Shaker boys win team title at Grout Meet
SCHENECTADY — If one needs proof that the Shaker High School boys cross country team is poetry in motion, just look at Mike Libruk’s shoes (see above photo).
Libruk, a junior, has developed a tradition this season of choosing a word or phrase (motivated, dedicated, etc.) before each race he runs and scribbling that onto his neon-colored shoes with permanent marker.
Libruk covered the 2.75-mile course at Schenectady’s Central Park in 13:30.76 and Jon Vallecorsa finished right behind him in fourth place in 13:33.31 as the Blue Bison won the Division I title in the 72nd annual Everett T. Grout Memorial Run.
“It’s something I do before every one of my races,” said Libruk. “If I write something on my shoes before my race, I run well. The only race I didn’t run well in this season I didn’t write something on my shoes. I’ve kind of made it a little tradition, a little something I do.”
Libruk, pictured at right, is one of many Shaker runners who use mental conditioning, which relies on visualization and goal-setting, as a major training tool.
"It really gets us in the right mindset for racing," he said. "It’s really helped me out. I’ve only gone to a few sessions with Maggie, that’s her name, but she really helps me out. She helps the rest of us out. This sport is 90% mental and 10% physical. If you can get in the right mindset, you can run well."
"Even if you’re not feeling it physically, if you know you’re there mentally and you’re focused on what you want to do, it’s a lot better," said Vallecorsa, pictured below.
Shaker, ranked No. 1 in the New York State Sportswriters Association Class AA poll and listed at No. 16 in the Powerade Fab 50 national rankings, placed five runners in the top 10. Christian Delago (seventh, 13:43.02), Kyle Foster (eighth, 13:43.88) and Ryan Recchia (tenth, 13:58.14) also ran well for the Blue Bison.
A season ago, Shaker won the Division II title as Libruk covered the same course in 14:07, placing 13th. This year, he shaved 37 seconds off his previous time and Vallecorsa took 47 seconds off his time.
“It’s a great feeling,” Libruk said. “Every weekend we’re always gunning for it. We want to prove ourselves this year. This is our coach’s (Ed Springstead) 53rd year of coaching and we want to give him a very good season, as well as our parents and everyone else. We want a special year for him.”
Although cross country is in nature an individual quest of mind over matter, the Blue Bison have really thrived as a team in the true spirit of the word.
"We’ve really pulled together this year as a team," Libruk said. "I mean, our top seven, we all train together and we’re all right next to each other in practice and now we’re right next to each other in races. We’re all good friends. We think of our team before we think of ourselves as individuals. If I have a bad race and our team still does good, I’m happy."
Shaker, like many cross country teams, will head to the prestigious Manhattan Invitational on Saturday. They’re hoping a good showing there sets them up for a run at Suburban Council, Section II and New York State titles.
“We’re looking for that at the end of the season, but we work toward each race and we move on from there,” said Vallecorsa, a junior. “We adjust no matter what happens.”
Niskayuna’s Marshall Pagano placed second in the race in 13:30.20.
In the boys’ Division II race, Washingtonville’s Martin Hehir covered the course in 13:06.32, setting a new course record. Michael Fitzula of Cornwall had set the course record on the 2.75-mile course with a time of 13:11 in 1995. The old course record (13:07) was set on the old 2.85-mile circuit.
La Salle Institute’s Eamonn Coughlin placed sixth in the D-II race in a time of 14:00.13.
Fonda-Fultonville won the Division C run, placing six runners in the top 14. Berlin’s Alex French (15:17.57) and Lew Palmer (15:18.13) finished back-to-back at 16 and 17, leading the Mountaineers to a third place team finish.
For the girls, Colonie freshman Jackie Malecki won the Division I race in 16:28.51, 10 seconds in front of her nearest competitor, leading the Garnet Raiders to a team title.
“I wasn’t sure really what my competition was, but toward the beginning, after I felt like the first two girls that were near me fell back, I was comfortable,” Malecki said.
Malecki became the first Colonie girl to win an individual title at the Grout sine Katie Twarog won in 1998.
Schuylerville’s Samantha Watson won the Division II race in 15:53.75. North Rockland, however, won the team championship.
Rhinebeck’s Anna Clark won the Class C race in 17:12.88, leading her team to a repeat title. Stillwater’s Tori Hathaway placed third in 17:35.34 and Maple Hill’s Hannah Riorrdan was eighth in 18:02.91. Berlin’s Kaleigh Corrado finished 10th in 18:13.69.
For full race results, visit the Armory Track webpage or www.section2harrier.com.
Girls Division I
1, Jackie Malecki, Colonie, 16:28.51
2, Caile Kohlbrenner, Tappan Zee, 16:38.94
3, Katie Schillaci, Colonie, 16:39.52
Team order: 1, Colonie, 2, Tappan Zee, 3, Niskayuna, 4, Bayport-Blue Point, 5, Middletown, 6, Yorktown, 7, Glens Falls, 8, Averill Park, 9, Schalmont, 10, Gloversville, 11, Albany.
Girls Division II
1, Samantha Watson, Schuylerville, 15:53.75
2, Lauren Hehir, Washingtonville, 15:55.80
3, Alexis Hatcher, North Rockland, 16:04.46
Team order: 1, North Rockland, 2, Guilderland, 3, Broadalbin-Perth, 4, Connetquot, 5, Washingtonville, 6, Albany Academy, 7, Ballston Spa, 8, Cohoes, 9, Scotia-Glenville.
Girls Division C
1, Anna Clark, Rhinebeck, 17:12.88
2, Autumn Bender, Tri-Valley, 17:26.37
3, Tori Hathaway, Stillwater, 17:35.34
Team order: 1, Rhinebeck, 2, Tri-Valley, 3, Stillwater, 4, Mechanicville, 5, Maple Hill, 6, Berlin, 7, Fonda-Fultonville, 8, Duanesburg, 9, Galway.
Boys Division I
1, William Slattery, Chaminade, 13:27.89
2, Marshall Pagano, Niskayuna, 13:30.20
3, Michael Libruk, Shaker, 13:30.76
Team order: 1, Shaker, 2, Bayport-Blue Point, 3, Chaminade, 4, Niskayuna, 5, Suffern, 6, Glens Falls, 7, Scotia-Glenville, 8, Middletown, 9, Fox Lane, 10, Ballston Spa, 11, Bethlehem, 12, Schalmont, 13, Schenectady.
Boys Division II
1, Martin Hehir, Washingtonville, 13:06.32
2, Zach Krause, Connetquot, 13:34.98
3, Tyler Murtha, Connetquot, 13:44.37
Team order: 1, Connetquot, 2, Guilderland, 3, Washingtonville, 4, Broadalbin-Perth, 5, Tappan Zee, 6, Yorktown, 7, La Salle, 8, Cohoes, 9, Mohonasen, 10, Albany, 11, Lake George.
Boys Division C
1, Cody Orton, Dover Plains, 14:08.42
2, Michael Scott, Fonda-Fultonville, 14:24.18
3, Jacob Urys, Schenectady Christian, 14:28.41
Team order: 1, Fonda-Fultonville, 2, Schenectady Christian, 3, Berlin, 4, Dover Plains, 5, Rhinebeck, 6, Schuylerville, 7, Tri-Valley, 8, Hawthorne Valley, 9, Mechanicville, 10, Maple Hill, 11, Stillwater, 12, Greenville, 13, Galway.
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