2017 was another record breaking year for AHS track and field teams

There are quite a few changes that will need to be made to Amsterdam High School’s track and field record board that hangs on the wall near the entrance to the school gymnasium.  Amsterdam track and field athletes tied or broke nine overall records this year, bringing the total of new high marks set since 2014 to twenty five among the AHS boys and girls teams combined.

Boucaud sets new best marks in two events

Amsterdam senior Kevon Boucaud admitted that during the Ken Smith Kiwanis Bi County Meet at Amsterdam High School on April 15 that he wasn’t trying for the record in the boys long jump. But by the end of the day, one of oldest records on the board was broken. Back in 1969, Tim McKnight set the standard at 22 feet and nine inches. Boucaud bested that distance by a half an inch.

“I wasn’t expecting it because I was entered in both the 100 meter and 200 meter track events,” Boucaud said after the meet. “I wasn’t going for that record, but I was trying for the 100 meter. My coach told me to go for it and I went and did it.”

Boucuad set the new mark even higher besting his own record with a distance of 23′ and 3” at the 2017 Foothills Council Championships at Schuylerville High School on May 17. The senior then took aim at the 100 meter record previously set by former Amsterdam and current Rutgers University standout Izaiah Brown (10.84 seconds in 2015). Also at the Foothills Council Championships, Boucaud set the new school mark with a time of 10.73 seconds to win that event.

Boucaud said that having good role models to follow had an impact on his career at AHS.

“My favorite moment is of my teammates Omahri (Sturdivant) and Izaiah (Brown),” Boucaud said on senior day against Broadalbin- Perth. “They showed me what to do. They pushed me to making myself a better runner. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

Stanavich soars to school best in both girls hurdles

It would not have been uncommon to see Amsterdam sophomore Gabriella Stanavich working out with the hurdles on the AHS track on a quiet Saturday morning. Since she broke onto the scene a year ago winning multiple times in both the girls 100 meter and 400 meter events, Stanavich has continued that strong work ethic with record breaking effect. Her aunt, Marie Davey had held the school record in the 100 meter hurdles since 1999 with a time of 15.10 seconds. Stanavich was aiming to break that record and in the third meet of the year at the Niskayuna Warrior Classic set a new record with a time of 15.05 seconds, and like Boucaud, she didn’t expect to get the new mark.

“No, I didn’t expect it,” Stanavich said. “I hit one of the hurdles early in the final and had only run a 15.4 in the semi’s. To run a fifteen flat was crazy. I didn’t expect it.”

And also like Boucuad, Stanavich took it a notch higher when she posted an impressive time of 14.65 seconds at the William F. Eddy Invitational at Schenectady High School on May 20. With that run, Stanavich achieved another goal.

“I wanted to get under fifteen seconds in the 100 meter hurdles,” Stanavich said. “I also want to get better at the 400 meter hurdles. That’s where I need to improve.”

Improve she did. On May 12 at the Shenendehowa Invitational, Stanavich set a new school record in the girls 400 meter hurdles with a time of 65.47 seconds, besting the old mark of 67.6 seconds set by Tricia Czeski in 2001.

Lazarou is school’s best in girls 1500 meter run

Olivia Lazarou is no stranger to the AHS record books. As a freshman, Lazarou became the first girl in the history of the Amsterdam cross country program to qualify for the state championships. Over the last three years, Lazarou has qualified for either the state or federation meet. At the start of the 2017 season, Lazarou’s name appeared on the record board as a member of four relay teams and for the girls 5k. The record in the 1500 meter was within her reach. Over the past two years, the Lady Rams standout has spent part of her summer’s training at the Running School in the Catskills to prepare her for the competitive cross country and track and field seasons.

“Mentally it really helps prepare you, and physically too,” Lazarou said during the Bi-County Meet. “I’ve been wanting to keep getting better in all events.”

On May 20 at the Eddy Meet, Lazarou put her name on the record board again with a time of 4 minutes, 46.75 seconds in the girls 1500 meter run passing the mark of 4:50.70 set by Evelyn Marrero in 2007. During that race, Lazarou was among some of the best runners in the state among a field that included Shenendehowa’s Hannah Reale and Julia Zachgo, and South Glens Falls’ Regina Rosati.

“I love it when I have someone to compete with,” Lazarou said. “It pushes me even more. I definitely look forward to it.”

When Lazarou set the new school record in the girls 1500 meter run, she joined her teammates Brenda Santana, and Edena Sanchez, each with their name next to six events on the school record board as individuals or part of relay teams.

Lazarou, Santana, Sanchez, and Santiago were an important part of an Amsterdam varsity girls track team that went undefeated in the Foothills Council South division in track events with a perfect 44-0 record. The Lady Rams were also perfect in track events on the AHS course with a record of 33-0.

“I owe it all to my teammates and coaches,” Lazarou said. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

AHS girls relay teams set two school records

The Amsterdam Lady Rams 4×100 meter relay team of Brenda Santana, Charli Beekman, Gabby Stanavich, and Edena Sanchez got off to a fast start at the Bi-County Meet hosted by Amsterdam High School on April 15. The foursome’s time of 51.00 seconds bested the old mark set only a year ago (51.74 seconds). Santana was part of that team that included Alyssa Kuchis, Kaitlyn Devine, and Giuliana Pritchard.

