Lady Rams cross country win pair of titles at Harvest Classic race

Both the Amsterdam High School girls varsity and modified cross-country teams took first place in their respective races on Saturday morning at the 2017 Harvest Classic at Bob’s Trees in Galway. The invitational meet set between league championship meets and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section 2 Championships gives athletes who are short of the standard for eligibility for sectionals a chance to qualify and improve their times. The Harvest Classic took place at the scenic 2.86 mile Bob’s Trees course, a location fitting of the term “harvest”, and was hosted by the Amsterdam High School cross-country program. The location has been the home course for the AHS cross-country teams since they joined the Foothills Council in 2014. For, some it turned out to be their last high school invitational meet.

Over the past four years, Olivia Lazarou’s positive attitude and strong work ethic have helped her to make school history with the AHS cross-country program. Saturday’s race was her final trip up the hill and through the woods at the Galway course. Friends and family had a front row seat for her historic, last run.

The girls varsity race almost didn’t have a rival to challenge Lazarou. At the conclusion of the Foothills Council championships, Queensbury had committed to participating in the Harvest Classic, but did not attend after learning the teams’ coach suffered the loss of a family member. It would have been yet another race with Lazarou’s top rival, Queensbury’s Emily Atamanchuk. Mayfield High School was present at the meet, but without freshman standout Madison Relyea. The multi- talented freshman was participating in an equestrian event. She and her show horse earned a blue ribbon. Scotia- Glenville was at the meet, and with senior Juliana Geniti, who missed the first league meet of the season with Amsterdam back on September 19, and was one who needed another race. But, in the end it didn’t matter who was running. The bright, sunny, unusually warm, late October day belonged to Lazarou.

As Lazarou came out of the woods and headed past the crowd of spectators during her first lap, the time clock had barely ticked past the eight minute mark. The crowd anticipated the likelihood of yet another personal record for the fourth year varsity senior. Lazarou’s second lap was another strong one, and as she came into view headed for the finish there wasn’t another runner in sight. Lazarou hustled across the line with a time of 17 minutes, and 29 seconds, and a new personal best eclipsing her previous top time at the distance (17:49.72 at the Herriman Invitational), by nearly twenty seconds.

“I’m happy with my time,” Lazarou said. “But, there’s always room for improvement.”

Scotia-Glenville’s Juliana Geniti (18:11) crossed the line 42 seconds after Lazarou for a second place finish. The next four runners were all from different schools with Sauquoit Valley’s Madison Randall (18:14) placing third, Hoosic Valley’s Carrie Burnell (18:26) fourth, Cooperstown’s Samantha Fanion (18:38) fifth, and Johnstown’s Julia Sarullo (18:41) in sixth. Five teams fielded enough runners to score in the competition, and the next runners to cross provided valuable points toward victory.

Those points went to Amsterdam as both junior Lauren Santiago (19:15), and sophomore Kayla Sondrup (19:55) came in seventh and eighth place overall. Amsterdam was the only team to place three runners in the top ten. Lynette Delavechio (20:03) of Hudson, and Eliza Cechnicki (20:05) of Fort Plain-Canajoharie rounded out the top ten finishers.

“We were totally good,” Santiago said. “It was a good day for all of us.”

Gabby Feliciano (20:36) came across in fourteenth place, and Skylar Grybos (21:17) sealed the win with a top twenty time. Sydney Szczepanik (22:04) gave Amsterdam six in the top 25 runners.

“It helps us get into planning for sectionals,” Sondrup said. “We know what teams to look out for, and how we need to train for the team competition.”

Amsterdam earned 38 points for the win. Sauquoit Valley was second with 49 points, and Hoosic Valley placed third in the team competition with 62 points. Fort Plain-Canajoharie placed fourth with 89 points, and Hudson was fifth with 114 points.

The run was Lazarou’s last at the Bob’s Trees course. The AHS senior has dominated competition on her home turf winning 16 of 17 Foothills Council home meets there. Her only second place finish was as a freshman in a 2014 league crossover meet against Schuylerville. Lazarou was runner-up to current Roberts Wesleyan College freshman Ashley Watson.

“It was exciting,” Lazarou said. “I like the course a lot, looking at all the Christmas trees. It was a nice course. We all did really well today.”

The meet was also a chance for athletes to improve their times and help teams prepare for sectionals less than a week away, on Friday at Saratoga Springs State Park.

“The whole team is ready,” Lazarou said. “Our coaches have prepared us all season and for sectionals.”

“I’m looking forward to placing higher and setting my personal record,” Santiago said. “And finishing ahead of some of the better runners.”

Fernandez leads AHS junior varsity

Amsterdam senior Natalie Fernandez made the most of her last run at the Lady Rams home course placing fifth overall in the junior varsity race with a time of 23:54, and helped Amsterdam to a second place team finish. Sophomore Emma Kelly (25:49), freshman MaKayla Brown (26:01), sophomore Sofia Dayian (26:41), junior Kayla Kamanu (26:44), and senior Chara Boston (31:29) rounded out the field for the Lady Rams who totaled 39 points. Sauquoit Valley took the top spot with 16 points getting the first four runners overall across the line led by race winner Rachel Pabon (22:00).

Ferlazzo leads AHS modified to victory

Seventh grader Brittney Ferlazzo ended the modified girls race with a strong move on her way to a seventh place finish (10:45), and was the first of four Amsterdam runners to finish together giving Amsterdam (21 points) the win. Rosalie Sculco (10:50), Brooke Schaufelberg (10:51.06), and Briana Kelly (10:51.64) all were within seconds of each other. Yveliz Tilison (11:24), Kathryn Kowalczyk (11:54), Taylor Smith (12:12), Jessica Holloway (12:14), Jayla McGaffin (12:31), Shelby Burrows (12:33) and Brenna McNamara (12:40) all followed. Lily Crub (9:31) of Hoosic Valley won the race. Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville was second led by Ariana George (10:39- 5th place).

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.