Lazarou wins Foothills Council championship race

Amsterdam’s Olivia Lazarou took first place at the girls Foothills Council championship cross country race on Monday afternoon at Saratoga Springs State Park, leading a strong fourth place team effort by AHS runners, and adding another impressive achievement to her resume.

The girls varsity race was another much anticipated match up with Lazarou, the Lady Rams senior front runner, and Queensbury senior Emily Atamanchuk who had previously outdistanced Lazarou by only two seconds at the Grout Invitational just over two weeks earlier. Atamanchuk already had one Foothills title to her credit winning the 2015 girls varsity title as a sophomore when she and teammate Sherri Metcalf held off a charging Lazarou down the final stretch. Lazarou was again a runner-up in 2016 to Regina Rosati of South Glens Falls. But the 2017 race was all about the student-athlete who her friends, teammates, and even rivals affectionately call “pop tart.”

“It feels great,” Lazarou said after her winning run. “I owe it all to my coaches, teammates, and the girls I compete with. We all encourage each other and push each other. It’s good to have girls like Emily (Atamanchuk) to compete with. We all push each other to do better. It’s all great.”

The race got off to a fast start with some of the top contenders including Scotia-Glenville’s Juliana Geniti, and Johnstown’s Julia Sarullo setting the pace. Lazarou and Atamanchuk hung back waiting for a chance to move to the front.

“A few girls took it out fast and set the pace,” Atamanchuk said. “Olivia and I just stayed back waiting to do our thing. The girls in front made us anxious with the fast start, and the first mile was insane.”

The top 21 finishers in the race had an average mile of under seven minutes in the 4908 meter (3.05 mile) run. As the race progressed the quick pace took it’s toll on the runners and eventually Lazarou and Atamanchuk separated themselves from the rest of the pack. However, keeping up with Lazarou on one of her favorite courses turned out to be a difficult challenge for Atamanchuk.

“I knew I just had to stay with her,” Atamanchuk said in regards to Lazarou. “But once we got to the hill at Ferndale, she just took off.”

The hill near Ferndale Spring has often been the turning point during races at SPAC and Monday’s girls varsity event was no exception.

“It was at the top of the hill,” Lazarou said when she broke away from Atamanchuk. “[Coach Stu Palczak] always tells me ‘you have to move, you have to move’. Keep pushing until you get to the finish.”

Lazarou was the first runner to come out of the woods and run past the Hall of Springs on her way to the final stretch for the finish. Atamanchuk came into view just under 30 seconds later still kicking to try and catch Lazarou, who crossed the line with a time of 18 minutes and 29.44 seconds. Atamanchuk was next with a time of 18:58.68.

“I’m so happy for her,” Atamanchuk said of Lazarou’s win. “She deserves it.”

The Foothills top two girls runners will meet again on Saturday at the Harvest Classic at Bob’s Trees in Galway.

Scotia-Glenville’s Juliana Geniti (19:17.12) came in third place followed by Schuylerville sophomore Sunni LaBounty ( 19:33.30). Glens Falls’ Katie Culliton (19:47.67), Queensbury’s Maggie Borgos (19:59.90), Scotia- Glenville’s Laura Meade (20:06.91), and Delaney Krogh (20:10.37), Queensbury’s Aberlyn Doin (20:15.06), and Johnstown’s Julia Sarullo (20:18.73) rounded out the top ten. Gloversville’s Daley Jo Christman (20:32.40) finished in 13th, and Broadalbin-Perth’s Gabrielle Larsen (20:39.40) were 14th among local athletes.

The Amsterdam Lady Rams placed fourth in the varsity division out of eight scoring teams with 99 points. Junior Lauren Santiago (20:52.49- 16th place) was the second Lady Rams runner to complete the course, followed by Kayla Sondrup (21:48.93- 26th place), Gabby Feliciano (22:13.02), Brook Marshall (22:45.36), and Skylar Grybos (23:21.72). All six Amsterdam runners were among the top 40 times.

Queensbury won the girls varsity team title with 42 points. Sophomore Kinsley Holl (20:21.70) was eleventh, and 2014 girls varsity champion, senior Alexis Bartlett (20:46.67) was 16th sealing the win for the Lady Spartans. Annaelise Beyerbach (21:14.36) gave Queensbury six runners in the top twenty. Scotia- Glenville was second with 54 points, and Schuylerville was third with 86 points. Brodalbin-Perth was fifth with136 points. The Lady Patriots got top 30 finishes from freshman Samantha Murphy (21:00.90), and senior Mackenzie Dezolt (21:54.14).

Szczepanik in top five in junior varsity race

Amsterdam freshman Sydney Szczepanik crossed the line in fifth place in the 2017 Foothills Council junior varsity girls race. Szczepanik’s time of 22:52.92 was the best time for any runner from a school other than Queensbury. Carlyn Fitzgerald (22:07.06) won the junior varsity contest and was followed by three of her teammates before Szczepanik broke up the Lady Spartans run. Six more Queensbury runners crossed the finish line before a runner the next school to post a time came across.

Amsterdam freshman Josie Smith (25:39.23), and senior Natalie Fernandez (25:46.21) were the next to cross the line for the Lady Rams. Both runners finished just outside the top twenty. Sophomore Sofia Dayian (27:05.44) was one of several AHS runners to pass an opponent in the chute heading for the finish. Dayian passed Schuylerville’s Jasmine Sirois in the final 50 meters to give the Lady Rams three runners in the top thirty. Kayla Kamanu (27:42.24), Emma Kelly (28:12.64), Makayla Brown (30:06.65) and Chara Boston (34:51.60) helped Amsterdam to a third place finish with 71 points. Queensbury won the junior varsity girls title with a meet best 16 points. South Glens Falls was second with 55 points.

At the closing awards ceremony, Szczepanik and fellow freshman Brook Marshall were honored among the top Foothills Council girls freshmen for 2017.

Sculco posts top ten finish in modified girls race

Amsterdam seventh grader Rosalie Sculco continued her impressive rookie cross country season with a tenth place finish in the 2017 Foothills Council modified girls race. Sculco’s time of 14:17.20 was the first of three top 20 finishes for the young Lady Rams.

Brittney Ferlazzo (14:37.89 – 15th place), and Briana Kelly (14:50.26- 19th place) also finished strong for an Amsterdam team that earned a third place team finish. Brooke Schaufleberg (15:09.78), Taylor Smith (15:38.09), and Kathryn Kowalczyk (15:45.10) all contributed to the outstanding effort. Kowalczyk’s time gave Amsterdam it’s sixth runner to cross the line, and was seven seconds better than the sixth runner from a Queensbury team that also scored 67 points, and it put Amsterdam ahead of the Lady Spartans. Schuylerville’s Megan Vianese (13:00.41) won the girls modified race.

Also competing for Amsterdam were Jessica Holloway (15:58.28), Brenna McNamara (17:47.23), Yveliz Tilison (17:59.59), Jayla McGaffin (18:02.86), and Shelby Burrows (19:22.43).

South Glens Falls won the team competition with 28 points. Broadalbin- Perth was second with 64 points. Lady Patriots seventh grader Lauren Phillips (13:23.38) posted a fourth place finish. Phillips’ teammates Emma Frasier (14:22.84 – 13th place), and Bianca Ropeter (14:42.23 -16th place) gave Broadalbin-Perth three in the top twenty runners.

The Amsterdam cross country teams will compete in the Harvest Classic on Saturday at Bob’s Trees in Galway before concluding the season with the 2017 New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section 2 Cross Country Championships at Saratoga Springs State Park on Friday, November 3rd. The championships are an all day event run along the same course as the Foothills Council race.

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.