OGDENSBURG — The 2021 Van Dusen Memorial Invitational and Section 10 Track-Field Championships were staged under an overcast which created ideal competition conditions Friday night at OFA.
For the competitors it was a chance to perform under a new light, free from the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic and the constraint of masks and covid protocol which limited the number of spectators throughout the spring season. The mask mandate and COVID-19 protocols were all lifted on Monday with Section 10 following directions from state and county department of health officials.
“We were all so excited when we heard. Wearing a mask didn’t bother me in cross country but in track it was very uncomfortable,” said Norwood-Norfolk junior running standout Maddie Dinneen who is planning to compete at the Division I level in college.
“It felt like a breath of fresh air and it was great to have a big crowd here.”
The big crowd witnessed the latest a long line of virtuoso performances across the running spectrum by Dinneen who led the 2000 steeplechase in a school and meet record time of 7:21.22 and the 1500, 800 and 400 meter races pacing the Lady Flyers to the Girls Championship in one of the closest team races ever. N-N scored 138.5 points followed by Potsdam at 135 and Madrid-Waddington 134.
“Tonight I entered the races where I thought I could score the most points for team because we had a good chance to win. I had never run the steeplechase before but I ran well and set a school record and I think I broke the meet record,” said Dinneen who honored as the meet’s Outstanding Female Distance runner.
“Competing for the team is what I love about track-field. We have a great team, we are all very close and we made signs to support each other. We all have so much fun.”
Potsdam won the boys championship outscoring Canton 166.5-144.5. Malone and Norwood-Norfolk followed with 90 and 87 points. The Sandstoners also won the Van Dusen Trophy for combined boys-girls scoring with 300.5 points and N-N was second 225.5 points.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to complete my senior year. This is just awesome,” said Skye Crocker who was honored along with Sandstoner standout Luca Pecora with the Tim Opdke and Patty Baldwin awards which are presented to the outstanding senior student track-field athletes in Section 10 by the Northern New York Officials Association.
“We were projected to place a close second so we knew that we had some points that we had to make up. We had a lot of people step up.”
Crocker led the 1600 run, took second in the 800 run and ran on the Sandstoners 4x400 relay team.
Ansen Herrick led the Sandstoners’ scoring recording first place finishes in the 400 hurdles, the long jump where Ethan Plague rounded out a Potsdam 1-2, the triple jump and the shot put where teammate Harlee Besio took second. Herrick was honored as the meet’s outstanding jumper and Besio was cited as the outstanding male thrower.
Starting the Stoners’ march to the team title were Dean Finnegan and Yach Melman who ran first and third in the 3000 steeplechase.
“It was just a classic team moment,” said Potsdam Coach Tony Vacarro.
“We had a very good team last year but we didn’t have a season. This year we had leaders like Skye Crocker and Ansen Herrick back and other guys just started stepping up. And having coach Matt Tessier join our program was huge.”
Hosting the event the OFA boys and girls posted seventh place finishes and OFA Athletic Director Tony Bjork considered the fast and smooth moving event a total success for the school district.
“We were extremely happy to host the event and it went really well our coaches, staff and volunteers did a great job,” said Bjork who also served as the meet clerk.
“Having a big crowd back in the stands was great and not having to wear masks everyone could cheer louder and that made it great for the kids.”
Other meet medalists were: Canton’s Chris Shuckers and Claire Craig in the 110 and 100 hurdles, N-Ns Owe Haas and Madrid-Waddington’s Hailee Blair in the 100 dash, Massena’s Shakoronhoikewe Jacobs in the 400 hurdles, Potsdam’s Isabella Shatraw in the 400 hurdles, Sean Shannon of Madrid-Waddington in the 800 run, Canton’s Nicholas Lyndaker who teamed with Max Finley for a 1-2 in the 3200 run, Sharon Colbert of N-N in the 3000 run, N-N’s Hayden Bullock and Gouverneur’s Meadow Greenhill in the 200 dash, Canton (Hayden Bregg, Miles Gendebien, Max Finley, Nick Lyndaker) and Gouverneur (Randi and Rikki Griffith, Eila Impaglia, Abby Bowman) in the 4x800 relay, Massena and M-W in the 4x100 relay, Canton and Potsdam in the 4x400 relay, Hailee Blair of M-W in the long jump, Potsdam’s Luca Pecora in the triple jump, Ryan LaShomb of N-N in the high jump, Malone’s Madison Ansari in the high jump and shot put, Potsdam’s Olivia Huntley and Malone’s Nathan Martin in the Outdoor Pentathlon and Canton’s Ayomi Odetoyinbo and M-W’s Kaitlyn Putman in the discus throw.
