Sunday, June 26, 2016

USATF Juniors: Emily Burns 12th in 3km steeplechase

The weather was a bit more of a factor on the second night of the meet, as the air temperature stood at about 93 degrees when the gun when off for Emily Burns in the 3,000-meter steeplechase race at 8:45 p.m. Emily started out at the back of the pack and moved her way through, passing several runners despite very choppy form – especially on the water jump. While this was nowhere near her best time, her race effort was above average and she represented the school well in this meet. And, she made history by becoming the first Marist woman to qualify for and compete in this event at this championship. Well done, kid.

USATF Junior Championship, Day 2
Saturday, June 25, 2016
Veterans Memorial Stadium
Buchanan High School, Clovis, CA
Women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase
12 of 17. Emily Burns 11:29.81

83, 2:48 (85), 4:17 (89), 5:49 (92), 7:23 (94), 9:00 (97), 10:38 (98), 11:29.81 (49.81)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

USATF Juniors: Tonight's schedule update

Next up for the Running Red Foxes here in sunny Clovis: Emily Burns in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase. The updated race time is now 8:45 p.m. Pacific (11:45 p.m. in the East). Again, due to heat concerns. The forecast high today is a bit warmer than Friday -- today is supposed to get up to 103 degrees. The real heat wave here arrives next week when the temperature could approach or exceed 110 degrees. For today, though, we'll try to keep everyone hydrated and cool, and hope for conditions similar to last night -- which, all things being what they are, were about as good as we could hope for. OK!

USATF Juniors: Men's 10km results

Yes, it was warm for a 10,000-meter race, but honestly the conditions were not a major factor on a beautiful night. The humidity was low and the sun had set and it was a nice night for distance races. Our guys competed well, finishing 20th and 21st out of a field of 23 runners. I’ll be honest when I say they were not physically prepared in an adequate manner for the rigors of the fast-paced, championship-style race. That’s by design, as it is June and we are in the relatively early stages of cross country base buildup. It’s the constant dilemma of having athletes compete at this meet. But again, our guys knew what they were up against, knew what they were doing out there, and they proudly represented our school. Good for them, and good for us. They walked away satisfied with their effort on this night, and eager to really ramp up their summer training in preparation for the fall 2016 XC season.

USATF Junior Championship, Day 1
Friday, June 24, 2016
Veterans Memorial Stadium
Buchanan High School, Clovis, CA
Men’s 10,000-meter run
20. Matt Baffuto 33:07.05
77, 2:31 (74), 3:45 (74), 5:00 (75)
6:15 (75), 7:30 (75), 8:46 (76), 10:03 (77)
11:20 (77), 12:39 (79), 13:58 (79), 15:17 (79)
16:37 (80), 17:57 (80), 19:19 (82), 20:39 (80)
22:00 (81), 23:22 (82), 24:46 (84), 26:09 (83)
27:34 (85), 28:57 (83), 30:21 (84), 31:43 (82)
33:07.05 (84.05)
1600m splits: 5:00, 5:03, 5:14, 5:22, 5:30, 5:34
21. Riley Hughes 33:30.75
77, 2:31 (74), 3:45 (74), 5:01 (76)
6:17 (76), 7:35 (78), 8:54 (79), 10:14 (80)
11:35 (81), 12:56 (81), 14:17 (81), 15:39 (82)
17:00 (81), 18:22 (82), 19:44 (82), 21:07 (83)
22:30 (83), 23:53 (83), 25:15 (82), 26:39 (84)
28:03 (84), 29:25 (82), 30:46 (81), 32:10 (84)
33:30.75 (80.75)
1600m splits: 5:13, 5:25, 5:28, 5:32, 5:31

Friday, June 24, 2016

USATF Juniors: Schedule change

As mentioned previously (and just Tweeted), the men's 10,000-meter run with Riley Hughes and Matt Baffuto racing tonight was pushed back to 9:25 p.m. Pacific (12:25 a.m. Saturday in the East) due to heat concerns. The forecast high today here is 98 degrees. The extra hour will allow for the sun to go down and alleviate the bright, direct sunlight. The temperature does not drop that quickly in the early evening, so the race conditions for 25 laps of hard running will still be far from ideal, but this is a smart adjustment. Our goal for the men is for them to manage the conditions to the best of their ability and to compete to the best of their ability as well. It won't be easy; it rarely is.

