SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — When it comes to spring sports, baseball and softball are diamonds in the rough and golf played on the emerald greens is another priceless gem. But for its multi-faceted glittering movement, track and field is considered by many to be the crown jewel. While the aforementioned sports feature compelling moments and drama, they are also prone to periods of stasis. Not so with track and field, which is a non-stop cavalcade of action as runners, jumpers and throwers compete simultaneously in what amounts to an athletic cirque du soleil.
As a former marathoner who discovered running at age 30 to be a life-altering experience, I have never hid my unflinching affinity for the sport that owns my heart, and consequently I wasted no time in pouncing on the season’s first track meet, a Division III clash between Liberty and James I. O’Neill. Liberty moved up from Division IV, where it competed with Sullivan West and Tri-Valley to wrangle instead with O’Neill, Monticello, Goshen and Port Jervis. Monticello’s boys team, which eked out a pair of storied division championships against Cornwall the past two seasons, no longer has to worry about the daunting Dragons, who moved up to Division II. When it comes to sectionals, though, nothing has changed. Liberty remains in Class C where it will vie against Sullivan West, O’Neill, Tri-Valley, Burke, Pine Plains, Fallsburg, Millbrook and Rhinebeck.
For the purpose of the state meet, there are only two classes. Schools with 600 students or above comprise Division I. Monticello is the only Sullivan County school in that category. All the rest compete in Division II. When push comes to shove, the meets that matter most are the Section 9 meet and the state qualifier. Along the way, there are compelling invitationals, like the one to be staged at Tri-Valley on April 21. This year’s invitees include powerful Bronxville and its iconic national standout Mary Cain. The Monticello games follow a week later and, of course, there will be the OCIAA league meet staged at Warwick, which functions as another barometer for the elite athletes to test their mettle against schools large and small.
But on this gusty April 4, Liberty looked to establish a baseline from which to progress as its boys and girls handily beat O’Neill. In the boys meet, won by the Indians 96-35, the following locals prevailed: 110-meter hurdles, Kane Sauchuck, 17.1; 400 hurdles, Sauchuck, 64.4; 400, Raiquan Molloy, 58.9; 3200, Tom Papp 1,25.9; 3200 relay, Sauchuck, Luis Campos, Nery Campos, Molloy, time not provided; 400 relay, Erick Cuellar, Campos, Kenny Jaycox, Andy Hazelnis, 46.7; 1600 relay, Sauchuck, Cuellar, N. Campos, Molloy, 3,57.7; discus, Mike Hinton, 123.2; pole vault, Vinny Webb, 11-0; shot put Andy Martinez, 34-4.
The Liberty girls prevailed 95-26. The following Lady Indians were triumphant: 110-meter hurdles, Rebeccah Harman, 17.3; 1,000, Sierra Thomas, 6,39.6; 400 hurdles, Harman, 1,14.9; 200, Lara Heslop, 27.8; 800, Thomas, 2,58.1; 400 relay, Harmon, Amanda Bertholf, Heslop and Nikole Snyder, 53.5; 1600 relay, Myra McConnell, Mariah Brickhouse, Magali Ramirez, Katarina Manzi 5,21.1; long jump, Snyder, 13-6 1/2; discus, Britany Roa, 64-9; high jump, Snyder, 4-6; pole vault, Bertholf, 9-6; shot put, Claudia Reyes, 21-2.
Players and coaches from Sullivan County Community College, Sullivan West, Tri-Valley, Monticello and Liberty presented a check for $3,480.33 to the Catskill Regional Oncology Department as the proceeds from this year’s Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic, staged at Sullivan County Community College on February 11. Monticello’s boys and Tri-Valley’s girls prevailed in the high school segment of the tournament as did Sullivan County Community College’s men’s and women’s teams.
In opening week baseball action this week, Fallsburg swept Eldred 3-0 in a Division V league series, while Tri-Valley held sway two games to one in its opening-league encounter with Tuxedo. Monticello fell to Burke 8-6 on a late-inning comeback rally by the Eagles in a non-league opener. In softball, Liberty lost its two opening games as it fell to Livingston Manor 7-4 and then to Port Jervis 15-0. Sullivan West also began its season at 0-2 with a 5-0 loss to Port Jervis and 15-0 defeat to Goshen. Fallsburg was the victim of a perfect game hurled by Tuxedo’s Kelly Ross as the Lady Tornadoes beat the Lady Comets 17-0. Schools are on spring break, but action will resume on April 14 with the Benny Chesnick Softball tournament staged in Tri-Valley and Liberty. Monticello baseball will host Saugerties as well.
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