Former OFA Coach Steve Barlow and a longtime NNY Track-Field Official was impressed with the quality of the competition.
“There were so many close races tonight. In the 200 dash there were five runners bunched at the finish,” said Barlow of the action on the track-field facilities which bears his name as a tribute to contributions to the sport in the school district and Section 10.
“I was especially impressed with the tenacity the competitors showed. It was a great meet. Having an eight-lane track really moved things along because you get all the finalists in one heat.”
GREAT MEET FOR M-W
Great meet would describe the feelings in the M-W track-field family.
The Yellowjackets girls made a very strong run at the team title before falling short of N-N by 4 1/2 points and one point of second place Potsdam. The Jackets’ scoring was anchored by its outstanding sprint core captained by Hailee Blair who led the 100 dash and long jump, took second in the 200 dash and combined with Hailey Marcellus, Lindsey Burns and shot put medalist Kaitlyn Putman to win the 4x100 relay.
The M-W Boys also featured a meet champion in RPI bound Sean Shannon who broke away from a very good field in the 800 dash with break-through run of 1:59.90.
Blair was honored as the Outstanding Female Sprinter and the M-W ranks also featured Sage Cordwell who shared the outstanding male thrower award with Potsdam’s Harlee Besio and Ella Kitzman received the outstanding jumper award with a second in the high jump and fifth in the triple jump.
“Hailee Blair is everything you could want in an athlete. She is very fast and very strong, she works hard in the weight room and she is a good leader,” said M-W Coach Bryan Huntley.
Cordwell placed second in the discus throw and second in the discus and third in the shot put.
Other individual scoring efforts for the M-W Girls were: Emily Pandell (8th Steeplechase, 8th 3000), Hailey Marcellus (2nd 100H, 3rd 400H), Maddie Armstrong (4th 100H, 5th 400D, 3rd LJ 4th TJ), Laney Tiernan (8th 100D), Lindsey Burns (2nd TJ, 4th 200), Ella Kitzman (2nd HJ, 5th TJ) and Phoebe Zagrebelny (4th SP, 7th discus throw).
Relay finishes were: a third by Destiny Bailey in the Outdoor Pentathlon, a fifth by 4x800 team of Emily Pandel, Kaitlyn Putman, Laney Tiernan and Maddie White and a fifth by 4x800 team of Emily Pandell, Kaitlyn Putman, Maddie White and Laney Tiernan.
M-W took sixth in the boys standings with Sean Shannon’s first in 800 and individual finishes from: Graham Hill (8th 400D) and Kyle Stoner (3rd LJ, 8th100D).
Relay finishes were: Thomas Cafarella, Sage Cordwell, Graham Hill ad Kyle Stoner eighth in 4x100 relay; Thomas Cafarella, Graham Hill, Aaron Putman and Sean Shannon sixth in the 4x400 relay and Thomas Cafarella, Graham Hill, Aaron Putman and Joey White fifth in 4x800 relay.
ENJOYABLE OFA SEASONS
The opportunity closed an enjoyable season for the OFA teams who were credited for developing positive team chemistry.
“We had low numbers but our teams had a lot fun. Losing last season to COVID really hurt,” said OFA Boys Coach John Tebo who will complete his teaching career in the Ogdensburg City School District in a few weeks but plans to continue as the varsity track-field coach.
“Hopefully we will see everyone this winter at St. Lawrence University.
Matt Goolden emerged as the top performer for the OFA Boys taking fifth in the 100 meter dash and 400 hurdles and running on the second place 4x100 relay team with Manveer Grewall, Hunter Joanette and Trey LaBella. Other scoring came from: Ethan Lemke (3rd Outdoor Pentathlon, Manveer Grewall (7th 110H), London Jackson (7th 400D), a seventh from the 4x800 relay team of Gavin LaMay, Connor McRoberts, Ben Switzer and Landon Polniak and an eighth from the 4x400 relay team of: Gavin LaMay, London Jackson, Hunter Joanette and Manveer Grewall.
Placing points for the OFA Girls came from: Emma Lalone (4th 100D, 6th 200D), Mia LaBella (8th 100H), Caitlin Kelly (6th 100H, 7th LJ), Olivia Merrill (8th HJ), Ava Valcour (7th SP, 5th Discus) and Sloane Ryan (4th Discus), the 4x100 Relay team of Caitlin Kelly, Emma Lalone, Mia LaBella and Kadence Mix which took sixth and the 4x400 Relay teeam of Caitlin Kelly, Mia LaBella, Emma Lalone and Brianna McRoberts which took eighth.