April 12, 2012 —
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.