Lazarou takes commanding lead at AHS girls cross country Foothills opener

Amsterdam’s Olivia Lazarou turned in her best time so far this season for a dominating performance in the Amsterdam varsity girls cross-country Foothills Council league opener at Indian Meadows Park in Glenville on Tuesday afternoon. The Lady Rams dropped a close decision to the Scotia- Glenville Lady Tartans 24-31, but Lazarou’s trip around the 2.85 mile course turned more than a few heads.

“Coach Palczak and I have been talking about my staying focused when I’m out there alone,” Lazarou said. “It’s definitely something that I’ve been trying to work on.”

Lazarou was alone for much of the race having put a considerable distance between herself and the rest of the field. Her finishing time of 18:03 was more than a minute better than the next runner. Lazarou’s blistering pace on a warm late summer afternoon had spectators running from point A to point B in order to catch a glimpse of her running her race.

“She’s running strong in the early part of the season,” Amsterdam coach Stu Palczak said. “That sets up well for the rest of the season. One thing we talked about was setting small goals. Running strong by herself was one of those goals. She’s getting better at it.”

Lazarou’s technique and approach to races have been improving over the years. As a freshman she took the cross-country scene by surprise, becoming the first Amsterdam girl to qualify for states. She followed that with an even better performance in her sophomore year making it to the Federation meet as well. The competition increased dramatically in her junior year when Amsterdam moved up to Class A and faced powerhouse teams from Saratoga Springs and Shenendehowa. But Lazarou thrived on the chance to compete with some of the best in the state and finished in the top 20 at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section 2 Class A championships, and earned another bid to the Federation run.

“I thought my time was o-kay, not my best,” Lazarou said in regards to Tuesday’s race. “I’m staying focused on running hard by myself, and on what I’m doing when there is a pack. Just being able to run fast.”

Lazarou’s time was over a minute better than the second place finisher Delaney Krough (19:15). She was followed by her teammates Laura Meade (19:54), and Courtney DiCarlo (19:56). The second though fourth place finishes were key to the race as the Lady Tartans pack came in ahead of the girls from Amsterdam beginning with the next in line to finish, AHS junior Lauren Santiago (20:03).

“The difference was their pack finished significantly ahead of our pack,” Coach Palczak said. “I was hoping our pack would step up, but not today.”

The Scotia-Glenville girls were familiar with their course and knew just where to make their move. Catching Lazarou was impossible but, as the teams came out of the woods during the second loop the Lady Tartans broke away from the Amsterdam pack, and the distance created between them allowed SGHS to put the score in their favor getting four of the top six finishers.

Scotia-Glenville’s Olivia Wheeler (20:08) was sixth overall. Amsterdam freshman Brook Marshall (20:33) was seventh with her teammate Kayla Sondrup (21:00) not far behind. SGHS’ Nikki Dugan (21:15) placed ninth, and Amsterdam’s Skylar Grybos (21:37) rounded out the top ten.

Also finishing strong for Amsterdam were; Gabby Maroto (21:51), Gabby Feliciano (21:54), Sydney Szczepanik (22:35), Josie Smith (24:29), Sofia Dayian (26:12), Natalie Fernandez (27:10), Emma Kelly (27:13), and Chara Boston (33:06).

Also completing the run for Scotia-Glenville were Maddie Durant (23:11), Ali Jerreld (25:05), and Olivia Deangelo (25:39).

The Amsterdam Lady Rams return to Foothill Council action on Tuesday, September 26 when they face Gloversville on their home course at Bob’s Trees in Galway. Start time for the meet is scheduled for 4:15 pm.

The Amsterdam girls modified team runs in the Galway Invitational at Bob’s Trees on Saturday at 9am.

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.