Thomas Kika

Thomas Kika

GLENS FALLS – South Glens Falls High School put on an appropriately impressive show for its 40th Annual Marathon Dance.   Over the course of 28 hours from March 3-4, the school raised $823,614.91, beating its 2016 record by over $61,000.  All the money raised at the event goes to in-need families and community organizations.  The dance was dedicated to the memory of the late State Trooper Timothy Pratt, who took part in the dance as a student, and always volunteered in the years after.    

Friday, 10 March 2017 16:38

Three Streaks Take Gold

SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was a major weekend for Saratoga athletics, with three Blue Streaks netting state titles across two different state meets on March 4.

At the NYSPHSAA 2017 Indoor Track & Field Championships in Staten Island, senior Nick Cavotta bested his personal record as well as the overall Saratoga Springs High School record in long jump to claim the state title, while sophomore Kelsey Chmiel set a meet record on her way to claiming the state title in in the 3,000 meter event.  Meanwhile, a short ways east at the Nassau County Aquatic Center, junior Zac Zwijacz swam his way to the state title in the 200 meter freestyle event. 

For Cavotta, it was a day of firsts and bests.  With his win last Saturday at the Ocean Breeze Track & Field Complex, he claimed his first ever state title with a 23 foot jump.  In the process, he bested his own personal record for long jump by four inches, and set the overall record for his school by two. 

“Obviously I was a little nervous, my first state meet,” Cavotta said.  “But I was just excited to be there, cause I knew I didn’t have anything to lose.  I was just trying to have fun.

Cavotta’s winning jump came last after five others.  Before making the jump, he started to get the audience clapping in hopes of feeding off the positive energy.  Prior to jump, he noted that he had been having difficulty jumping from the board, the point from which a jump’s length is measured.  He had been starting his jump a little bit behind the board, negatively impacting his results, and so was sure to practice jumping from the right point prior to real jump.  Beyond that, Cavotta said that his main strategy was to just keep a level head and focus on the jump.

“They were all really, really good,” Cavotta said of the other competitors.  “It was just good to be with the best competition in the state and knowing that I could actually perform with them.

For Chmiel, the hope for her performance in the 3,00 meter event was simply to focus and best her personal record.  In the end, she bested the competition by 23 seconds.  Going forward, her focus remains the same, getting her times down.

“I knew they were fast,” Chmiel said of her competitors.  “So I just wanted to get out fast too.”

Although it was not his usual individual medley event, on account of recent hip problems, Zwijacz put in a strong performance in the 200 meter freestyle, claiming the state title with a time of 1:38.62.  His coach, Bill Asay, remarked that Zwijacz showed impressive consistency in speed throughout his swim, which he believes is what propelled him to victory.

“He’s got a lot potential and talent, and he’s not taking it for granted,” Asay said.  “That’s the mark of a champion.” 

The atmosphere was amazing and everyone was really competitive so everyone knew it was the time to compete,” Zwijacz said.  “The other athletes all had their own strengths and were everything you would want in a race.  I respect them all.”

Moving forward, Cavotta and Chmiel are focused on preparing for the national level competition, which is being held in New York City this weekend.

“I’m feeling a little more confident after the state meet,” Chmiel said about the upcoming national meet.

Zwijacz said that he is focused on maintaining his sustainability going forward, as well as improving his times.  Asay hopes that his hip problems will subside so that he can go on to once again compete in individual medley events next season.

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A handful of Saratoga Springs athletes are set to run all the way to state finals this weekend. 

At the final state-qualifying event at UAlbany this past Sunday, a number of athletes from Saratoga Springs High School secured their spots in the 2017 NYSPHSAA Indoor Track & Field Championships at Staten Island on March 4.  Among the events that they will compete in are 4x800 relay races, long jump, 3,200 meter races, hurdles, and more. 

At the qualifier on Sunday, Saratoga senior Will Navin took the baton in the anchor leg position of the 4x800 relay while his team was in 2nd place behind Shenendehowa.  Staying focused on the prize, by the end he crossed the finish line in 1st place and secured his team’s trip to the state finals.  Along with Navin, the 4x800 relay team consists of senior Nick Brady, sophomore Peter Moller, and sophomore Ezra Ruggles.  For Brady, Moller, and Ruggles, this will be their first ever state meet.

“I was feeling really confident,” Navin said about starting the final leg of the relay.  “I just locked my eyes on [the Shen guy’s] back, stayed with him, and when it was time to go it was time to go.”

In the 3,200-meter event, senior Declan Hines and sophomore Shea Weilbaker will be competing.  This is the first state-level meet for both athletes.  Both Weilbaker and Hines say they are keeping their practice routines consistent with what they have been doing to keep themselves fresh and calm leading into the meet on Saturday.  Senior Nick Cavotta will be competing in the long jump event, and after his strong performance at Sunday’s event, is already qualified for championship division nationals.  Cavotta usually competes in both long jump and 3K, and so is changing his practice routine to focus strictly on long jump.  This means shorter, “more explosive” work outs.

“They say its gonna be a pretty competitive field,” Hines said.  “Gonna be good to just get out there and race.” 

“I’m just excited, I don’t really have anything to lose,” Cavotta said.  “I didn’t expect to even get to this point.”

