AHS cross country runners compete at Grout Run in Schenectady

Amsterdam did not have its full compliment of cross country runners at this year’s Grout Run on Saturday, October 6, in Schenectady’s Central Park, but it had competitive runners. Sophomore Trevor Dzikowicz placed 11th in the Boys Varsity Division I race, and senior Lauren Santiago finished 22nd in the Girls Varsity Division II race for Amsterdam. The Amsterdam girls team placed eighth out of the nine teams in its division, while Amsterdam did not field a complete, five-person team to earn any points in the boys race.

“I think they ran competitively,” said Amsterdam cross country head coach Stu Palczak. “We didn’t have all of our top kids because they were taking exams today, but the ones we had ran competitively.”

Dzikowicz was part of a pack of runners that finished within 22 seconds of each other between sixth and 11th place. Dzikowicz finished with a time of 15:09.98, only three seconds out of 10th place.

“It was decent,” said Dzikowicz. “I feel if I prepared a little better the day before the meet, I could have done better by one place.”

Santiago ran in a field that included Section 2 powers Greenwich and Colonie, as well as Washingtonville from Section 9. She said she was pleased with her 22nd-place finish in a time of 18:18.33.

“I think I ran a pretty solid race,” said Santiago, who’s outdoor track and field specialty is the 400-meter dash. “I was in the lead pack, and I tried to reel in as many girls as I could in the end.”

Santiago and Dzikowicz have been among Amsterdam’s top runners all season, according to Palczak.

“Lauren [Santiago] is a senior, she works very hard and she’s very competitive,” said Palczak. “She’s been a very good leader for our younger girls. Trevor is a sophomore, and he keeps getting stronger every week. He’s setting himself up well not only for the rest of this season, but future seasons as well.”

The Grout Run is the only Section 2 cross country race run mainly on pavement, as the course winds its way along the roads in and around Central Park. For student-athletes used to competing on grass and in the woods, it can be a jolt to the system.

“You definitely have to train on pavement to be really good at it,” said Dzikowicz.

While other high schools have stopped going to the Grout Run for that reason, Palczak said he uses the event as a measuring stick for his team.

“We run the Grout for a couple of reasons,” said Palczak. “First of all, we’ve regularly come here for a number of years, so we can compare our times to other seasons. Second of all, there is a lot of competition from outside of Section 2 that come here. So, we can compare ourselves to those teams.”

With the 2018 Grout Run in the books, Amsterdam is now focused on the final stretch of the season, which includes the Foothills Council Championships Monday, October 22, and the Section 2 Championships Friday, November 2, at Saratoga Spa State Park.

“I know it sounds almost cliché, but we have to get faster,” said Palczak. “To do that, we have to put the work in, especially on our off days.”

Rob Jonas

Rob Jonas writes about sports, arts, and culture for the Mohawk Valley
Compass. He has covered high school and community sports for more than 25