— Twenty-one boys’ track and field athletes collected all-star recognition at the Section VII Track and Field State Qualifier at AuSable Valley Central School May 31.
Chris Verkey, whose Saranac squad finished undefeated at 8-0 in 2013, was honored with the 2013 Coach of the Year award.
New York State sportsmanship awards were given out at the New York State Championships in Middletown June 8 and were voted on by all coaches in Section VII.
This year’s recipient of the New York State sportsmanship award was Connor Christopherson of Saranac.
AuSable Valley was honored by Section VII representatives with the Ray Holmes Sportsmanship Award.
Coach of the Year
Chris Verkey, Saranac- Since taking over the role of head coach four years ago, the Chiefs and Verkey are a perfect 30-0 in dual-meet competition in Section VII.
Saranac has won four straight Champlain Valley Athletic Conference titles and five consecutive sectional championships.
Over the past four years, the Chiefs have taken home 11 medals from the New York State Championships and have broken 15 school records in different events.
Verkey credits his student-athletes and coaching staff for his success.
“We all do our part both in practice and behind the scenes to make our program what it is today,” Verkey said. “Without my coaches and the kids working as hard as they do, I would not be in this position right now. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by coaches and athletes, who give everything they have to our program.”
Rodney Grimshaw, Northeastern Clinton- “Rodney is an extreme competitor,” coach Nick Trombley said. “He has one of the best attitudes when it comes to sportsmanship.
Not only does he push himself, but he is a leader on the team and motivates all others around him to become better athletes. We are very excited about his accomplishments this season, and we look forward to a stellar senior year next year.”
Jonathan Gay, EKMW- A freshman from Westport, Gay served as captain for the EKMW boys’ team. Gay was the team leader in the 1,600 and 800, while being a regular in the 4x800 and 4x400 relays. Gay contributed to the EKMW boys’ team doubling its sectional point total from the previous season, while finishing in a respectable sixth place as a team at sectionals. Gay’s individual highlight of the season was surprising the field in the 800 at state qualifiers by winning the race with a personal record, sending him to his first state competition and first for any EKMW boy in quite some time.
Evan Page, Seton Catholic- Page, a junior, qualified for his first New York State Championships this year in the 3,200. He started off the season with a personal record at the Anthony Luciano Invitational (Hudson Falls) at 9:50.52. He ran a smart race in the heat at the New York State Championships to earn a trip to Middletown. He ended his season at the state meet with a new personal record of 9:45.31.
Mitchell Ryan, Seton Catholic- Ryan, a senior, is a three-time qualifier at the state meet in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. This year, he opened up his season with a win at the Fonda-Fultonville steeple meet in April. He set a personal record at the Cornwall Steeplefest to finish second at 9:44.7. Ryan also won the steeple event at the Cicero-North Syracuse boys’ invitational. He then went on set a new personal record at the state meet of 9:43.31 to place fourth in Division II. Ryan will be attending SUNY Cortland next year and plans to run cross country and track and field for the Red Dragons.
Garth Benway, AuSable Valley- Benway was a senior member of the Patriots, and he currently owns the school record in shot put with a toss of 49’11”.He participated in the New York State Championships at Middletown where he took seventh place with a throw of 48’ 7¾”.
Paul Ford, AuSable Valley- Ford owns the school record in the 110 high hurdles (16.1 seconds). He participated at the New York State Championships in Middletown in the triple jump, placing 10th with a leap of 38’10”. He also competed in the high jump where he cleared 6’2”, finishing ninth.
Hakim Bouzidane, Plattsburgh- “Through the years, Bouzidane has shown his versatility,” coach Corey Mousseau said. “This versatility is what has allowed him to have a strong performance in the pentathlon events, and he represented Section VII at the state meet.”
Jeriqho Gadway, Plattsburgh High- “Gadway has been a distance superstar in the making,” Mousseau said. “Gadway’s attitude has paid off immensely. Still only in his sophomore year, he largely dominated the distance events in the section. He owns Plattsburgh High’s two-mile record and represented Section VII in the mile at the state meet.”