Senior Mimi Liebers, junior Keellyn Cummings, junior Caroline Starace, and sophomore Kelsey Chmiel will also be competing in the girls’ events at the state meet.  Chmiel and Liebers will be entering familiar ground this weekend, as each athlete has competed at multiple state level championships in the past.  Liebers  will be competing in the hurdle, Cummings in the 1K, Starace in the 1,500 leg of the relay, and Chmiel in the 3K. 

“They’ve been working really hard,” Coach Chris Conley said, speaking to the achievements of his athletes.  “I think [making it to states] is a tribute to the work they put in.”

The venue for the state championship event will be the Ocean Breeze Track Facility in Staten Island.  According to coach Conley, the large location with its 200-meter track has a good chance of bringing strong times from the athletes competing. 

“Should be some good performances down there,” Conley said. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A team of Maple Avenue Middle School students will be competing in a regional competition to determine who will go to the upcoming U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) 27th National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C.  The event will be held on March 4, at General Electric National Research in Niskayuna.  The winners of the event will receive an all-expense-paid trip to D.C. to compete at the national level representing the Capital Region of New York.

The team from Maple Ave. is made up of the following students: 8th graders jack Murratti, Max Su, Stephen Verral, and Jason Zheng; 7th graders Isabelle Girolamo, Hana Nguyen, Jack Maiellaro, and Ethan Murnan; and 6th grader Andrew Hope.  Their team’s coach is Maple Ave. science teacher John Scrivo.

“This is our third year participating and we made tremendous strides last year,” Scrivo said.  “Finishing second in the car race and reaching the semifinals in the academic competition.  This has set the bar high for this year’s team to try to improve on last year’s success.”

At this weekend’s regional event, the team will take part in two events.  The first is a weighted car design challenge, wherein the team must design a small car powered by a falling weight, with the goal of getting the car to go 10 meters.  This challenge is strictly designed for the regional middle school level event, and has no impact on the team moving on to the national competition.  The second event, and the one that will decide if the team moves on, is an academic question-and-answer style competition.  According to the DOE’s official website, teams will “tested on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics, energy, and math.”

The team’s preparations for the event have involved in-class and out-of-class work.  In class, they have practiced for the academic challenge by answering questions using a simulated version of the buzzer system that will be used at the event.  Out of class, they have been working on the designs that they will use in the falling weight challenge.  This has involved not just the design for the car itself, but also the launcher that will get the car moving, as well as testing the ideal amount of weight to use. 

After the regional event on Saturday, the national event will take place in D.C. from April 27 to May 1.  The National Science Bowl has been held annually since 1991, and draws more than 14,000 middle school and high school student each year. 

SARATOGA COUNTY – Victory was earned for two local high school wrestlers this past weekend.  Competing in the NYSPHSAA wrestling championships, which ran from Feb. 24-25, Ballston Spa junior Tyler Barnes and Schuylerville junior Orion Anderson fought through four rounds of competition across two days to claim state championship titles.  Barnes won in the Division I, 170-pound weight class, while Anderson won in the Section II, 120-pound class.  With this win, Barnes becomes the first ever state champion to come out of Ballston Spa.  Anderson, meanwhile, fought through illness and injury to not only win the title, but also be voted one of the Most Outstanding Wrestlers out of the whole competition. 

“He’s a very focused young man,” said Coach Harold Staulters of Barnes.  “He has goals, he always has goals, and he sticks to them.”

After finishing in 5th place at last year’s championship, Barnes, supported by in Staulters’s estimation 40 or more Ballston Spa residence in attendance, went all the way this year to become the town’s first ever state wrestling champion.  Winning his first match by pin on Friday, Barnes made it to the finals on Saturday, where he bested John Glenn High School’s Mike Ancewicz 5-2.  Well aware of the import of his potential victory, Barnes wore a singlet with Ballston Spa’s school colors, purple and gold. 

Staulters said that consistency was important during Barnes’s training leading up to the event.  He stuck to his usual practice routines, and stuck with his longtime friend and practice partner, Jake Cook, who also competed over the weekend.

“They know each other pretty well,” said Staulters of Barnes and Cook. “They’ve been friends since they were six… Probably been workout partner since the same time.”

For Anderson, the run-up to the championship was fraught with hindrances.   At the Section II state qualifying event two weeks prior at the Glens Falls Civic Center where Anderson secured his spot in the state finals, he suffered a cut to his forehead that required stitches.  For the month prior to the state finals, Anderson had also been suffering through bouts of mononucleosis and upper respiratory infection, the latter of which sometimes made it difficult for him to breathe.

“I don’t think he even realizes what a big deal it is,” said Buck Anderson, Orion’s coach and father.

For each champion, wrestling is a family affair.  Barnes’s father, Terry, wrestled in the 1995 state championships and was runner-up that year.  Anderson, meanwhile, has seen many members of his family in the state finals, with his older brother and sister each having competed in the finals in years prior, and he himself has been wrestling since the age of two.

Barnes’s is currently planning to compete in the Cadet Greco Nationals in Fargo, ND, where he also competed last year, making it all the way through the semifinals.  This year, he’s aiming to win it all.  Anderson, conversely, will be taking things slower to let his body heal and to recover from his illnesses.  Once he feels better, he intends to get back to practicing and compete in off-season matches. 

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