Foothills Council girls cross country championship highlights

The 2016 Foothills Council cross country championships were held Monday at Saratoga Springs State Park in Saratoga Springs, NY. Among the ten high schools vying for a league championship were Amsterdam, Broadalbin-Perth, Johnstown, and Gloversville. There were several outstanding performances, and plenty of highlights from the girls teams.

Lazarou finishes second in girls varsity race

Only a year ago, Amsterdam girls varsity cross country standout Olivia Lazarou challenged Queensbury’s top runners Emily Attamanchuk and Sherri Metcalf as the three of them were separated by mere footsteps headed down the final 100 yard stretch for the finish. Both Attmanchuk and Metcalf finished only seconds ahead of Lazarou in the 2015 Foothills Council Championships with Attamanchuk emerging as the winner in a race also won by the Queensbury girls team. After the race, Metcalf credited Lazarou for “putting up a good fight”. Monday afternoon, Lazarou was ready to put up a good fight once again in the varsity girls race.

Back in 2015, Lazarou ran in the Harvest Classic at Schodack Island State Park the weekend after the league championship, and in that race defeated both Attamanchuk and Metcalf proving that she could win against some of the better runners in New York’s talented Section 2. At the sectional championships the following week, Lazarou improved her time at the Saratoga course by nearly ten seconds, and finished second behind only Burnt Hills- Ballston Lakes’ Eva Scott, proving once again she has what it takes to compete with the top runners. On Monday, a new challenger emerged in South Glens Falls senior Regina Rosati who eventually pulled away from the field and won with a time of 18 minutes, 14.53 seconds for her first Foothills Council title. Lazarou was ten seconds off her time from last year, but a spot up from last year, in second with a time of 18:45.46. Not her best time, but as history as shown, she can improve.

“I didn’t have my best time,” Lazarou said. “But, we have one more time on this course and I’m settling in and figuring things out, and how I will run it next time.”

Lazarou didn’t have any difficulty in getting past a pack of Queensbury runners as she did in 2015, but a much improved Rosati eventually opened up a gap between her and Lazarou that proved to be the determining factor in the race.

“We were all close a little in the beginning but then it started to spread out,” Lazarou said. “I don’t really know where we (Rosati and I) separated, but she had a gap on me and I have to keep that gap closed and stay up there.”

Lazarou and the AHS girls will once again head for the Harvest Classic this Saturday at Schodack Island State Park and then return to Saratoga Springs for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section 2 cross country championships, but this year will be racing against some of the best schools in the section as the Lady Rams jump up to Class A. Awaiting them are the teams from Saratoga Springs and Shenendehowa. The improved competition may give some cause for concern, but for Lazarou it’s something she’s been looking forward to.

“I’m definitely excited,” Lazarou said.

Following Lazarou in Monday’s race was junior Emily Attamanchuk (19:09.71), who led the Queensbury team that won the varsity girls race. Attamanchuk was joined in the top 25 by Emma Demboski (19:53.71), Margret Borgos (19:55.99), Emma Hayes (20:04.77), Lauren Guilfoil (20:18.72), and Eliza Blood (20:27.28) as the Lady Spartans pulled away to win with 45 points.

Johnstown’s Newman finishes fourth in varsity girls race

The runner who probably improved the most among the varsity girls was Johnstown senior Aylene Newman who finished fourth with a time of 19:46.58. It was a significant improvement from her time of 20:24.21 at the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Invitational back on October 15. Johnstown cross country coach Bryan Yager noted one change Newman made that may have made the difference.

“She wore her cleats this time,” Yager said.

Newman and junior Julia Sarullo (20:25.01) gave the Lady Bills two top 25 finishers helping them to a fifth place team finish with 133 points. Sophomore Julia Preston (21:41.56), senior Cassie VanValkenburgh (21:53.04), senior Lindsey Fiore (23:48.13), and junior Lauryn Wilson (24:22.11) rounded out the field for the Lady Bills.

Juliana Geniti (19:48.29) of Scotia- Glenville was the top runner for the Lady Tartans with a fifth place finish. Geniti was one of four SGHS girls to place in the top 25 and helped the Lady Tartans to a second place finish in the girls varsity race with 83 points. Laura Meade (19:57.43), Liz Darling (20:22.01), and eighth grader Delaney Krogh (21:05.03) all were among the top 25 to cross the line.

Onzo places sixth to pace Broadalbin- Perth girls varsity

Broadabin-Perth senior Celina Onzo did not run in the BHBL Invitation to avoid aggravating an injury, but the Lady Patriots front runner was back in action on Monday and showed no signs of injury as she came across the line in sixth place with a time of 19:53.25 to lead BPHS.

