Running with all your heart is nothing new for Celina Onzo. At last June’s track and field championships at Johnstown’s Knox Field, Onzo ran an inspired race in the 800 meter and turned in the Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots team’s only first place finish in leading them to a Section 2 group title over Albany Academy for Girls by a single point. At Friday’s Section 2 cross country championships, Onzo again put all her heart into a race. The junior, in her first year with the BPHS cross country team ran more like a veteran runner with years of experience and finished eighth overall, into a sixth place at-large position, less than three seconds from a place on the Section 2 Class C state team.
“She’s an excellent runner,” Broadalbin-Perth coach Jeff Richards said of Onzo. “I told those three seconds hurt right now but I’m hoping those three seconds will be motivating for her heading into next season.”
Onzo’s eighth place overall time of 19:25.38 was less than three seconds behind Schuylerville senior Julia Freemire (19:22.54) who joined teammate junior Ashley Watson (18:56.26) on the Section 2 Class C girls team. Watson finished third behind Chatham’s Hallie Allen (18:35.03) and race winner Julia Flower (18:15.16) of Schalmont. Chatham won the overall Class C title with 50 points. Schuylerville was second with 84 points and the Lady Patriots came in third overall out of 19 teams with 96 points. The top five runners not on the winning school team make it on the Section 2 team that this year will run for the state title next Saturday at Monroe- Woodbury High School.
Sophomore Mackenzie Dezolt was the next finisher for BPHS after Onzo with a time 20:02.21 and good for eleventh overall in Class C. She was followed by one of the top freshman in the Foothills Council Gabrielle Larsen (20:19.89) who has been one of the top runners for BPHS in her first season on the varsity team. Larsen’s top 20 time was followed by senior Cadey Nolan (21:29.95) who was part of the 2013 team that made it to the state championship meet. Sophomore Jordyn DeNeuville (21:38.29) was next followed by senior Renee Bellinger (23:27.12), senior Mackenzie Frye (24:14.72), sophomore Carley Nolan (24:37.82), sophomore Jessie Brooks (25:58.11), and senior Joanna Tavolaro (27:36.44).
“They definitely competed,” BPHS coach Jeff Richards said. “Our seasonal message was to pull on the same end of the rope. They gave it a good pull today.”
The Broadalbin- Perth boys cross country team also put in a solid effort at Friday’s meet. The Patriots entered as an incomplete team in 2014 with only four runners. Five are needed for a team to score in the team competition and in 2015 the Patriots fielded a team of eight competitors and finished sixth out of 24 teams overall in the Class C race. Senior Alex Hitrick finished 20th out of 193 runners with a time of 17:25.95, six seconds better than his time of 17:31.94 at last years Section 2 race. Hitrick has been instrumental in the improvement of the BPHS team.
“Alex is a leader,” Coach Richards said. “He’s been doing this for six years, and he got the kids out there and running this summer. He’s the reason we have a full team. He’s been a champion for a long time and I’m proud of what he did.”
Hitrick was followed by sophomore Lance Jennings (17:47.29), freshman Wyatt Couperus (18:56.50), senior Noah Marek (19:02.88), freshman James Mosher (19:02.48), and senior Jacob Mosher (19:05.54). Hitrick, Marek and Jacob Mosher led the team all season and were an important reason for its success.
“Noah, Jake and Alex, they are the heart of our team,” Coach Richards said. “They are the best type of character you can have.”
Freshman Devin Becker (20:39.15) and sophomore Evan Smith (21:11.13) rounded out the field for the Patriots who went from an incomplete team a year ago to a sixth place finish this year behind only teams including Class C title winner and Foothills Council foe Glens Falls (80 points), and Schuylerville (fourth place-124 points). Broadalbin-Perth finished with 224 points, ahead of local competitors Fonda-Fultonville (233 points), Fort-Plain-Canajoharie (338 points) and Johnstown (373 points).
“Going from incomplete to a complete team made a difference,” Coach Richards said. “When you’re running for others you run better.”
Hitrick, who had an impact on the program’s future agreed with his coach on having a complete team making a difference.
“Absolutely,” Hitrick said. “This was a great team experience. They gave it their all and that’s what I care about.”