“We worked really hard on our hand offs,” Santana said after the record breaking run. “That was our goal. We knew it could be done, but we just didn’t know when. We’re happy.”

But, the 4×100 meter relay team wasn’t done, and took it a step better at the Cohoes Relays two weeks later on April 29 where they finished with a time of 50.70 seconds, firmly establishing a new school best.

Santana was part of another record breaking time along with Sanchez, Lazarou, and Lauren Santiago in the Lady Rams 4×400 meter relay.

During the 2017 New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) indoor track and field season, the Lady Rams 4×400 relay team saw its dream become a reality. At the state qualifiers at the University at Albany, the AHS girls challenged large schools including Suburban Council contenders Colonie and Albany and won, becoming the first Lady Rams girls relay team to qualify for the state meet. With one sectional title to their credit, the Lady Rams went for another during the outdoor season and got it done.

Amsterdam defeated both Shenendehowa and Saratoga Springs in the NYSPHSAA Section 2 Group 1 championships at Guilderland High School on May 23. The Lady Rams time of 4:01.01 was even better than the time of 4:02.17 set only eleven days earlier at the Shenendehowa Invitational that originally broke the old school record (4:05.26) set by the same tandem only a year ago. Winning at the indoor state qualifier was a favorite memory for Sanchez.

“Our coach said to us he knew we had the potential,” Sanchez said at the senior night meet. “Going to states was a dream. It felt so unreal. Like something out of a movie. I’ll always remember that moment.”

Sanchez went on to equal her own school record time in the girls 800 meter run (2:15.56) at the Shenendehowa Invy. Her teammate Lauren Santiago set a new record mark in the girls 400 meter run also at the Shenendehowa Invy with a time of 59.12 seconds to best the old mark that she had set as an eighth grader back in 2015.

Overall Amsterdam track and field athletes set school or meet records in six events at the 2017 Shenendehowa Invitational. Ten Amsterdam athletes represented their school at the State Qualifiers Meet at Shenendehowa High School on June 4 and 5. Kevon Boucaud took first in both the boys long jump and the boys 100 meter dash to qualify for the state championships meet at Union Endicott High School. Joining Boucaud at the state meet was Gabby Stanavich, who qualified in the girls 100 meter hurdles with a second place finish behind only Saratoga’s Mimi Liebers. Both Boucaud and Stanavich made their school proud with podium finishes at the June 9- 10 state championships. Stanavich became the first Amsterdam girl track athlete to qualify for the state meet since Sandy Martin in 1996. Martin’s distance in the shot put (41’4”) is still a school record and among the top ten best all time in Section 2. Stanavich has two more years to continue to add her name to record books.

In addition to Boucaud and Stanavich, Amsterdam was represented at the state qualifiers by Luis Rodriguez, Marcos Santiago, Lauren Santiago, Brenda Santana, Emma Gomez, Edena Sanchez, Olivia Lazarou, and eighth grader Charli Beekman. Many of them would be named Foothills Council all stars.

Amsterdam places eight on Foothills Council All-Stars

The Amsterdam boys and girls varsity track and field teams earned six first team, and three second team nominations when the Foothills Council announced its 2017 track and field all stars.

Kevon Boucuad was named to the boys first team in the 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, and the long jump leading all AHS athletes. Marcos Santiago was named to the first team in the boys 110 meter hurdles, and received an honorable mention in the boys 400 meter high hurdles. Mikey Gomez was named to the second team for the boys 400 meter run.

On the Amsterdam girls team, Brenda Santana was named to the first team in the girls 200 meter dash, Edena Sanchez was named to the first team in the girls 800 meter run, Gabby Stanavich earned the first team nod in the girls 100 meter hurdles, and the Amsterdam girls 4x 400 meter relay team of Sanchez, Santana, Olivia Lazarou, and Lauren Santiago was named to the first team all stars.

Santiago and Lazarou both earned second team honors with Santiago named for 400 meter run and Lazarou for the 1500 meter run. Brenda Santana also earned an honorable mention for the 100 meter dash.

Since 2014, the Amsterdam girls outdoor track and field teams have accounted for 16 school records, and the Amsterdam boys teams have accomplished nine new school bests. The longest standing records on the board are in the boys shot put, set by Joe Lemanski in 1968, and for the girls it’s Nancy Frazier’s mark in the high jump set back in 1987.

With the support of their teammates, coaches and community, Amsterdam athletes will continue to put their names to the school record board. The strong team spirit exemplified by this year’s track and field athletes are a testament to the family-like atmosphere that coaches Stu Palczak, Kevin Wilary and their staff have created within the program. With all the records, and those yet to be broken, and with athletes like Izaiah Brown and Omahri Sturdivant now performing at the top college level, and with more likely to follow in their footsteps, the day will come when AHS alumni may look back on this time and realize that it was a golden era for Amsterdam track and 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.