It can never be said that Jon Knack does not have the will to win. A senior in perhaps his last competition for the Amsterdam High School boys varsity track and field team was the Rams’ lone entry in the pentathlon event, and the team’s only competitor in the final event of the night, the pentathlon 1500 meter run at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section 2 Group 2 Championships at Knox Field in Johnstown on Wednesday. Hanging in the balance was a goal that the Amsterdam track and field program had set since the start of the season.
As the pistol sounded to start the race, Knack immediately went for the lead and kept the pace over the first three laps. With less than 100 meters to run, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s Andy Breton passed Knack, and the goal for the moment appeared to slip away. But, as the sun faded over the horizon, Jon Knack didn’t. Somehow, some way, Knack found the will and the courage to push himself forward and take the lead again with less than 10 meters to go. Knack finished .16 seconds better than Breton to win the race and catapult himself to a fifth place finish in the pentathlon. It made all the difference. Knack’s win meant that the Amsterdam boys finished in second place with 99 points, only .17 points better than Averill Park (98.83 points), and the Amsterdam boys reached their goal of bringing home a team plaque.
“I didn’t want anyone to beat me,” Knack said. “When he (Breton) passed me that’s what drove me on. I went all year without losing the 1500 meter and I wasn’t going to start now.”
Knack had been part of the Amsterdam boys track and field team since the seventh grade, but had never quite found his niche. Wednesday night in the pentathlon, Knack was like a veteran who knew in what event he belonged. Knack ran 4:38.39 in the 1500, and scored 2,144 points in the pentathlon.
“Who would have thought that John Knack’s place in the pentathlon would make he difference,” Amsterdam coach Kevin Wilary said. “We put a lot on our kids today and they really responded.”
Amsterdam placed several athletes in multiple events at the championships among them were junior Kevon Boucaud and senior Omahri Sturdivant. The pair scored points in five events for AHS with Boucaud setting personal bests in the 200 meter (22.76 seconds), and 400 meter (51.36) runs. All of it happened during windy conditions that some athletes stated pushed them into different lanes during races.
“The wind was bad today, but it didn’t effect me,” Boucaud said. “I had a personal record in the 200 meter and the open 400 meter.”
Boucaud also added a win in the 100 meter dash with a time of 11.18 seconds, and finished second in the long jump with a leap of 21 feet, 2.75 inches. Boucaud also reached a goal of making it to the state qualifiers.
“I’m very happy,” Boucaud said. “For state qualifiers my main focus is breaking 11 seconds in the 100 meter and for our four by four relay team to qualify for nationals, we are only one second away.”
The Amsterdam boys relay team was the last event before Knack’s heroic dash. Michael Johnson, Ryan Kamanu, Mikey Gomez and Gabe Fernandez were in the lineup for Amsterdam and the team kept a solid pace crossing the line in 3:30.38 to give the AHS boys a much needed win. It was the same group that also won the 4×800 meter relay in 8:23.70.
“It was a very competitive race,” said AHS sophomore Ryan Kamanu after the 4×800 meter event. “We had a good pace and good rhythm and thought about a record in the 4×800 meter. It was possible if we all had our best day. It was windy and it pushed me from lane one to lane three. It took a lot out of us but, we’re ready to go for the next one.”
The win in the boys 4×400 meter relay gave Amsterdam three wins overall in the relays among both the AHS boys and girls teams. The only relay where AHS did not place in the top six was the 4×100 meter boys team of Angel Sanchez, Gabe Fernandez, Adam Tatun, and Louis Fedullo that barely missed with a seventh place finish. But, Amsterdam scored in 11 events putting up plenty of points.
Sturdivant was first in the triple jump with a total distance of 44’2”, he finished second to Boucaud in the 200 meter dash (23.17), and in the 400 meter run (51.37), and was third in the long jump with a distance of 20′,11.5”. Gehrig Garner was fourth in the high jump (5’8”), Michael Johnson placed fifth in the 110 meter hurdles (17.22 seconds), and Edgar Maldonado finished sixth in the discus throw (119’10”).
Also among Amsterdam’s best included Mkey Gomez (17th- 400 meter run), Gabe Fernandez (8th- 800 meter), Ryan Kamanu (10th- 800 meter), John Companion (16th- 800 meter), Timmy Kline (17th- 1600 meter), Trevor Dzikowicz (14th- 3200 meter), Michael Johnson (8th- 400 meter hurdles), Louis Fedullo (10th- high jump), Alezey Rivera (11th- triple jump), Jah’leel Muhammed (13th- shot put, 16th- discus throw), and Austin Brock (22nd- shot put).
Heading into sectionals everyone on the AHS team agreed that bringing home a plaque was a goal. Thanks to the depth of a Rams team capable of scoring in nearly every event, it’s now a reality.
“A second place finish and bringing home a plaque is great,” Coach Wilary said. “Guys like John Knack, Mikey Gomez and Michael Johnson stepped up and we were scoring points all over. Everybody did what they had to do today. They work hard, and the depth we have really helped us.”
And it’s that depth that will return to competition at the state qualifying meet on June 2-3 at Shenendehowa High School. With athletes like Kevon Boucaud, Omahri Sturdivant, Gabe Fernandez, and a versatile cast of talented teammates, the possibility of once again making an appearance in nationals is one step closer.