BPHS boys and girls place high at Section 2 cross country championship

The Broadalbin-Perth boys varsity cross country team placed seventh overall, and the BPHS varsity girls were eleventh overall in the largest field of runners, the Class C/CC races at Friday’s 2017 New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section 2 Cross Country Championships at Saratoga Springs State Park. Both teams also featured several top 50 finishes.

Patriots sophomore Micah Smith crossed the finish line eleventh in the boys Class CC race with a time of 17 minutes and 56.27 seconds, the best for the BPHS varsity. Micah Smith’s time was also good for 17th overall in the combined Class C/CC standings, out of a field of 161 runners.

Micah Smith’s outstanding team leading effort was the best time of any BPHS runner for the day. Freshman Daniel Dylong (18:34.75) also turned a top 50 time placing 25th in Class CC, and 41st overall.

Junior Devin Becker (18:51.92) was next followed by freshman Damian Brockhum (19:04.10), senior Evan Smith (19:11.66), sophomore Patrick Nellis (19:43.70), junior Wyatt Couperus (19:46.79), sophomore Antonio Zevola (19:56.73), and junior Preston Hadley (20:03.52).

The Patriots finished fourth in Class CC with 146 points, and seventh in the overall combined standings with 237 points. Albany Academy won the Class C/CC title with 38 points. Chris Hughes (16:00.79) of Glens Falls was the overall Class C/CC champion.

Gabrielle Larsen in top ten for Lady Patriots

Broadalbin-Perth junior Gabby Larsen turned in the best finish for the Lady Patriots posting a time of 20:27.17, good for fifth in the girls Class CC race, and ninth overall out of 152 runners in the Class C/CC standings. Larsen attempted to become the first BPHS girl to qualify for the NYSPHSAA State Cross Country Championships since the Lady Patriots won the Class C team title in 2013. Larsen’s time was only ten seconds shy of reaching that goal.

“It wasn’t what I expected overall,” Larsen said. “But, I thought I ran strong.”

Vorheesville’s Marien Sayahi (20:17.05) was the runner just ahead of Larsen as the runners headed to the finish. The Lady Blackbird’s seventh grader was the fifth runner not from the winning school (Schutlerville) to cross the line, and qualified for states. The result however has not discouraged Larsen, who will continue to train and reach her goals.

“I definitely want to break twenty minutes,” said Larsen. But, the top runner for the Lady Patriots also has more goals for the team in the near future.

“I’d like to see the younger girls up here at the varsity level,” Larsen said. “We have a group of eighth graders who are the future of this team. It will be fun to see them run.”

Larsen was referring to the young group of Lady Patriots on the modified team including Lauren Phillips, Emma Frasier, and Bianca Ropeter, who all finished in the top 25 in the girls modified race at the recent Foothills Council Championships.

Already at the varsity level are freshman Samantha Murphy (20:55.18) who was 14th in Class CC and 23rd overall in C/CC, giving the Lady Patriots two runners in the top 25. Following Murphy were freshmen Aubrey Jennings (23:16.18), and Sarah Larsen (23:30.10), seniors Jordyn DeNeuville (24:36.86), Jessie Brooks (26:32.46), who didn’t let a fractured toe stop her from running her last race for the BPHS varsity, and Brooke McClarren (39:50.40).

Before the meet, the BPHS cross country teams were visited by a pair of alumni who were part of the 2013 Lady Patriots team that won the NYSPHSAA Section 2 Class C title, and were the last girls team to run at states. Victoria and Alexandria Opalka were at championships to support their former teammates.

“It was encouraging to have them here,” Gabby Larsen said. “I remember them always being there to cheer on the modified teams when I was in seventh grade. We all respected them and how they represented the program. It was nice to see them again.”

Larsen will be in that role as senior leader when the teams begin practice for next season. Most of her teammates will be in only their sophomore year in 2018 when the Patriots and Lady Patriots begin another quest for a sectional title.

The Lady Patriots finished sixth in Class CC with 139 points, and eleventh overall in Class C/CC with 272 points. Schuylerville won the overall C/CC girls title with 78 points. Duanesburg’s Jen Skeeter (19:04.87) won the girls C/CC race.

Author’s Note:

If I were giving a “comeback athlete of the year award” for a cross country athlete, it would go to Broadalbin-Perth’s Mackenzie Dezolt. The Lady Patriots senior missed most of the 2016 season while dealing with a physical ailment, but was awarded a bid to participate in the 2016 Section 2 meet where she posted a top 25 finish in the girls Class C race. Dezolt returned this season and ran in nearly every meet for the BPHS varsity team, and finished in the top thirty at the 2017 Foothills Council Championships, completing the course with a 21:54.14 time in the girls varsity race. It was one of her best times of the season. Dezolt started the 2017 girls Class C race on Friday, but was unable to complete the course. Her courage and dedication to her team and the sport should not go unnoticed, and she should be commended for her efforts.

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.