Track athletes break records, athletes advance to states

Boys’ 4x800m relay sets school record; girls run fastest time in Section IX

By Kyle Lewis, Richard Furst, Joe Manaseri, Gus Lawson, and Bob McIntee

Louie Greco (US#3) and Liam Higgins (US#1) compete at the State Qualifier Meet. Photo by Anthony Alvarez of Milesplit​.​ ​

There’s a certain level of magic and mystique when runners hit the track located behind Warwick Valley High School late in the season. Perhaps it can be explained by the rich history of Warwick’s running program, producing numerous champions at both the State and National levels. Or perhaps athletes’ success at Warwick is due to hard work and commitment to excellence. Whatever the reason, when you put dedicated, conditioned athletes into a competitive atmosphere, great things happen. Such was the case last Tuesday. The weather was hot and humid, but the conditions were no match for determination and desire.

Kayla Pucci and Kayla Schramm compete at Sections in the 2K steeplechase. Photo by Anthony Alvarez of Milesplit.

The girls’ 4x800m relay team got things started with a sixth place finish and the fastest time run by a Section IX team this season. Grace Atlas led off and handed off in contention in a season best 2:24.7. Next Kayla Pucci ran an aggressive race and a personal best time of 2:24.6. Madison Montgomery kept the team in the hunt with a season best 2:22.8 and eighth grade sensation Kayla Schramm brought the team home with a fantastic 2:15.8 effort. The team time of 9:28.22 is the best of the year.

For eight Goshen boys, the combination hard work, dedication, positive attitudes, training, talent, and teamwork paid off, as personal best times were achieved and records were broken at Warwick’s Fast Times Relays last Tuesday.

Garrett Holmes, Andrew Johnson, Chris Perez, & Aidan Hackman after throwing down some fast 800’s at Warwick’s Fast Times. Photo by Kyle Lewis.

The action began with the “B” team boys 4x800m relay taking the track by storm. Sophomore Andrew Johnson led off, quickly working his way up to second place to put his team in a great position. Johnson ran a personal record by over 4 seconds, handing off in 2:07.4. Next up was junior Chris Perez. Perez showed grit and determination, completing his first 400m in 62 seconds, and didn’t show any signs of slowing down. Perez bolted into first place with about 250m remaining to finish his leg in 2:04.1, a 5 second PR. Aidan Hackman was 3rd leg, and continued the fast pace set by his teammates, widening the gap between him and the second place team, running a 5 second PR of 2:07.8. Garrett Holmes anchored the team, running a strong 2:14.7 for a PR of 6 seconds. The team time was 8:34.15, an impressive result for a “B” team.

A hyped boys’ 4x800m relay team after setting a new school record at Warwick’s Fast Times. Liam Higgins, Stephen Perrillo-Sullivan, Nicolas Paneto and Louie Greco. Photo by Kyle Lewis.

The seeded heat put Goshen’s finest distance runners against some of the top-ranked 4×8 teams in New York. With energy and excitement filling the air from the success of the unseeded heat, the varsity squad was hyped to run well. Louis Greco led off, going out in a blazing 55 seconds for his first 400m. Greco stole the lead going around the bend in his second lap and didn’t look back. His leadoff time of 1:56.21 is a personal best of 4 seconds, marking Greco’s first time under 2 minutes in the 800m. Next, Nicolas Paneto took the strong lead created by Greco and ran with it, completing his first 400m in 57.5 seconds. Warwick’s Behailu challenged Paneto in the second lap, but Paneto stayed within a few meters at the exchange. Paneto also broke 2 minutes for the first time, running 1:59.31. Sophomore Stephen Perrillo-Sullivan was next to take the baton. Perrillo ran a strong 59 seconds through his first 400m, remaining in second for a while, but ultimately getting passed by 2 other teams. Perrillo would go on to run a 5 second PR of 2:04.75, handing the baton to Liam Higgins with his team in 4th place. Never one to give up, Higgins went out hard, quickly catching one runner and staying side by side with the 2nd and 3rd place teams. He completed his first lap in 55 seconds. With approximately 200m to go, Higgins surged past 2 runners to put his team in second. In the last 100 meters, he cut the Warwick lead down to less than 5 meters, finishing in a blazing 1:52.75. Only a second behind Warwick, the Goshen 4×8 finished in 7:53.21, qualifying them for Nationals and setting a new school record. The former record was set in 2003 when the team of John Dombrowski, Ross Dombrowski, Joe Cary and Stephen Furst ran 7:56.11.

Greco, Higgins and Schramm are States-bound

Kayla Schramm en route to running 2:15 in the 4x800m relay, for the fastest 8th grade time in the Nation. Photo by Anthony Alvarez of Milesplit.

The Section IX State Qualifier Meet kicked off at FDR High School in Hyde Park last Thursday with eighth grader Kayla Schramm running the open 800m. Prior to Thursday, although Schramm had run faster split times in 4×8 relays, her best open 800m time was 2:23. Schramm took the competition by storm, winning the race in 2:15.54, punching her ticket to next week’s State meet. Schramm’s time was 3 seconds faster than the next finisher, is the fastest 800m time in the USA for an eighth grader, and sets a new school record.

Next up in the 800m dash was senior Liam Higgins. The competition went out hard from the start, with the leader going out in 53 seconds for his first 400m and Higgins right behind him in 54. Higgins took the lead in the final 100m, winning the race in 1:53.62 for a new school record, and qualifying for the State meet. The former record was set in 1999 by Eric Furst in 1:54.15 when he won the Class B State Championship.

Next, Louis Greco took to the track for the 3200m. Greco has been unstoppable this season, and had planned his race out with a fellow runner who had already met the standard. The race went out slow and relaxed, with Cornwall’s Bywater in the lead and Greco right behind him. After 800m, Greco took control and sped up slightly. By the halfway point, it was a two-man race between Greco and Warwick’s Behailu. The pace began to increase and it was evident that Behailu wasn’t going away. It came down to the final 200m, and Greco was able to out-kick Behailu for the win, earning himself a trip to States.

Day two of State Quals was held on a hot and humid Friday afternoon in Middletown. Higgins and Greco got the action started with the 3000m steeplechase. Both having already met the state standard, only one of them needed to win, as long as nobody else hit the standard. Higgins led from the start, going out in a slow and controlled pace. Greco held back, trying to save some energy for the mile later on. While most of the competition began to tire, Greco sped up slightly and ended up in second behind Higgins. Ranked US #1 & #3, both boys auto-qualified for the State meet in the event.

Section Champ in the 800m Grace Atlas seen here with teammates Lauren Johnson and Madison Montgomery. Photo by Kyle Lewis.

Greco, Higgins, and Schramm will make the trip up to Cicero-North High School near Syracuse later this week, with the State meet taking place on Friday and Saturday. The action starts with the boys 800m and Liam Higgins, followed by the girls 800m and Kayla Schramm. Greco will complete the competition for Goshen Friday night where he will make an all-out effort to set a new school record for Goshen. The current record of 9:19 was set in 2003 by Stephen Furst. Then, on Saturday, both Greco and Higgins start off the meet with the 3K steeplechase. Both boys have a chance to break the school record of 9:23 set by Higgins earlier this season.

These three individuals, plus the boys’ 4x800m relay team will travel to Greensboro, North Carolina to compete in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals on June 15. The meet is not school sponsored and all expenses will be covered by donations or the athletes themselves.