“I ran a 19:53,” Onzo said. “I guess my legs were super tight because I haven’t been training for meets, but I’m ready for sectionals.”

Onzo will be aiming for her first trip to states when the Lady Patriots run in the Class C race for the Section 2 championships on November 4t. Only a year ago, Onzo came within three seconds of a trip to states, and will use that fact as motivation for her final run at sectionals.

Sophomore Gabby Larsen (20:05.14) finished 12th, and eighth grader Samantha Murphy (20:26.07) gave BPHS three runners in the top 25. Senior Victoria Laurange (22:56.90), junior Gabrielle Martin (23:00.74), junior Carley Nolan (24:48.69), and junior Jordyn Deneuville (27:13.60) helped the Lady Patriots to a fourth place team finish with 122 points.

The first six runners in the varsity girls race were each from a different Foothills Council school. In facet, all ten varsity girls teams had at least one runner in the top 25. Schuylerville freshman Sunni Labounty (19:57.00) finished ninth, and she was joined by her senior teammate Ashley Watson (20:16.94) who was 16th. Watson will be aiming for her fifth trip to the state championships when Section 2 holds its title runs a week from Friday. Labounty will be looking for her first trip to states.

Gloversville’s Daley Jo Christman (20:07.23) crossed the line in 13th. Her teammate Rhea Winter (21:25.36) was among the top freshman in 28th. Hudson Falls junior Megan Linendoll (20:08.73) was the best for the Lady Tigers in 14th place. Sarah Burton, (20:30.31) a junior from Glens Falls placed 22nd overall.

Lady Rams varsity girls places seventh

The next Amsterdam runner to reach the finish line was Kayla Sondrup (21:21.16), whose time was five seconds faster than her time at the BHBL Invitational. Sondrup was third best among freshman following only Labounty and Glens Falls Katie Culliton (21:18.29). Also contributing to the Lady Rams effort were Gabby Maroto (22:18.39), who was very vocal during the awards ceremony after the race in congratulating her teammates, fellow eighth graders Brook Marshall (23:04.65), and Sydney Szczepanik (23:12.03), senior Makayla Pine (27:06.85), and junior Kayla Dzikowicz (27:16.64).

“We’ve improved since the last time we were here,” Amsterdam coach Stu Palczak said. “But we all need to be faster. We need to raise our level another step to compete with the bigger teams.”

The Lady Rams will be running against those bigger schools from the Suburban Council at the NYSPHSAA Section 2 championships. Amsterdam was without two members of its team for the varsity race. Sophomore Lauren Santiago was not running due to illness, and Skylar Grybos in her first race since injuring her knee more than two weeks ago, was running in the junior varsity race.

Grybos finishes fourth in girls JV run

Skylar Grybos couldn’t wait to get back on the race course. After injuring her knee in a meet against Broadalbin-Perth, the AHS freshman returned to action on Monday and posted a fourth place finish in the girls junior varsity race. Grybos’ time of 22:22.24 was her best effort of the season, and nearly a minute faster than her times against Gloversville and Scotia-Glenville during dual meets.

“It was good,” Grybos said when asked about her race. “It felt different especially up those hills. I thought I did pretty good, especially for someone with a bad knee. As long as I get to run.”

Grybos was honored as one of the top freshman on Monday, and she was joined by teammates Natalia Quinones (24:11.63), and Megan Close (25:36.69), who finished 18th and 25th respectively in the junior varsity race. Gabby Feliciano (25:37.83), Dalia Quinones (26:58.77), and Emma Kelly (27:17.24) helped the Lady Rams JV place third place behind winner Queensbury, with 81 points.

The Amsterdam modified girls placed fifth with 134 points. Josephine Smith (15:50.19) led the young squad in 34th. Jessica Holloway (16:06.81), Kathryn Kowalczyk (16:12.13), Brenna McNamara (16:35.08), Jayla McGaffin (16:40.92), Sierra Goodson (17:11.02), Destiny Brown (17:13.23), Taylor Smith (17:35.62), and Taylor Massaro (17:44.14) contributed to the Amsterdam effort.

BP’s Liebler wins girls modified race

Rian Liebler won the modified girls race with a time of 13:08.15 leading the Broadalbin- Perth girls to a second place finish with 45 points. Krystal Negron (13:37.56) placed third, and Sarah Larsen (14:21.48), Joshalynn Wagner (14:31.20), and Aubrey Jennings (14:35.26) all placed in the top 25. Seventh grader Chelsea Weaver (16:41.90) completed the BP effort. Queensbury won the race.

The Lady Patriots junior varsity team was led by Jessie Brooks (27:46.34) in 36th place. Julie Capito (28:23.47), Allyson Becker (30:17.65), and Brooke McClarren (35:54.20) rounded out the BPHS field.

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.