All-night drive leads to national relay title
GREENSBORO, N.C. It was a wild day for two Section II teams Saturday in the New Balance Nationals at North Carolina A & T University in Greensboro, N.C.
First, half of the Saratoga Springs girls’ 4 x mile relay team had to drive through the night to arrive in time for an 8 a.m. race which the Blue Streaks remarkably won.
Then, the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake boys put together an incredible effort in the distance medley relay, taking 2.5 seconds off a 32-year-old state record, only to get beat by two other New York teams and three others in an historic race.
But the 4 x mile odyssey was one that was unlike anything Art and Linda Kranick had experienced before in their 25 years of coaching at Saratoga.
The one problem with the nationals is that they occur during Regents week in New York, and several runners couldn’t leave until they finished exams at 3 p.m. Friday. Their flight was scheduled to reach Greensboro at 1 a.m., not leaving a lot of time to sleep before the race seven hours later.
But not only was the flight delayed three hours out of Albany International Airport, but the connecting flight out of Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., was canceled.
That left two members of the 4 x mile relay, Amanda Burroughs and Keelin Hollowood, stranded at the airport after midnight, along with Margaret McDonald, Sydney King and Molly Pezzulo.
But Hollowood’s parents, Cindy and Brien, solved the problem by renting a van and driving through the night to reach Greensboro by 5:30 a.m.
“It was a heck of a drive, but they were determined to make it,” said Linda Kranick. “I’m sure it’s a trip they will remember.”
“Until we got in the van and started driving, we were worried if we’d ever get there on time,” Keelin Hollowood, a sophomore, told the website dyestat.com.
“I thought they’d never make it on time,” said teammate Cassie Goutos, who had arrived on Friday, along with Brianne Bellon.
But despite the hectic trip, the Blue Streaks, who were competing as Kinetic Running Club, stepped on the track in time and not only won the race by 14 seconds, but clocked the third-fastest time in national history, a 20:04.34. Goutos led off in 4:59.30, followed by Burroughs in 5:01.30, Bellon in 5:02.41 and Hollowood in 5:01.34.
Shenendehowa (Clifton Park TC) was fifth in 20:46.92, the Kinetic “B” team was seventh in 21:02.72 and Queensbury took 10th in 21:08.34. Also running were Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (14th) and Niskayuna (18th).
Burroughs told dyestat.com the trip may have cost her team a shot at the national record of 19:56.80 set in 2006 by Suffern.
“I do think we may have lost some time, maybe 10 seconds because of how tired the two of us were, but to get the win is the most important thing,” she said.
“I’m just so grateful to these parents for having the sense to rent a van and give these kids a chance to run for a national championship,” said Kranick.
“We were ecstatic with the way they ran. They ran a great 4 x mile. We really had a shot at the national record, but there are things you can’t control.”
The Saratoga girls finally got some sleep during the day and returned for the distance medley relay in the evening, where they ran a solid 11:47.14, but were no match for a sizzling race that produced a national record of 11:31.26 from Blackburg, Va.
The Streaks, who ran 11:43.82 earlier this season, had Burroughs lead off with a 3:34.96 for 1,200 meters, followed by McDonald in 59.17 for the 400. Bellon’s 2:12.34 for 800 meters pulled them into third place, and Hollwood finished with a 5:00.49.
“The fatigue caught up with them,” said Kranick, whose girls are flying back home for more Regents exams. “They were exhausted, but wanted to run in the DMR.”
The Shenendehowa girls, meanwhile, put together an exceptional effort in the distance medley, finishing third with the second-best time in Section II history, an 11:43.73. The Section record is 11:36.81, set by Saratoga in 2008.
Sophomore Lizzie Predmore was the star, putting together a scintillating 4:49.48 1,600-meter anchor to rally her team out of seventh place. Danika Simonson led off in 3:39.05, Kathy Klein provided a 57.70 in the quarter and Alex Burtnick posted a 2:19.05 for the 800.
Also running were girls’ teams from Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (12:18.43) and Niskayuna (12:29.82).
Burnt Hills coach Chip Button was hoping for a 3:05 leadoff leg from Scott Maughan in the boys’ DMR, and when the junior went 3:03.65, it was obvious that the Spartans were in for a big race.
Sophomore Drew Loefler followed in 51.65, senior Chris Fernandez ran a 1:52.72 — one of many outstanding 800s in the postseason — and junior Otis Ubriaco had his best 1,600 anchor, a 4:12.05, better than the 4:14.5 he ran indoors when Burnt Hills ran a national-meet 10:09.
The Spartans’ final time of 10:00.06 not only crushed the Section II record of 10:07.65 set by Shenendehowa in 2008, but was also faster than the state record of 10:02.5 set by St. Anthony’s of Smithtown and legendary anchor John Gregorek in the 1978 Penn Relays.
But Burnt Hills will have to settle for third place on the all-time state list and only a sixth place in the national meet, as five teams broke 10 minutes, including second-place Warwick, the new state record holder at 9:59.03, and fifth-place Liverpool, which ran 9:59.59.
“It was a replay of indoors,” said Button, whose team also placed sixth in the Nike Indoor Nationals in Boston. “It was unbelievable, when they were on podium and reading off the times, how many teams fit into the space of one second.”
Hamden, Conn., TC won the race in 9:56.50 and Plainsboro, N.J., was third in 9:59.07 with Jim and Joe Rosa, who finished 1-2 in the two mile the night before with times of 8:44.06 and 8:51.46. Kroy TC (9:59.97) of York, Ill., also beat out the Spartans.
“It was awesome,” said Button. “It leaves you shaking your head that there are that many teams are running that fast.”
Also placing Saturday was Shenendehowa, fourth in the 4 x 400 relay with a 3:18.88. Brian Campoli’s outstanding 47.73 anchor leg capped off the efforts of Zack Hildenbrant, Adam Jacobs and Mike Valiquette.
Following their 4 x mile relay, three Queensbury girls only had a short time to recover before they competed in the 2,000-meter steeplechase. Danielle Winslow finished fifth in 7:01.27, her twin sister Brittany was 12th in 7:08.41 and Morgan Mueller was 25th in 7:38.69. Mary Kate Anselmini of Stony Brook won the race in a national sophomore record time of 6:42.78.
On the boys’ side, Sean Pezzulo of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (Deluge XC) ran 15th in 6:18.37, and Casey Gilboy of Shaker was 26th in 6:43.36.