Foothills Council crowns top cross country runners

Gloversville’s Alex Bielli and Scotia Glenville’s Daken Broadhead were the top girls and boys finishers at the 2014 Foothills Council varsity cross country championships held on Monday afternoon at Saratoga State Park.

The three hour event crowned the top finishers in the girls and boys varsity, junior varsity and modified programs. Participants included the high schools of Amsterdam, Broadalbin-Perth, Gloversville, Johnstown, Scotia-Glenville, Queensbury, Schuylerville, Glens Falls, South Glens Falls and Hudson Falls. The varsity race featured 121 runners completing the course with Bielli and Broadhhead taking the top spots.

“It was a tough course,” said Bielli, a Gloversville senior in her first year with the Lady Huskies cross country team. “Coach Herod told me to get a fast start and get good position. Start out strong so I could finish strong.”

Bielli’s winning time was 17 minutes and 56.11 seconds, better than a half minute over second place finisher Sherri Metcalf of Queensbury with a time of 18:30.28. Bielli had run only a week before on the Saratoga course.

“It wasn’t much different,” said Bielli. “I did better on the hills this time.”

Finishing in third place in the girls varsity race was Schuylerville’s Ashley Watson fresh off her victory against Amsterdam last week in a cross over meet at Bob’s Trees in Galway. Watson hadn’t competed at the rural Galway course since she was on the Lady Black Horses modified team.

“This time it was double,” said Watson commenting on the difference in the distance from modified to varsity. “When I got to the hills I just took it as hard as I could and kept moving faster the second time around.”

Watson, had to compete with front runners like Bielli and Amsterdam’s Olivia Lazarou as well as the talented packs of Queensbury and Broadalbin-Perth. Her focus was on the course ahead.

“I focus on looking ahead and getting ahead of the person in front of me,” said Watson, a sophomore who comes from a family of runners.

“She’s a phenomenal runner,” said Schuylerville coach Kevin Embledge. “She comes from a family of runners and her sister was a runner here. She’s a hard worker who’s family knows a lot about running. I knew she would do that well. Her goal was to stay with the front girls and beat them if she could. She’s a natural.”

Queensbury’s Alexis Bartlett (18:43.52) finished fourth, Amsterdam’s Olivia Lazarou (18:53.52) was fifth and Bartlett’s teammate Kathryn Ackner (19:08.76) was sixth helping the Lady Spartans claim the varsity girls title with 34 points. Schuylervillle took second with 73 points and the Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots were third with 84 points. BPHS had faced Queensbury is a cross over meet last week at the Saratoga Biatthlon Club and the Lady Spartans handed the Lady Patriots their only Foothills Council loss of the season. BPHS coach Jeff Richards commented on that race before Monday’s meet.

“If the girls truly believe we could beat Queensbury then we need to get our pack better,” said Richards. “Sarah Naple was our top finisher that day and if we could of split up their pack we could have beat them. Queensbury is an A school and a quality program. Our bigger goal is sectionals.”

Freshman Jordyn DeNeuville (19:47.88) was the Lady Patriots top runner. The 17-19 spots also belonged to BPHS with Sarah Naple (20:06.87), Coreena Monroe (20:09.51), and Mackenzie DeZolt (20:10.73).Junior Cady Nolan (20:41.62), and seniors Victoria Opalka (20:44.84), and Alexandria Opalka (20:45.04) took the 22-24 places. Both DeNeuville and DeZolt were honored as top ten freshman finishers along with Lazarou, Bartlett, and Gelns Falls’ Sarah Burton (19:24.55) and Johnstown’s Julia Sarullo (21:38.95).

The Queensbury boys were tops in the varsity team competition with 41 points, but Scotia- Glenville’s Daken Broadhead gained the top spot overall with a time of 16:10.54.

“I try to focus on getting out in front and then pushing the pace and staying in front,” said Broadhead on his strategy. “I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was up there in front with some good competition. I didn’t know what would happen, and you never know what’s going to happen until it does.”

South Glens Falls’ Matt Jeenkins (16:17.76) was second to the finish. Queensbury’s Ethan Carey (16:33.40) was third for the Spartans. Broadheads’ teammate Grant Norton( 16:39.60) was fourth helping the Tartans to second place with 67 points, and South High’s Dylan Davies (16:55.11) was fifth.

Gloversville seniors Zack Hayes (17:01.32), and Zach Funk (17:02.09) earned seventh and eighth place finishes and helped the Huskies to a third place team finish with 74 points. Broadalbin-Perth junior Alex Hitrick (17:09.69) was the Patriots top runner in tenth. Patriots’ Lance Jennings (18:38.21) was among the top ten freshman along with Amsterdam’s Ryan Kamanu (18:56.29), and Johnstown’s Gabe Cole (20:06.30).

The day began at 3pm with the junior varsity girls and then boys races. Queensbury’s Laura Kenyon (20:44.66) won the girls race. Broadalbin-Perth’s Joanna Tavolaro (22:46.21) finished eleventh. The boys race was won by Queensbury’s Aaron Messina (17:41.43).

In the modified contests’ Schuylerville’s Ethan Birch (11:44.93) came in first for a Queensbury boys team that took the title with 44 points. Schuylerville took second with 54 points, and Broadalbin -Perth led by Tyler Henderson’s (11:49.33) fifth place overall finish came in third with 62 points. The Amsterdam boys team finished seventh with 163 points led by Cory Motyl (12:15.39) in ninth place. Johnstown eighth grader Mark Cwiakala (12:44.45) was 18th, and Gloversville’s Alek Roice (13:57.72) was 32nd.

On the girls side Schuylerville’s Sunni LaBounty won with a time of 12:32.82. Her teammate Emma Grace O’Rourke (12:36.64) was second followed by BPHS runners Gabriella Larsen (12:49.76) in third, and Kyrsten Palmer (12:55.16) in fourth. Julia Preston (13:24.58) of Johnstown came in sixth, Amsterdam’s Kayla Sandrup (13:26.38) was seventh and Rhea Winter (13:42.56) of Gloversville was eleventh.

The stage is now set for the New York State Section 2 High School Cross Country Championships that will be held on October 31st. All schools will be making a return trip to Saratoga State Park.

(Photos by Scott Mulford)

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.