Running together key to AHS girls cross country win over Johnstown

The Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity cross country team placed seven runners in the top ten during their Foothills Council dual meet against Johnstown on Tuesday afternoon at Johnstown High School. The Lady Rams ability to run together as a team helped them to a 20 to 44 victory over their division rival, Lady Bills.

Amsterdam got another impressive performance from senior Olivia Lazarou, who won the varsity girls race with a time of 20 minutes, and four seconds. Johnstown’s Julia Sarullo (21:24) was more than a minute behind Lazarou in second place, but the next three runners were all Lady Rams. Lauren Santiago (22:32), Kayla Sondrup (23:30), and Gabby Feliciano (23:32) helped seal the win for Amsterdam (3-1 Foothills Council). Amsterdam’s ability to finish together has helped make them into a contender for the Foothills Council championships that are less than two weeks away.

“That’s something we have been able to do is run together,” Amsterdam coach Stu Palczak said. “We’re finishing together. Now, if we can get our pack closer to Olivia (Lazarou) we would really be good.”

The Lady Rams pack did their best to keep up with the team’s front runner, and their finish was crucial in the final outcome. After Johnstown’s Katie Romano (23:40) crossed the line in sixth, Amsterdam’s Skylar Grybos (24:01), Brook Marshall (24:23), and Sydney Szczepanik (24:47) locked up the seven through nine spots to put another meet in the win column for Amsterdam. Julia Preston (24:59) of Johnstown rounded out the top ten finishers. The Lady Rams have had several runners in their pack step up with some best performances at recent meets, and Tuesday’s race was no exception. Coach Palczak noted the efforts of junior Gabby Feliciano, who has consistently improved during the season. After a pair of top ten finishes against Gloversvile and Brodalbin- Perth, Feliciano capped of her Foothills Council dual meet campaign with a top five finish.

“She had her best run of the year,” Coach Palczak said of Feliciano. “She’s been working hard all year and has really started to click. She keeps getting better.”

Also completing the 3.1 mile course for the Lady Rams were freshman Josie Smith, senior Natalie Fernandez, sophomore Emma Kelly, freshman Makayla Brown, junior Kayla Kamanu, and senior Chara Boston. Rosalie Sculco was the top finisher for the Amsterdam modified girls team. It was the final Foothills Council dual meet race for Fernandez, Boston, and Kayla Dzikowicz, who along with sophomore Sofia Dayian did not run due to injury, but supported their teammates along the course. It was also the last Foothills Council dual meet run for Lazarou, who has built an impressive record throughout her four year varsity career with the Amsterdam Lady Rams cross country program.

Lazarou places second at Grout Invitational, AHS team takes fourth place

The girls varsity team came away with fourth place finish at the Grout Invitational on Saturday, October 7 at Central Park in Schenectady, facing a talented field that included Queensbury, and Suburban Council power Colonie.

The 2.75 mile girls Division 1 race pitted Lazarou and the Lady Rams against Emily Atamanchuk and the Queensbury Lady Spartans. Lazarou and Atamanchuk have faced each other several times over the past years with both earning wins against each other at different races. Saturday’s run in Schenectady was a classic battle, with both competitors trading the lead position until heading into the final stretch before the finish with Atamanchuk (16:41.41) coming out in front of Lazarou (16:16.71) by only 2.3 seconds.

“I always learn something from races like that,” Lazarou said. “Something I can work on, something I can do better. I was still happy with the race. Now, I just focus on the next one.”

“She handled it just fine,” Coach Palczak said of Lazarou’s finish, “It was just another day. You can’t win them all and she knows that. It was a learning experience, and she can improve from it.”

“We push each other,” Lazarou said of her rivalry with Atamanchuk, who is also in her senior year. “Even though last week wasn’t the result I wanted, you have to move on and look forward to the next race. We’re excited to go to Manhattan.”

That next race will be another meeting with Atamanchuk as both the Lady Rams and Lady Spartans will be competing in the 2017 Manhattan Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park on Saturday, October 14.

The Lady Rams are also preparing for the upcoming Foothills Council Championships on October 23, and the Section 2 Championships on November 3 both at Sartatoga Springs State Park.

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.