At the beginning of the year, Amsterdam High School cross country standout Olivia Lazarou had three goals: break the 18 minute mark, run in the public high school state championships, and to run in the NY State Federation meet. Her second goal was met last Saturday when she ran at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) championship in Woodbury, NY. Her third goal is now in sight, as she learned recently that she has been selected by NYSPHSAA to run at the New York State Federation championship meet this Saturday at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, NY.
Lazarou will be part of a NYSPHSAA team that includes Section 2 girls high school teams from Saratoga Springs, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Shenendehowa, Guilderland, Colonie, and 2015 NYSPHSAA Class D champion Greenwich. That team will challenge schools from the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL), Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA), and the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS).
“I was excited when I learned I had a second chance to run another race,” Lazarou said. “I’m ready to go and run.”
Lazarou, a sophomore in her third year at the varsity level, enjoyed an outstanding season as part of the Amsterdam High School Lady Rams team by winning all four Foothills Council meets, finishing first against teams from Gloversville, Broadalbin-Perth, Scotia-Glenville, and Johnstown. Lazarou was third behind only Queensbury’s Emily Atamanchuk and Sherri Metcalf at the Foothills Council Championships at Saratoga State Park on October 26. Less than a week later, Lazarou finished first in the Harvest Classic Invitational at Schodack Island, ahead of both Queensbury runners. She capped off the Section 2 season with a second place finish in the girls Class B race at Saratoga State Park behind only Burnt Hills- Ballston Lake’s Eva Scott, and earned her second trip to the NYSPHSAA championships held last Saturday at Monroe Woodbury High School.
Lazarou finished 55th out of 119 runners in the girls NYSPHSAA Class B race with a time of 20 minutes and 34.3 seconds. Her time was faster than the mark she posted at the 3.1 mile Monroe Woodbury course at the Crusader Classic on September 15, 2015.
“My race was solid,” Lazarou said. “It wasn’t my best, but it was a good run.”
Her time back in September was 20:56.0, and the improvement may have factored into the selection process for the Federation meet. The selection committee takes into consideration an athletes performance over the last six weeks of the cross country season.
“There’s two at large bids from sectionals,” Amsterdam cross country coach Kevin Wilary said. “They merge the times of all the runners from all the classes and after the merge only Julia Flower was ahead of her.”
Flower, a senior at Schalmont High School, was the girls Section 2 Class C winner where she posted a time of 18:5.16 and also qualified for the state meet. She received the other at large bid to the Federation meet.
The Girls Section 2 Class B team finished fourth at the NYSPHSAA championships with 434 points behind section team champion Section 1 (248 points). Section 2B champion Burnt Hills- Ballston Lake was third in the team competition behind champion John Jay- Cross River. The Lady Spartans top finisher was Eva Scott, who finished fourth in the NYSPHSAA Class B race. Lazarou was the seventh Section 2 runner to cross the finish line. Making it to the Federation meet is a first for any girl from Amsterdam High School. The only other AHS cross country athlete to qualify for the championships was Jamie Julia back in 2002.
“She’s the first girl from Amsterdam to ever go,” Coach Wilary said. “She wants to finish with a strong time.”
Lazarou’s first goal from the start of the season was to break the 18 minute mark and set a new personal best at the Saratoga State Park course. That’s a goal within reach as she will have several opportunities over the next two years. As for the Federation meet, she’s looking forward to putting an exclamation point on an outstanding season.
“I just want to get out there and finish strong,” Lazarou said.
The girls race on Saturday is scheduled to begin at 12:15pm. The boys race is scheduled for 1pm.