Lazarou qualifies to run at state cross country championship

Photo by Scott Mulford

It was only a matter of time. Eighteen minutes and 20.14 seconds to be precise. And with that time Olivia Lazarou did something that no other Amsterdam High School girls cross country team member had done before. She qualified for the New York state championships. Lazarou’s fifth place finish in the Girls Class B race Friday at Section 2 Championships at Saratoga State Park was the highlight of the day for Amsterdam cross country teams.

“I really wanted to make states,” said Lazarou, who’s only a freshman at AHS. “I just started out hard and finished strong.”

That strong finish has become characteristic of Lazarou’s game. Her time of 18:20.14 was more than 33 seconds faster than her time at last weeks Foothills Council championships also at Saratoga State Park. She also broke her own personal record by 18 seconds.

“She ran fantastic,” said Amsterdam girls coach Stu Palczak. “I thought she had it with the time she put up last week, but today she definitely had it. She’s the first Amsterdam girl to qualify for states. She ran fantastic.”

Lazarou’s accomplishment comes after Amsterdam’s first season in the Foothills Council. Many of the coaches of the school’s fall sports teams noted that one of the advantages of competing in the new league was the upgrade in competition.

“We knew going in that we would have more competition,” said Coach Palczak. “The girls realized that to stay competitive they would have to work harder and be focused. We finished fourth in the Foothills. Based on where we were a month ago. I’m pleased with the result.”

The Amsterdam Lady Rams finished eighth in the Class B team competition with 238 points and an average time of 21:53.18. They finished ahead of former Big 10 rival Notre Dame Bishop Gibbons and Averill Park, Lansingburgh and Gloversville. Junior Chantel Dopp was the next to cross the finish line for AHS after Lazarou. Her time was 22:07.71. She has one more season to compete for AHS and now has a seasons worth of experience in the Foothills Council heading into her senior year.

“Now that we know what we we will be facing we we can focus on more specific competition,” said Dopp. “Usually the girls work on training everyday and taking it seriously. We try to work together and push each other.”

Sophomore Mariah Rackowski followed Dopp with a time of 22:44.00. The only AHS senior running in the race, Alyssa Turo finished with a time of 23:00.01. Natalie Fernandez (23:14.04), and Emma Gomez (23:26.95) also completed the course for AHS.

“I’m going to miss how close I’ve become to everyone and how supportive the coaches have been,” said Turo after her final race. “I’m so proud of Olivia. She’s just amazing. She’s been telling me all season she wanted to go to states. I’d say to her just keep pushing yourself. She could go three more times.”

Lazarou will travel to SUNY Canton next Saturday morning for the Class B state championship. When her achievement was announced at Friday’s Amsterdam football game with Burnt Hills, it drew an ovation from the crowd. Lazarou has the support of the community and her team.

“My teammates are very supportive,” said Lazarou. “And I love having them as my teammates.”

The Girls Class B race was won by Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s Emily Dingman with a time of 18:10.96. The Lady Spartans also took home the team title with 33 points.

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.