AHS cross country teams compete at BH-BL Invitational

The Amsterdam boys and girls cross country teams were among over 80 teams and more than 2000 athletes to compete on Saturday in the 35th annual Burnt Hills- Ballston Lake Invitational held at Saratoga State Park in Saratoga Springs, NY. The Rams and Lady Rams competed at the modified, junior varsity and varsity races against teams from Section 2 and across the state. Junior Ryan Kamanu, and freshman Kayla Sondrup turned in team best finishes for AHS in the varsity races.

Sondrup leads the way for Lady Rams

There was a familiar face missing from the Lady Rams lineup. Lady Rams standout Olivia Lazarou was in Verona, NY for the 13th annual Verona-Verona Sherill (VVS) Invitational where she finished fourth in the group 2 race on the VVS High School’s 3.1 mile course with a time of 20:05.04. With Lazarou’s absence, the Lady Rams needed someone to take charge and be the front runner. Sondrup stepped in, admirably finishing the 4908 meter course with a time of 21 minutes, 26.08 seconds, good for 103rd place in the crowded division 3 girls varsity race.

“I’m very happy,” said Sondrup when asked about her finish on Saturday. “I wanted to try and get 20 minutes. I knew that once I was by Lauren (Santiago) that I wanted to keep that pace. She’s been big competition for me this year.”

Both Sondrup and Santiago have been among the top finishers for the Lady Rams during Foothills Council dual meets this season. Sondrup is in her second year on the AHS varsity, while Santiago, a sophomore and a sprinter for the AHS girls varsity track and field team, is in her first year running cross country. Santiago and Lazarou attended The Running School in the Catskills to work on their technique and endurance for the high school sports season. Meanwhile, Sondrup worked out on her own during the summer to prepare for running in events like the BH-BL Invitational.

“Lauren and I went back and forth getting ahead of each other during the race,” Sondrup said. “Coach (AHS coach Stu Palczak) told me to get a gap on her because she’s a sprinter. Once I did then I tried to stay with that gap.”

Sondrup’s effort helped the Lady Rams earn a 22nd place finish with 587 points, and stay ahead of Foothills Council rival Gloversville, that was led by Daley Jo Christman’s (20:43.04) time. Santiago was the next to cross the line for Amsterdam with a time of 21:43.57, good for 116th place. She was followed by eighth graders Brook Marshall (22:12.75), Gaby Maroto (23:17.65), and Sydney Szczepanik (24:38.47). Senior Kayla Pine (27:04.56), and junior Kayla Dzikowicz (28:18.33) completed the field for the Lady Rams.

Lazarou wasn’t the only one mising from the Lady Rams lineup, freshman Skylar Grybos was out due to an injury she suffered in a dual meet two weeks earlier. Grybos was in attendance at the meet on Saturday and supported her teammates, cheering them on from the sidelines along the course.

“It’s been especially hard since Skylar is out,” Sondrup said. Grybos hopes to be cleared to run in time for the Foothills Council championships that will also be held at Saratoga State Park on Monday, October 24.

Champlain Valley Union High School won the Division 3 girls varsity race with 62 points. Niskyauna was the top Section 2 school finishing second led by junior Abigail Spiers (18:17.28) fifth place finish.

Eva Scott, a junior with the host school Burnt Hills -Ballston Lake Lady Spartans was the best Section 2 runner in the girls Div. 3 race with a second place effort in 17:53.00. South Glens Falls senior Regina Rosati (18:20.30) came across the line in sixth as the top Foothills Council runner.

Kamanu is first across the line for AHS boys

Ryan Kamanu has been the team leader for the Amsterdam boys varsity team this season, and Saturday’s event was no exception. The junior completed the Saratoga State Park course with a time of 17:56.90 good for 126th in the boys varsity Division 3 race. Kamanu though was anticipating a better time.

“Unexpected,” Kamanu said when asked about his race. “It just didn’t go as I imagined. The goal was 17:30, and I missed that by better than twenty seconds. The start was difficult, but the finish was easier and the last mile made up for the first.”

There’s more to the Saratoga State Park course than just hills and flat terrain, and that made the distance harder to traverse. Something that Kamanu and his teammates will be better prepared for when the team returns for the Foothills Council championships on October 24th.

“There were rocks,” Kamanu said. “Everytime you stepped on one it would roll. Next time I’ll know what to expect.”

The Amsterdam boys scored 725 points, good for 25th place. Following Kamanu in order of finish were; senior Antonio Natole (18:47.47), eighth grader Trevor Dzikowicz (19:23.32), junior John Companion (20:09.69), ninth grader Daniel Bublak (20:54.16), and sophomore Marcos Santiago (21:18.42). Bublak was aided by members of the AHS varsity girls team, in particular Kayla Dzikowicz and Lauren Santiago who shouted encouragement to Bublak from along the course when the first year varsity runner pulled up with cramps less than fifty yards from the finish. Bublak continued on and completed the course.

The Rams entered two runners in the junior varsity race. Freshman Nick Rodecker (26:00.13), and sophomore Lucas Tepan (27:13.24) competed for Amsterdam. Three members of the Amsterdam modified squad also competed on Saturday. Chaun J. Ramos (13:03.07), Errol Quinones (13:18.80), and Syed Hussain (15:58.59) completed the course for Amsterdam.

“We have two races on this course before sectionals,” Amsterdam coach Kevin Wilary said. “It’s always a good place to see where we are as we get ready for sectionals.”

Burnt Hills- Ballston Lake won the Division 3 varsity boys race with 57 points. Sophomores Tyler Berg (15:33.84), Evan Brennan (15:38.12), and Aidan Gilooley (15:49.99) all turned in top ten finishes to lead the host Spartans.

AHS girls junior varsity and modified results

The Amsterdam girls junior varsity team finished 19th with 517 points led by Natalia Quinones time of 24:46.33. Gabby Feliciano (25:17.71), Megan Close (25:50.34), Emma Kelly (26:48.66), and Dalia Quinones (27:11.88) rounded out the order of finish for the Lady Rams.

In the girls modified event Amsterdam totaled 411 points for an 18th place finish. Josephine Smith led Amsterdam with a time of 14:26.45 for 57th place. Kathryn Kowalczyk (15:21.38) also posted a top 100 finish. Jayla McGaffin (16:02.49), Jessica Holloway (16:15.44), Brenna McNamara ((16:23.01), Taylor Massaro (16:38.09), Sierra Goodson (16:56.51), and Taylor Smith (17:03.16) completed the course for Amsterdam.

“Our goal was to get a bearing on where we are right now and what we need to improve on,” Amsterdam coach Stu Palczak said.

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.