her sights on a return to states. She could one day have some company from one of her teammates. Eighth grader Kayla Sondrup (21:36.5) finished 29th and was honored in the top three among the freshman girls. With Lazarou as a clear front runner for Amsterdam, the Lady Rams will be looking for a solid number two with Chantel Dopp graduating in June. But, with Sondrup’s times showing consistent improvement, perhaps the torch has already been passed.
“In the past two weeks she’s started to show the promise we knew she could,” Coach Palczak said of Sondrup. “She’s going to have the type of career just like Chantel did.”
Dopp (22:07.61) finished 34th, followed by freshman Samantha Kaminski (25:24.64), junior Mikayla Pine (27:11.10), sophomore Kayla Dzikowicz (27:58.20), and freshman Dahlia Quinones (28:47.25). Overall, the Lady Rams turned in a sixth place finish. Amsterdam also had top 25 finishes in the modified girls race from Skylar Grybos (14th), Gabby Maroto (21st), and Sydney Szcepanik (22nd).
“Sixth place is good,” Coach Palczak said. “We’re focused on everyone getting their personal bests. The new kids are progressing.”
The Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots featured some new faces to their team as well. Junior Celina Onzo turned in a top ten finish in the girls varsity race finishing sixth with a time of 19:24.62. The Lady Patriots also had the top freshman in Gabrielle Larsen, who crossed the line in 14th posting a time of 20:03.91, best among all freshman girls. Broadalbin-Perth finished third with 84 points, behind only South Glens Falls (72 points) led by Regina Rosati’s (19:01.57) fourth place finish, and Queensbury with 26 points. The goal for BPHS however remains unchanged.
“We want to get back to states,” BPHS senior Cadey Nolan said. “We didn’t have our best race today. We like to stay together and our pack is tight. Our goal is to win sectionals.”
Nolan (21:38.71) followed Onzo, Mackenzi Dezolt (19:46), and Larsen finishing in the top thirty runners. Jordyn DeNeuville (21:41.89), Renee Bellinger (23:19.96), and Joanna Tavolaro (24:45.60) rounded out the field for Broadalbin-Perth. Jessie Brooks finished in the top 25 for the Lady Patriots in the junior varsity race.
Amsterdam boys finish eighth
Senior Gabe Fernandez was the first across the finish line for an Amsterdam boys varsity team that posted 190 points for an eighth place finish overall. Fernandez posted a time of 17:36.64 good for 21st out of 65 competitors. Sophomore Ryan Kamanu (18:20.99) was next followed by senior Will Weinheimer (18:55.52), senior Jon Knack (19:28.64), senior Edgar Maldonado (19:39.21), sophomore John Companion (19:54.63), and seventh grader Trevor Dzikowicz (20:03.53). Amsterdam also had a top ten finish from Jake Reed (9th) among the freshman boys, and Corey Motyl (6th) in the modified boys race.
“The boys ran great,” Amsterdam coach Kevin Wilary. “We’re focused on improving our times. We looked good, and strong, and we’re looking forward to sectionals and having our best times.”
Queensbury took the boys varsity title with 27 points led by a first place effort by junior Ethan Carey (15:24.73). The Spartans posted four of the top five times with Kevin Bouyea (16:05.50), Antonio Manzella (16:18.20), and Cody Metcalf (16:22.42) finishing third through fifth. Glens Falls’ sophomore Chris Hughes took second place with a 15:57.41 time. Glens Falls was second in the boys varsity race with 55 points. The Broadalbin-Perth boys varsity team totaled 172 points good for fifth place.
Senior Alex Hitrick (17:15.96) was the top runner for BPHS in 15th, followed by Lance Jennings (18:03.95). Wyatt Couperus (18:48.63), James Mosher (18:59.99), Jacob Mosher (19:23.95), Devin Becker (20:46.96), and Evan Smith (20:52.90).
Amsterdam will host the Schodack Island Invitational this Saturday. Both the girls and boys teams will be in action against some of the top teams in the state in preparation for next weeks’ Section 2 championships.