Jay Hebert, Ticonderoga- Since finishing second to teammate Jesse Perkins in 2011 at the CVAC championships, Hebert has dominated the 110-meter hurdles in Section VII. He finished fourth at the state meet in 2011 and first in 2012. Hebert is a two-time champion of the prestigious Eddy Meet in 2012 and 2013 and a winner of the year’s prestigious Glenn Loucks Games with a New York State best at 14.33. Since bursting on to the scene as a seventh grader, Hebert has demonstrated he is one of the best 110-meter hurdlers that Section VII and New York State has ever seen.
4x100 relay team, Ticonderoga- The quartet of Marcus Moser, Justyn Granger, Coleman Granger and Hebert have continued the legacy of Ticonderoga’s successful 4x100 relay teams. Rated No. 2 this season to a great Saranac team, they prevailed in a hotly-contested 4x100 relay at the state qualifier.
Connor Christopherson, Saranac- Christopherson graduates as a senior captain. His versatility and athleticism was displayed throughout the season. Christopherson was a sectional champion in the long jump, triple jump, placed second in the 110 hurdles and third in the 400 hurdles. He competed in the 110 hurdles, 400 hurdles and 4x400 relay at the New York State Championships. Christopherson brought home a fifth-place medal in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 57.24 seconds and was part of the 4x400 relay that placed fourth. He finished his four-year career as a school record holder in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.24, the javelin at 133’10” and the 4x400 with 3:24.98. He will continue his track and field career at SUNY Cortland in the fall.
Jeremy Bullis, Saranac- Bullis also graduates as a senior captain. He was an integral part of the Saranac throwers, according to coach Verkey. He was dedicated and looked highly upon as a leader by his peers. Bullis had personal bests in the shot put and discus this year with throws of 46’7” and 153’2”. His throw of 153’2” in discus is Saranac’s school record. He won back-to-back sectional titles in the discus throw and was undefeated in Section VII for two years. This year was capped off when Bullis finished fourth at the New York State Championships.
Ty Tedford, Saranac- “Tedford was an essential part of the sprint core on the team,” Verkey said. He won the 400 at the sectional meet, was runner-up in the 200, fifth in the 100 and was part of the 4x100 team. Tedford placed fourth at the Eddy meet earlier this season, and finished his season off with a state medal in the 400-meter dash with a personal best time of 50.52 seconds. He was also a member of the school record 4x400 meter relay team that placed fourth at the state meet in 3:24.98. Tedford will continue track and field at SUNY Plattsburgh in the fall.
Sobaan Ayub, Saranac- Ayub is a junior sprinter and hurdler with a very bright future, according to coach Verkey. He had a great season and competed in a variety of events from one meet to the next. Ayub won the 100-meter dash at sectionals, was runner-up in the 400-meter hurdles, was third in the 4x100 and was a member of the winning 4x400 team. He competed in the 200 at the state meet finishing in a personal best of 23.22, and also was a member of the fourth place 4x400 team, who broke the school record in 3:24.98. Ayub ran a blistering 49.87 split in that race.
4x400 relay team, Saranac- “Dustin Durgan, (Christopherson), (Ayub) and (Tedford) were a dominant team, were undefeated in Section VII and were 24 seconds faster than their second-place finisher,” Verkey said. The 4x400 started their season off with a 3:30.34 and a second-place finish at the Hudson Falls Invitational. This foursome also competed at the Loucks games and the Eddy Meet, running 3:29.46 and 3:26.69, finishing sixth and third. The team saved their best for last, running 3:24.98 at the state meet, finishing in fourth place and breaking their own school record.
4x800 relay team, Saranac- The quartet of sophomore Justin Liechty, junior Sean Tyrell, and seniors Nick Dormann and Ben Strack were undefeated in Section VII competition. They finished second and third at the Van Dusen and Luciano Invitationals, respectively. But they saved their best performance for last, running the third-fastest time in school history at the New York State Championships to finish ninth.