Athletes set sights higher at AHS – BPHS track meet

It was another close “photo finish” for hurdlers David Graveley of Amsterdam and Jake Coveney of Broadalbin-Perth. At this past Saturday’s Kiwanis Bi County track and field meet, Graveley and Coveney matched each other stride for stride as they cleared the last hurdle and neared the finish line in the boys 400 meter event. Coveney came out a fraction of a second in front. At Tuesday’s Foothills Council league opening meet at BPHS, Graveley and Coveney were at it again in the both the 400 meter and 110 meter hurdles. On the girls side, Amsterdam’s Olivia Lazarou was in top form in the AHS girls distance events, and dueled with BPHS’ Celina Onzo in the 1500 meter run. Both Graveley and Lazarou factored in the Amsterdam victory, 98-43 for the boys, and 75-66 for the girls, yet the meet was also about many young athletes setting their sights on achieving goals in the present and future.

His top rival

“David (Graveley) didn’t want to lose,” AHS boys coach Kevin Wilary said. “He always wants to win the 110 hurdles. What impressed me the most about his 110 hurdles is that he came away with a personal best.”

Graveley’s time of 14.70 seconds was just ahead of BPHS’ Jake Coveneys’ time of 15.00. Graveley also took first in the 400 meter hurdles with a time of 56.20 seconds ahead of Coveney’s 56.70 seconds. Racing against his top rival was plenty of incentive for Graveley.

“I was really determined,” Graveley said. “I wanted to prove that I was at the same level. He’s (Coveney) my favorite competition. We like going against each other.”

Graveley’s pair of wins scored for Amsterdam. Coveney earned a first place finish in the high jump and second in the triple jump to add to his pair of seconds in the hurdles, scoring for the Patriots.

Her goal: setting a school record

Amsterdam freshman Olivia Lazarou missed Saturday’s Bi County meet, but she hasn’t missed a step since coming off a successful cross-country season, becoming the first Amsterdam Lady Rams runner to make it to the state championships and the Section 2 winning team. Lazarou followed that with a successful indoor track campaign and was true to form on Tuesday afternoon helping the Lady Rams to win in the 1500 meter run, the 3000 meter run, and anchoring the winning 4×800 meter relay team. Lazarou has set a big goal for at least one of those events.

“For this year in the 1500 meter run I want to break the school record,” Lazarou said.

Lazarou’s time of 5 minutes, 27.03 seconds was faster than BPHS’ Jordyn DeNeuville’s second place time of 5:44.69, and Mackenzie Dezolt’s third place of 5:50.62. Lazarou is also looking to improve in her other distance events as well.

“For the two-mile I definitely want to do better than I did during indoor track,” she said. “I need to be better in the 800 meter. My split times were better in the 4×800, but my start-ups have to be faster.”

The only race where Lazarou didn’t finish in the top two was the 800 meter. That was won by Lady Patriots’ Celina Onzo, who had won the same event at the Bi County Meet.

A versatile athlete

Throughout most of the girls 800 meter run, Onzo was not out in front, but as the lead pack of Amsterdam’s Lazarou, and newcomer Emma Patrei, and Onzo separated from the rest, Onzo stayed close in stride with her top competitors. Rounding the final turn on the last lap before the finish, Onzo sprinted to the lead and then out-kicked Lazarou and Patrei to the finish.

“Celina is someone we’re trying to figure out where she is best suited,” said BPHS head coach Jeff Richards. “She’s a tough runner and the 800 meter suits her best. She will also be learning the 2000 meter steeplechase. She’s one of the most versatile athletes.”

Onzo picked up a second place finish in the 400 meter dash behind AHS’ Lauren Santiago, and was also part of the Lady Patriots winning 4×100 meter relay team. Her teammate Coreena Monroe ran the anchor leg of that race as well as the winning BPHS’ 4×400 meter relay. Monroe however, has set her eyes on a goal in another event, hurdles.

Make it to the states

A year ago, Coreena Monroe was favored to win at sectionals in 400 meter hurdles and make it to the state championships, but finished just short of her goal. Now, she’s more determined than ever to get there in her senior year.

“Coach Calderone makes me practice a lot so I get over the hurdles fluidly instead of like a rainbow motion,” said Monroe, who accurately described her victory in the 400 meter hurdles with a time of 1 minute 112 seconds. “I keep it in my stride motion. I want to win sectionals this year and make it to states.”

Monroe also credited Coach Calderone and her teammates for the relay teams’ success. At Saturday’s meet, the hand-offs were crucial in the BPHS’ girls relay teams wins especially on the final leg where Monroe’s quickness made a difference at the end. Tuesday was no exception, as the Lady Patriots executed their hand-offs and their competition wasn’t as clean.

“I always get the hand off early,” said Monroe. “Coach Calderone wants us to run 110, so we make it so I can get a good exchange as soon as it starts.”

Monroe’s efforts were well noted by BPHS coach Jeff Richards.

“Coreena had an exceptional meet,” said Richards. “I put her in the anchor position in relays because I know she will excel. She will come through. She was favored to win at 400m hurdles last year but didn’t. She’s hungry to win it in her senior year.”

Monroe was also part of the BPHS girls cross-country team that only two years ago reached the state championships. A trip to states in track and field will be a first for the determined senior.

A legacy for the team

A trip to states would be nothing new for another athlete, Amsterdam’s Izaiah Brown, whose only goals in his senior year are those for his team.

Brown had another standout meet for the Rams coming though with wins in the 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, 400 meter run, the high jump, and anchored the winning 4×400 meter relay team. But, when asked about any goals that he had set for this track season, Brown could only think of his team.

“I want to make sure that the legacy I leave behind for this team is that they can accomplish anything,” said Brown. “Who would have thought that coming from a small town like Amsterdam that I could get as far as I have. I want them to know that they can accomplish their goals and go as far as they can. Maybe we can bring Amsterdam back. I want this team to find their niche and always be at their best.”

Amsterdam’s coach Kevin Wilary was impressed with his team’s efforts.

“The boys did a fantastic job especially in the track events,” Wilary said. “We were pretty dominant. I saw a lot of AHS jersey finishing one-two-three.”

Andrew Druziak, Pablo Aldomovar, and Antonio Mercado finished one-two-three in the 800 meter run. The Amsterdam boys also got first place finishes from Gabe Fernandez (1600 meter), Austin Brock (pole vault), Omari Sturdiant (triple jump), and the 4×800, 4×400, and 4×100 relay teams. BPHS also picked up first place points from Jeff Derwin (discus throw), Doug Sutter (shot put), and Alex Hitrick (3200 meter run). Their teammates on the Lady Patriots also got first place efforts from Lexi Eipp (triple jump), Danielle Landers (discus throw), and Chelsea LeBlanc in the shot put and high jump.

The Amsterdam girls also got first place finishes from Brenda Santana (200 meter dash), Madison Janetsky (long jump), Lauren Santiago (400 meter run), the 4x800m relay team of Edena Sanchez, Emma Patrei, Emma Gomez and Olivia Lazarou, and Cassandra Robataille in the 110 hurdles and the pole vault, the later of which was significant.

“Cassandra Robataille set a personal record in the pole vault today,” said AHS girls coach Stu Palczak. Robataille’s height of eight feet tied BPHS’ Joanna Tavolaro for the top spot. “We’re happy to start the Foothills Council with a win today. We knew the girls meet would be close and we were confident. It turned out the way we hoped.”

Both the Amsterdam boys and girls squads are back in action on Thursday afternoon against Johnstown. Start time for the meet at AHS is scheduled for 4:30pm.

(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.