Higgins is crowned County Champion, Schramm is runner-up

Written by Kyle Lewis, Joe Manaseri and Richard Furst. Photos by Jim Higgins.

Two students running.
Liam Higgins with Warwick’s Behailu Bekele-Arcuri on his shoulder at the OCIAA Championship.

The 50th annual OCIAA Championships were held on Friday, October 27 at Bear Mountain. The goal for the Goshen boys cross country team was to rise to the next level of competition, putting themselves in a position where they could compete against the top teams in the County, and setting things up for a successful bid at the Section IX Championship meet the following week.

Each runner had individual goals set, based on their personal best times, workout stats, and progress throughout the season. These goals were set to not only challenge athletes, but to help them realize their true potential after an intense season of training. When all was said and done, the Gladiators met those goals, finishing in 4th place as a team, and posting a 1-5 average split of 16:25, the fastest team performance since 1997.

Coming off of a huge win at the Manhattan Invitational, senior captain Liam Higgins was determined to become the Champion at the 2017 OCIAA’s. Higgins knew that his competition would be fierce, but he also had gained the confidence and faith in his talent to make it happen. The first half of the three mile race was relatively slow, with Higgins and Behailu Bekele-Arcuri leading a large pack of about 20 runners going into the infamous Bear Mountain hill. Behailu surged while going up the hill, and Higgins followed suit. By the summit of the hill, Higgins had passed Behailu and never let up the lead. With Behailu right on his shoulder coming off the hill, Higgins had to channel every ounce of energy into maintaining pace and holding onto his lead. After coming around the lake towards the finish, Higgins pulled away from the competition, winning the race in 15:22.1. Higgins’ victory sets a new school record, breaking Mike St. Lawrence’s 15:23.5 set in 1998. Higgins is the first Goshen boys champion since Tom Cannariato won in 2003.

Fellow senior captain Louis Greco ran an outstanding race, staying near the front even after the lead pack of 20 broke apart going up the hill. In a true showing of strength and grit, Greco conquered the hill, leaving many competitors in the dust after his descent. Greco went on to finish in 6th place with a new personal best time of 15:58. Junior Nicolas Paneto also conquered the hill, staying close behind Greco for much of the race. Paneto also set a new PR, running 16:12 for 10th place. No other team in the OCIAA had a 3rd runner place better than Paneto. The fourth Gladiator to finish was sophomore Stephen Perrillo-Sullivan. Perrillo ran the strongest race of his career, finishing in 16:51 for 30th place. Fellow sophomore Andrew Johnson set a new 3-mile PR, running 17:40 beating his previous time on the Bear Mountain course by 1:24. Rounding out the varsity top 7 were Aidan Hackman (18:04) and Chris Perez (18:25).

In JV highlights, senior Joe Medina completed his first race since being injured at Wave Mania back in September. Medina ran a comfortable pace until the final 100m where he unleashed a strong finishing kick and finished in 18:12.  Medina showed that he is on the road to recovery and could be a factor in this week’s Section IX title race.  Sophomore Blake Albanese ran a new PR at Bear Mountain, finishing in 18:28. Right behind Albanese, was senior Fernando Villamil. Villamil ended his high school running career with a PR of 18:29.

The Gladiators return to Bear Mountain on Friday, November 3 for the Section IX Class B Championship race. The winning team will advance to the State meet on November 12. Goshen goes into Sections as the underdog, much like a year ago with the Cornwall Dragons ranked slightly ahead. If the Gladiators can perform at Sections like they did at Counties and a couple athletes step up their efforts, they have a good chance of winning their 2nd consecutive Section IX title.

Schramm shows great promise placing second in the county

Female athlete running.
Kayla Schramm running towards the finish line at the OCIAA Championships.

Eighth grader Kayla Schramm showed up with talent and has worked hard this season to gain great fitness and experience.  On Friday Schramm put it all together and raced to second place in the Orange County League championship covering the iconic Bear Mountain 3-mile course in 18:26.8.  The race went out fast as Jessica Pigeon of Monroe-Woodbury, took the early lead and along with Dana Lynch of  Middletown built an 11 second lead on Schramm going into the big hill.  Schramm used her strength to overtake lynch and closed the gap to 6 seconds coming off the hill but could get no closer as Pigeon finished in 18:15.  Schramm’s time equals her best effort of the season and she has shown that she can compete with the best.  Next week Pigeon will run in the class A section ix race and Schramm will run in the class B where as just an eighth grader, she is now the favorite to win.

We have a young and hungry Lady Gladiator team that has improved with each race this season. Our goal was to feel good and strive for our goal times so that we could take that momentum into sections next week. The ladies did just that, setting themselves up to have an excellent showing next week. Many of our varsity and JV runners surpassed their goal times, opening up eyes in the county, and showing that this young team has a lot of potential. The team is led by senior captain Vic Fini who is sure to keep the expectations high, especially with her final race approaching.

Madison Montgomery raced hard and followed Kayla’s finish with a time of 20:19. Soon after Madison, we have the rising star Kendra Byrne (21:32),  hard-running Angelique Santiago (21:44) and tenacious Sara Tippin (21:46). Our senior captain Vic Fini finished with a 22:30 and looks to shave a minute or more off that time in her final race next week. Our final runner, Marissa Lombardi, ran a personal best by 1:30 finishing the course at Bear Mountain with a 23:32. Dana Poppe, who ran in the JV race, put herself right into the Varsity mix posting a time of 21:57. It is excellent to see the training pay off for all of these hard working student-athletes.

Our junior varsity girls left their race very proud of themselves and hungry for more next year. They all reached their goal times for the course and saw their hard work all season pay off. Notable finishes include: Jade Kimmel (24:04); Stephanie Dahowski (24:07); Rachel Conklin (25:31); Mary Dawson (27:25).

Male cross country runners standing with reporter.
Goshen varsity boys being interviewed by Milesplit’s Perry King (on right). Louis Greco, Liam Higgins, Stephen Perrillo, Chris Perez, Aidan Hackman, Andrew Johnson and Nick Paneto.