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First, last and always

Tri-Valley’s Autumn Bender wins the 2000 steeplechase. She also won the freshman 800 and took second in the second in the freshman/sophomore 1500.

By Richard Ross
April 24, 2013

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Life has its incomparable first experiences, memorable last experiences and those that seem unfettered by time as they go on year after year. A first kiss, a first day at college, or a first win in a sport form lasting memories. So too do graduation days, a last day on the job of a lifelong career, or the departure from a place we’ve lived in all of our lives. Taking part in annual events grounds us to ongoing traditions such as holidays, parades, tournaments and championships. This week offered some of all of the above.

In the first category were the registering of those much sought-after initial wins of the season recorded by the Sullivan West softball and Liberty baseball teams. The Lady Bulldogs downed Monticello 8-2 in a road victory that took some of the sting out of back-to-back league losses against O’Neill and Burke. Katie Slater struck out 10 and was two-for-three from the plate as the Lady Bulldogs mounted a five-run second inning to break a 1-1 tie with the as-yet winless Lady Panthers.

Liberty won the middle game of its three-game series versus Division IV nemesis Sullivan West with a 2-1 nine inning victory sparked by the outstanding pitching of Quinn Jackson and Atwoun Ackerley. Brendan Siegel accounted for both RBI. Cody Franskevicz pitched six stellar innings and left with a lead, but the Dawgs couldn’t close the door. In the first- and third- game series wins over the Indians, Sullivan West marshaled the pitching of Karl Knecht and Sawyer Erlwein.

Meanwhile, up at the Boston Marathon, former Sullivan West standout Rianne Erlwein ran a speedy 3:19 in her first encounter with the storied race, finishing well ahead of the ensuing mayhem, much to the relief of her family and legions of friends. Speaking of firsts, currently Sullivan West is in first place in Division IV. But the biggest story of the week had more to do with the last Tri-Valley Invitational organized and overseen by Bears’ coaches Joe and Missy Iatauro, whose 30-plus year reign as gurus of the storied T-V program will end this June as they move to Georgia to begin the next phase of their lives. The meet, always one of the highlights of the spring track season, has often been beset by some zany weather. This year it was chilly but clear as 25 teams from both Division I (600 students and up in grades 9-11) and Division II (under 600) brought their best to bear on the swan song for the Iatauros in their special large scale annual meet. Fittingly, the Bears defended both their boys and girls Division II T-V Invitational championships.