AHS track and field teams impressive in league opening wins

The Amsterdam High School varsity boys and girls track and field teams racked up 27 first place finishes and both posted wins in their Foothills Council league openers Tuesday afternoon at Amsterdam High School against Johnstown. The AHS boys were victorious 111-29, and the girls won 90-50.

Amsterdam was supposed to open the dual meet season at home against Gloversvile last week but the weather’s refusal to act like spring postponed that meet and the Rams and Lady Rams actually saw their first action at the Ken Smith Kiwanis Bi-County Meet at Knox Field this past Saturday. Despite an early morning rain, the clouds that have plagued much of the Section 2 sports schedule finally faded away, and it was “game on” Tuesday afternoon as the Johnstown Sir Bills and Lady Bills track and field teams visited AHS for the first time as league opponents.

“Saturday exceeded expectations,” Amsterdam coach Kevin Wilary said. “There were a lot of great performances today.”

The AHS teams got off to a good start picking up victories in one of the relay events that have been among the strengths for both the boys and girls squads. The Amsterdam boys 3200 meter relay team of Michael Johnson, Mikey Gomez, Ryan Kamanu, and Gabe Fernandez clocked a time of nine minutes, 16.28 seconds in their win, and the Amsterdam girls 3200 meter relay team of Emma Gomez, Edena Sanchez, Kayla Sondrup, and Olivia Lazarou, recorded a time of 10:39.70 in their win despite the cold.

“I don’t mind the weather,” said Lazarou, who also won easily for the Lady Rams in both the 1500 meter and 3000 meter distance runs. “Cross country season helps me because I get to experience a lot of different weather.”

Lazarou wasn’t the only winner in multiple events. The Lady Rams showed their versatility dominating the sprint events as well. Brenda Santana claimed wins in both the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes, Lauren Santiago placed first in the 400 meter run, and Edena Sanchez finished at the top in the 800 meter run. Amsterdam also had some second and third place showings that helped them pick up much needed points. Freshman Emma Gomez was third in the 400 meter run with a time of 1:09.18, and senior Kaitlyn Devine finished second in the 100 meter dash with a time of 13.42 seconds, not far off the pace of Santana’s winning time of 13.21 seconds.

“Kaitlyn Devine really did well today,” Amsterdam coach Stu Palczak said. “Her first year back with us and she did really well.”

Devine was also part of the winning 400 meter relay team along with Santana, Alyssa Kuchis, and one of her AHS basketball teammates, Giuliana Pritchard. Devine showed no ill effects of a sprained ankle that had sidelined her for much of the Amsterdam girls basketball season. On Tuesday, Devine was true to form leading another Lady Rams team, and in addition to scoring points in the sprint and relay events, she also tied fellow senior teammate Cassandra Robataille for first place with a six foot jump in the pole vault.

Both Devine and Robataille helped the Lady Rams earn points in the field events. Robataille tied teammate Kuchis for first place in the high jump along with Johnstown’s Raina Danylak, Santiago was first in the long jump, and Haley Madej placed second in the shot put.

“We continue to improve in the field events,” Coach Palczak said. “It’s important since there are so few dual meets, and we want to win the league, so we have to win every meet.”

The Lady Rams have been getting contributions from even their youngest members. Eighth grader, and the youngest member of the AHS girls team, Kayla Sondrup was part of the winning 3200 meter relay team to start the meet and was a factor at the end of the day picking up second place, and three points in the 3000 meter run giving AHS the top two spots in the event with Sondrup and Lazarou.

“Kayla Sondrup did a nice job today,” Coach Palczak said. “She beat a girl from Johnstown who had beat her in cross country.”

Sondrup was stride for stride with Johnstown’s Aylene Newman for the first three laps of the 3000 meter run, but picked up the pace in the final lap and showed plenty of endurance in breaking away from Newman to earn the second place finish.

“We have people in all events who can score,” said Lazarou after the meet.

The Amsterdam girls took first in 13 events. Also picking up first place points for AHS were Cassandra Robataille in the 100 meter hurdles, and the 1600 meter relay team of Gabby Stanavich, Emma Gomez, Edena Sanchez, and Lauren Santiago. Stanavich was also third in the 400 meter hurdles.

Taking first for Johnstown were Abigail Gottung in the 400 meter hurdles, Abigail Queeney in both the shot put and discus throw, Molly Sear in the triple jump, and Raina Danylak tied for first in the high jump.

The Amsterdam boys were also dominant gathering first place showings in 14 events. AHS swept the sprinting events with Kevon Boucaud’s 11.20 seconds taking first in the 100 meter dash, and his 23.1 seconds the best in the 200 meter run. Omari Strdivant (55.20) earned the top spot in the 400 meter run with teammate Ryan Kamanu (55.50) not far off the pace in second. Gabe Fernandez gave AHS a win in the 800 meter run with a time of two minutes and 13 seconds, and Fernandez was part of the traditionally strong AHS 1600 meter and 3200 meter relay teams.

“It was really cold today,” remarked Fernandez on the less than ideal but playable conditions for the meet. “This was a good start to the season. The key is to try and win every race.”

Fernandez and his teammates did that in every relay against the Sir Bills. Amsterdam’s 3200 meter relay team of Johnson, Gomez, Kamanu and Fernandez got things started with a win, and the 1600 meter AHS relay team of Fernandez, Kamanu, Gomez, and Jon Knack continued the win streak that was capped off by an electric win from the 400 meter relay team of Luis Rodriguez, Jake Smitka, Louis Fedullo, and Adam Tatun, giving the AHS boys a sweep of the relay events.

“Louis Fedullo impressed me in the four hundred meter relay,” Coach Wilary said. “He came from behind against the kid from Johnstown and got us the win.”

The Amsterdam boys dominated in the field events as well getting first place efforts from Gehrig Garner in the high jump, Michael Johnson in the pole vault, Boucaud in the long jump, Sturdivant in the triple jump, and Edgar Maldonado is both the discus throw and the shot put. The Rams also got a first place win from Marcus Santiago in the 110 meter hurdles. Johnson was second, and Jon Knack third in the 400 meter hurdles. Knack also finished third in the 1600 meter run behind teammate Timmy Kline who finished second in the event.

The Johnstown boys got first place efforts from Alexander Quillan in the 1600 meter run, Brandon Mraz in the 3200 meter run, and Erik Frank in the 400 meter hurdles.

The Amsterdam track and field teams will continue their stretch of three meets in one week when they make up the previously postponed dual meet with Gloversville on Thursday at AHS with a start time scheduled for 4:30pm.

“The kids did a fantastic job,” Coach Wilary said. “They are where they should be. At dual meets the kids are going out as hard as they could. They are competitive and really impressed me today.”

After Thursday’s meet the AHS teams will next head to the Niskyuna Warrior Classic on Saturday where they will see their first competition from teams in the always strong Section 2 powerhouse Suburban Council, and teams from other parts of the state. And, according to one Amsterdam competitor, it’s about that time that Amsterdam will be hitting it’s stride.

“I’s usually mid season when we come into our prime,” said AHS senior Gabe Fernandez.

Thursday’s and Saturday’s meets will certainly set the stage then for a showdown on Tuesday, April 19 when the Amsterdam track and field teams visit Broadalbin-Perth High School for a meet that could decide the Foothills Council South Division.

(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.