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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Catholic’s varsity athlete Lauren Maher is a year-round athlete who reminds us that the adrenaline rush of a sport is nothing without the sense of community that athletics generate.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – There might not be any records left to break in the near future if Kelsey Chmiel continues at her current pace.
Competing in the 77th Annual William F. Eddy Meet at Schenectady High School on May 20 alongside 11 other Saratoga athletes, Chmiel, a sophomore, competed in the 3,000-meter race event, finishing with a dominant 9 minutes and 18.09 seconds, putting up the best time in the country for the spring 2017 season so far as well as setting the sophomore girls national record in the event. As one might expect, a performance that put national records to shame also left her competition on the day in the dust, as her closest competitor, Burnt Hills senior Eva Scott, finished the race close to a minute and a whole lap behind her at 10 minutes and 9.66 seconds. This was Chmiel’s third year competing at the Eddy Meet.
This performance continues Chmiel’s recent streak of standout performances and broken records. Back in March, at the 2017 New Balance Nationals Indoor national-level track & field event, Chmiel competed in the 2-mile event and ended up with a time of 10 minutes and 12.94 seconds, besting the state record and narrowly edging out the national record as well. Just a little before that, at the NYSPHSAA State Championships, Chmiel set the previous record in the 3,000-meter event for sophomores. At least year’s Eddy Meet, she set the all-time record for the 1,500-meter event in Section II with a time of 4 minutes 23.81 seconds, and also put up a time of 9 minutes and 48.25 seconds in the 3,000-meter race, a time she would best by over 30 seconds just one year later.
“It makes me excited,” Chmiel said about her collection of record-breaking runs. “But I think it also makes me work harder... I’m just gonna keep working at practice and hopefully lower my times.”
“She’s very competitive, she’s very analytical,” assistant coach Linda Kranick said of Chmiel’s consistently excellent performance. “I think this is the fourth national sophomore record she’s broken this school year... Kelsey has high aspirations, and works very hard.”
Kranick, who has been coaching track & field for 37 years and has coached with husband Art Kranick at Saratoga Springs High School since 1985, reckons that Chmiel is one of the best runners she has worked with in her career, if not the best, given her consistent record-breaking performances. Some of this she attributes to the advances in coaching techniques over the years that have allowed them to train faster and faster athletes, but it mostly comes down to Chmiel’s hard work and innate talents.
“Kelsey is very humble, very modest,” Kranick said. “And she understands that she has even farther to go.”
Elsewhere at the meet, senior Mimi Liebers bested the competition to finish first in the 100-meter hurdles event. Liebers will be competing in track and field at the College of the Holy Cross in the fall.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was a major weekend for Saratoga athletics, with three Blue Streaks netting state titles across two different state meets on March 4.
At the NYSPHSAA 2017 Indoor Track & Field Championships in Staten Island, senior Nick Cavotta bested his personal record as well as the overall Saratoga Springs High School record in long jump to claim the state title, while sophomore Kelsey Chmiel set a meet record on her way to claiming the state title in in the 3,000 meter event. Meanwhile, a short ways east at the Nassau County Aquatic Center, junior Zac Zwijacz swam his way to the state title in the 200 meter freestyle event.
For Cavotta, it was a day of firsts and bests. With his win last Saturday at the Ocean Breeze Track & Field Complex, he claimed his first ever state title with a 23 foot jump. In the process, he bested his own personal record for long jump by four inches, and set the overall record for his school by two.
“Obviously I was a little nervous, my first state meet,” Cavotta said. “But I was just excited to be there, cause I knew I didn’t have anything to lose. I was just trying to have fun.
Cavotta’s winning jump came last after five others. Before making the jump, he started to get the audience clapping in hopes of feeding off the positive energy. Prior to jump, he noted that he had been having difficulty jumping from the board, the point from which a jump’s length is measured. He had been starting his jump a little bit behind the board, negatively impacting his results, and so was sure to practice jumping from the right point prior to real jump. Beyond that, Cavotta said that his main strategy was to just keep a level head and focus on the jump.
“They were all really, really good,” Cavotta said of the other competitors. “It was just good to be with the best competition in the state and knowing that I could actually perform with them.
For Chmiel, the hope for her performance in the 3,00 meter event was simply to focus and best her personal record. In the end, she bested the competition by 23 seconds. Going forward, her focus remains the same, getting her times down.
“I knew they were fast,” Chmiel said of her competitors. “So I just wanted to get out fast too.”
Although it was not his usual individual medley event, on account of recent hip problems, Zwijacz put in a strong performance in the 200 meter freestyle, claiming the state title with a time of 1:38.62. His coach, Bill Asay, remarked that Zwijacz showed impressive consistency in speed throughout his swim, which he believes is what propelled him to victory.
“He’s got a lot potential and talent, and he’s not taking it for granted,” Asay said. “That’s the mark of a champion.”
“The atmosphere was amazing and everyone was really competitive so everyone knew it was the time to compete,” Zwijacz said. “The other athletes all had their own strengths and were everything you would want in a race. I respect them all.”
Moving forward, Cavotta and Chmiel are focused on preparing for the national level competition, which is being held in New York City this weekend.
“I’m feeling a little more confident after the state meet,” Chmiel said about the upcoming national meet.
Zwijacz said that he is focused on maintaining his sustainability going forward, as well as improving his times. Asay hopes that his hip problems will subside so that he can go on to once again compete in individual medley events next season.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saturday, August 10: Fourstardave Handicap: The day’s feature race is the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at a mile on the inner turf. This year’s edition is expected to include 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan, winner of eight of his previous nine starts, and will be broadcast on NBC as part of the network’s “Summer at Saratoga” series.