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Displaying items by tag: Track and Field

Thursday, 07 March 2019 13:53

Former Blue Streak Breaks 4-Minute Mile

Photos provided. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS/SYRACUSE N.Y - Saratoga Springs High School alumni Aidan Tooker recently became the latest sub – 4 miler on Syracuse University’s track team.

In 1954 Roger Banister became the first runner to finish a mile in under four minutes, with a time of 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. This year, Tooker made the notable achievement of running a mile in 3 minutes and 59.39 seconds.
“It was one of those reliving, ‘finally’ moments,” said Tooker. “I was very excited about it.”
Tooker fell in love with running in the fourth grade when he and his father began participating in charity 5k runs. Running was something that came naturally to Tooker, and his competitive nature drove him to start running for sport in school when he was in the seventh grade.
While running was something that Tooker took to instinctively, his small stature often had people initially doubting his capabilities. This experience is what sparks Tooker’s admiration of USA distance runner Dathan Ritzenhein.
“He’s proportionally about the same height as me – a really skinny dude,” said Tooker. “I really looked up to him because a lot of people doubted me and didn’t really give me much respect for how tiny I was. But I would watch that guy and think he was very, very good.”
While his size may have created doubt for some people, Tooker’s former coach Art Kranick, certainly was not one of them as he was the first person to tell Tooker that he has the potential to break a four-minute mile.
“I was in 7th grade at the time, and that seems like a pretty absurd thing to say to a 7th grader. But I took it to heart honestly. That was a big moment in my life."
For many, running would be their least desired aspect of fitness. But for Tooker, that certainly isn’t the case. As he's been running competitively for almost nine years, his dedication has him running nearly 365 days a year, and sometimes twice a day.
“It (running) just seems like the most raw form of competitiveness. It’s just you and your brain and whatever you had that day,” said Tooker.
Tooker ran his personal best mile time at the Boston University John Thomas Terrier Classic meet. Syracuse runs in this meet every year, and for the past two years, Tooker has been running his mile in 4 minutes and two seconds. This year, Tooker took to the track with the same attitude he does every meet.
“I just try to keep a smile on my face. Usually, if I’m having fun with it then that's all that I need to be doing,” said Tooker. “Most of the time I’ve put in weeks, months of really hard work and the hardest part when it comes to getting closer each time is keeping your head in the right place.”
The world record for the mile run was set in 1999 by Hicham El Guerrouj with a time of 3 minutes and 43.13 seconds. Tooker says that’s not a goal for him to actively pursue, but working towards one's personal best is the nature of competitive running.
“That’s probably the coolest thing about the sport, you’re always shooting to run as close to zero minutes as possible in whatever event you’re doing,” said Tooker. “I’m gonna keep competitively running for as long as possible and my mile time will hopefully come down.”
Published in Sports
Thursday, 16 March 2017 13:09

Blue Streak Breaks National Record

SARATOGA SPRINGS – There is no rest for the dominant track and field stars of Saratoga Springs High School. 

Just one week after blowing away competition at the NYSPHSAA 2017 Indoor Track & Field Championships in Staten Island, sophomore Kelsey Chmiel and senior Nick Cavotta took another trip down to New York City to compete in the 2017 New Balance Nationals Indoor (NBNI).  The event, a premier national-level event for high school track and field athletes, was held in the Armory Track & Field Center and ran from March 10-12.

Competing this time in the 2-mile, Chmiel put in another stellar performance, despite taking part in a more endurance-testing event.  Finishing in third place behind Brie Oakley of Aurora, CO, and Jessica Lawson of Elmira, NY, her time was 10 minutes and 12.94 seconds, narrowly but definitively besting the national record for sophomore girls in the 2-mile event, as well as the state record.  Previously, the national record was held by Hannah De Balsi of Westport, CT, with a time of 10 minutes and 12.95 seconds, giving Chmiel the edge by 0.01 seconds.  This marks back-to-back broken records for Chmiel, who set the national sophomore record in the girls 3,000 meter event at the state championships the previous weekend.

“The state level is usually pretty competitive,” Chmiel said.  “But nationals has some really competitive and fast people in it.”

Characteristically modest about her performances, Chmiel said that she was pleased at the gradual improvement she had made over the course of the indoor season.  Coach Linda Kranick, always more keen to tout the runner’s achievements, led the rest of the girls track and field team in a round of applause for Chmiel’s record-breaking run right before her first practice back on Monday afternoon. 

“I like the longer distances, so the 3K is usually my focus,” Chmiel said about what she will focusing on going forward into the outdoor season.

Cavotta once again competed in the long jump event that has been his signature in the past few weeks.  Coming in 14th place out of 33 finalists, Cavotta’s farthest jump measured 21 feet 11.5 inches, lower than the 23-foot jump that helped him claim his first ever state title and break his school’s long jump record.  While admitting that Cavotta might have made the top 8 if he had given his best jump, coach Chris Conley remains nonetheless impressed with the progress he has made during his high school career.

“Halfway through his sophomore year, he came out for outdoor track day,” Conley said.  “And in the last couple seasons, he’s really started to put a lot of technical stuff together.  He’s come a good amount of ways in a short amount of time.”

For now, Cavotta is resting up for a week before moving into the outdoor track season, as Conley traditionally likes to do for his athletes between seasons.  Moving forward, Cavotta will focus on competing in a few different events, including 200 and 400 meters, in addition to the long jump, as he begins to be recruited by more and more universities. 

Published in Sports
Friday, 03 March 2017 10:53

Saratoga Athletes Headed for Track States

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. 

Published in Sports