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sports

Combined energy

Sullivan West junior Mitch Paciga records a personal best with a winning high jump of 6-4 at the West Point Relays. That height is currently tops in Section 9.
Photos By Richard A. Ross, sportsinsightsny.com

By Richard Ross
January 30, 2013

WEST POINT, NY — “United we stand; divided we fall,” a phrase originally attributed to Aesop in his fable “The Oxen and the Lion,” and later to Patrick Henry in 1799 as he denounced the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions, has resonance when it comes to team efforts in sports. While teams are comprised of individual players, their unified and unselfish dedication to the team effort is what produces success. In track and field, a sport that is often perceived as an aggregate of individual efforts, the most salient example of teamwork is manifested in relay races.

Traditionally, indoor track features 800, 1600 and 3200 meter relay races, each run with a team’s four fastest runners at those distances. The 800, also known as the 4x200, features sprinters, as does the 1600 relay, while the 3200 relay summons the added stamina of middledistance runners. Any relay team is only as strong as its weakest leg. Teams that use their fastest runner for the opening leg may secure a lead but if the next three are not fast enough, that lead is likely to be lost. Similarly, to have the best runner as the anchor works when a team is ahead, even or only a bit behind. But even the strongest anchors usually cannot make up a huge deficit, particularly in the shorter races. That said, some ultrafast runners have closed the gap over 800 meters making for stunning relay race finishes. Relay races can be the difference between winning and losing track meets, as winning teams garner 10 points for a first-place finish in larger meets.

This past weekend featured the West Point Relays, a non-scoring developmental meet bolstered by the addition of shuttle hurdle relays, sprint medley and distance medley relays. In the shuttle hurdle relay, each team deploys a trio of 55 meter hurdlers who run in sequence. The sprint medley relay features two 800 meter, one 400 meter and one 200 meter leg. The distance medley relay featured 1200, 400, 800 and 1600 meter legs. These relays, along with the traditional 800, 1600 and 3200 relay, rendered this meet a highly collaborative effort. Some events were run as individual endeavors. Those included the high jump, long jump, triple jump, pole vault, shot put, weight throw and 1500 meter race walk. Sullivan West, Tri-Valley and Monticello participated in the January 26 edition of the relays. Other Section 9 teams went at it the night before. Eldred was at the New Balance Games at the New York Armory. Sullivan County medalists included the following. The number preceding the team or individual’s name indicates the place of finish