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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 16, 2010

Local runners log top times at Tawasentha

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– The Dutch cross-country team believes that its 2.7-mile course at Tawasentha Park is one of the hardest in the state. Perhaps this is because the course has a finish called “Suicide Hill.”

On Saturday, 23 teams with about 800 runners packed Tawasentha for the 40th Annual Guilderland Invitational. Each runner from the freshman level up to varsity had to trek through the woods and down the steep Suicide Hill.

“I think runners from out of town are surprised by the loose ground on Suicide,” said Dutchmen varsity runner Sean Doyle, who placed 12th with a time of 15:15. “I saw a kid face plant once.”

Bob Oates, who took over coordination of the event from Bill Drake in 1996, said that the course had an uphill finish from 1970 to 1994. After that, the layout was changed because part of the course was blocking the road. In turn, Suicide Hill was created.

“Circumstances are very challenging here,” said Oates. “There’s a couple of up hills and a couple of drops. Cross-country should be a challenge because the runners love it.”

No one loved the course on Saturday more than Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s Courtney Tedeschi, who won the girls’ small-school race for the third year in a row with a time of 17:12, which was 22 seconds ahead of Cobleskill’s Larissa Melendez in second place.

When Tedeschi strolled down Suicide Hill, no one was remotely in sight. “I stayed back until I hit the highest elevation and then took off from there,” she said after the race. “It wasn’t the normal way I go about it.”

Tedeschi won by a full minute last year. “That wasn’t my best effort,” she said of this year’s run.

More time

Overall, the Guilderland and BKW boys’ and girls’ teams had a successful day at Tawasentha –– each placing second in its division –– except for the Lady Bulldogs, who came in fourth with 83 points. (The lowest score wins.)

Sophomore Michelle Fish and junior Anna Pickett finished second and third for the Lady Dutch with times of 17:09 and 17:17. Chrissy Herkenham, Meghan Collins, and Lea Cure placed 11th, 17th, and 18th respectively.

On the boys’ side for Guilderland, senior Andrew Coy had a time of 14:40 for second place and junior Nico Turek finished fifth at 14:45. Austin Miller and Keon Wan Park came in side by side in 17th and 18th place.

“We’re lucky to have this beautiful course as our home site,” said Turek before his race. Guilderland cross-country has called Tawasentha home since 1966.

“The kids have a psychological advantage,” Oates said of the Dutch runners.

BKW juniors Connor Devine, Sean Reynolds, and Derek Struck each had a top-10 finish in the small-school race, with Devine leading the way in sixth place. Taylor Dellarocco had a time of 16:39 for 31st place.

With Tedeschi dominating the field, the rest of the Lady Bulldogs runners had to play catch-up. Tedeschi’s younger sister, Allie, came in 14th with 19:36 and Abby Swint was right behind her in 15th place. Kristen Bassler had a time of 20:37 for 24th place.

Oates told The Enterprise that cross-country isn’t just “track for the fall season.” The course at Tawasentha Park is a physical and mental challenge and many athletes were out of breath when it was over.

“It’s acceleration and deceleration; not just who’s the fastest,” Oates said before he got on his bike to ride away. “It’s a test for the legs and the head.”

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