Amsterdam, Gloversville Cross Country teams split meet

One of the closest cross country meets of the 2014 season took place Tuesday afternoon at Gloversville High School. Both the Amsterdam and Gloversville girls and boys teams navigated a new course, and when the last runner crossed the finish line, the two teams split the Foothills Council southern division contest with the Amsterdam Lady Rams victorious 22-36 and the Gloversville boys on top 24-31.

“It was a different course for sure,” AHS girls coach Stu Palczak said. “We didn’t have a lot of time to get acclimated, but I think both the boys and girls did a nice job.”

The Lady Rams got a boost from freshman Olivia Lazarou who once again jumped out in front and led the girls race from nearly start to finish. Lazarou was in front on a course that took the runners around the soccer fields and across the school grounds and then down on to city streets before returning to the school going around the football field. At previous meets, the course led runners into the hills behind Gloversville high school before looping around the soccer fields. The change had no effect on Lazarou as she was reported as being the first runner through at every checkpoint.

“She looked strong,” said Coach Palczak. “She started strong and did a nice job throughout the race.”

Lazarou’s winning time was 19 minutes and 8 seconds, a minute faster than Gloversville’s Brittany Craven (20:09). Amsterdam’s front runner said she preferred a more rural setting.

“I thought it was a good course,” Lazarou said. “The hills were nice and the flat parts of it. It doesn’t matter, but the woods is really nice. The woods has the feel of cross country, and I like open spaces.”

Amsterdam junior Chantel Dopp (21:50) finished third followed by Gloversville’s Kate Senzio (22:32). AHS then took the next four spots as a pack of runners including Mariah Rackowski (23:11), Emma Gomez (23:20), Natalie Fernandez (23:33), and the Lady Rams only senior running the race Alyssa Turo (23:50) sealing the girls win.

“Alyssa is I think the typical cross country runner,” said Coach Palczak. “She really works hard and is part of our pack that helps us win meets.”

Gloversville held the 9-12 places. Sarah Ambrosino (24:25), Brenna Wooster (24:25:06), Tierney VanDuesen (24:39), and Emily Ambrosino (24:42) helped pace the host team. Amsterdam’s Emily Mead (25:22), and Mikayla Pine (29:35), and Gloversville’s Veronica Peck (26:19) rounded out the finishers. Daylight was getting scarce and the boys race began just as the girls race finished.

The boys race was an even closer contest as the top two runners from both schools kept pace with each other most of the race. Upon returning to the school grounds, Gloversville’s Zack Funk and Jacob Perez put some distance between themselves and AHS front runners John Knack and Teddy Picciocca. Funk sprinted across the line in first with a meet best time of 17:33 followed by Perez (17:40). Amsterdam’s John Knack (18:11), and Picciocca (18:25) were the next to cross.

“Both stepped up big time today,” said Gloversville coach Josh Herod on Funk and Perez. “They’re really going to impress a lot of people in the next couple of weeks.”

Tyler Unislawski (18:32) finished ahead of AHS’ Ryan Kamanu (18:42), his brother Justin Unislawski (18:44) was in front of Amsterdam’s Bill Weinheimer (18:49) rounding out the top eight runners. The meet was one of the closest in the Foothills Council this season.

“I think the boys really ran a good race,” said AHS boys coach Kevin Wilary. “Coming into it they knew it would be tough and it was a close race. They really performed today. I think they’re prepared for sectionals.”

Anthony Hayer (19:15), Chris Hernandez (19:39), Tyler Rulison (20:11), Austin Reese (20:55), and Alex Buck (21:31) competed for Gloversville. Alex Stewart (19:30), Thomas Knack (19:42), Edgar Maldonado (19:44), Antonio Spagnola (24:34), and Reyers Brusoe (26:06) finished strong for Amsterdam.

Both schools await word on who they will face from the northern division in next week’s Foothills Council crossover meets.

Top finishers for the modified race included Corey Motyl (13:09), and Sam Kaminski (14:08) for Amsterdam, and Alexander Roice (13:24) and Rhea Winter (14:06) for Gloversville. The younger runners could follow in the footsteps of varsity athletes like Gloversville’s top girls finisher Brittany Craven.

“She’s coming back strong,” said Coach Herod on Craven. “She’s coming around and very determined. She could turn some heads in coming weeks.”

That determination could be seen even as the meet was over. With the moon rising into the sky, Brittany Craven was still out on the course training for her next race.

Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.