USATF Juniors: Side trip to Yosemite

The temperature was pushing 100 degrees, the sun was
unrelenting and there wasn't much to do, so we made the game time decision yesterday to take a side trip to Yosemite National Park, which is a little more than 60 miles away from Fresno/Clovis. What a great decision! We barely scratched the surface of this amazing place. As my friend Eric said, "Too bad Heidi wasn't there, she'd have 50 pix on Facebook." At least! Hey, there's a reason Ansel Adams made an entire photographic legacy out of the place. It's truly amazing. Words and a few photos -- and a few hours -- cannot do it justice, but at least we were able to get a small glimpse of it. OK!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

USATF Juniors: Walk practice at Clovis North HS

Since Katie Miale's 10,000-meter racewalk race isn't till Sunday morning, she has plenty of time to get acclimated to the dry heat and searing sunshine. This morning, she did a 200-meter repeats workout at Clovis North High School. Fun fact! Clovis North High School's campus is larger and more sprawling than Marist College, and their athletic facilities are collegiate level for sure -- you are looking at a 9-lane track!

USATF Juniors: Barefoot strides at Clovis North HS

After a 40-minute run under the blazing California sun, distance runners Riley Hughes, Matt Baffuto and Emily Burns did barefoot strides on the grass field at the Clovis North High School track. They also ran past a brush fire off in the distance. In other news! Riley and Matt's 10,000-meter race on Friday night was pushed back an hour to 9:25 p.m. local time, when it will still be around 90 degrees. But at least the sun won't be beating down.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

USATF Juniors: Greetings from Gate C135

Here is our travel party for this week/weekend. We are at Newark Airport, where (surprise, surprise!) our flight is DELAYED. It wouldn't be a trip to USATF Juniors without some travel snafus. As of now, we should be OK to make our connecting flight in San Francisco to Fresno. But of course this could change. We'll get there, eventually. Nicely done!

Marist Running at Yellowstone

Thanks to David Marthy for sending along these photos of him and Gregg ("Bryan Buttigieg") from Yellowstone, where they did and saw some really neat things. Good stuff!

Monday, June 20, 2016

School's out already?

Summer has officially begun -- on the calendar, and in our house. Only our youngest son James is still bound by the shackles of the public school calendar. The older two are out of school now; how did that happen already? So what better use of a graduating 8th-grader's time than to help her Old Man with the recruit mailings, right? Here, Natalie is assisting with the addressing of envelopes to prospective student-athletes. Sammie is clearly not interested in helping in this process.

Friday, June 17, 2016

USATF Juniors: Four’s a crowd!

As has been our tradition most years, we will be traveling to the USATF Junior Championships next week. This year’s championship is in Clovis, California – near Fresno – at Veterans Memorial Stadium, Buchanan High School in Clovis. Because it is an Olympic year, the Junior Championships stand alone and are not held in conjunction with the Senior Championships, because that meet is actually the U.S. Olympic Trials.

An astute follower of our program, and former USATF Junior qualifier and participant, pointed out to me earlier in the week that this is the largest contingent of athletes (four) we have ever brought to the meet. Neat. Many years, including last year with Dietrich Mosel in Oregon, it is just one athlete. This year, we are fortunate enough to have four Marist competitors at this meet. Here is the rundown of athletes, in order of competition.

Men’s 10,000-meter run, Friday, June 24, 8:25 p.m. (Pacific time): Riley Hughes and Matt Baffuto. These two men become the 16th and 17th men in school history to qualify for this meet in this event.
Women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, Saturday, June 25, 7:45 p.m. (Pacific time): Emily Burns. Emily becomes the first woman in school history to qualify in this event at this meet.
Women’s 10,000-meter racewalk, Sunday, June 26, 8:30 a.m. (Pacific time): Katie Miale. Katie joins teammate Kristi Licursi (2014) as the only two to qualify in this event in school history. This is Katie’s third consecutive Junior Championship, as she qualified during her final two high school seasons.

We look forward to having a nice trip out to the Fresno area, where the forecast highs each day are well over 100 degrees. So, expect some whining/weather related posts from deep in the Central Valley. But hey. It’s dry heat. 

Of mice and men

We’ve got a mouse problem at our house. This has been an on-and-off issue for the more than 20 years we have lived at our home at the end of the street, which is bordered on the west side by woods and the north side by a field of high grass, owned by a Tree Guy who disposes his old timber there. A ha! You are thinking. There’s the problem! The mice come from the woods, and from the old timber piles, and maybe from the small crack between our garage door and our driveway, or maybe through the holes in the pipes in the basement, etc. You may be right on one or all of these counts. But, here’s the thing! Who cares? My issue now is disposing of them. While I favor the “catch and release” plan, this humane approach concept is not shared in my house. But! This post is not intended as a referendum on rodent removal ethics.

Rather, this is about the assignment of blame, and the need for reason and rationality in an oftentimes irrational and random world. Random. We are so afraid to face this reality: Life is full of myriad random events and activities. Some are linked. Some have reasons for their actions. But so many times, the randomness stands alone as, well, random. And we, as rational humans, cannot grasp that and refuse to come to grips with that. We try to make sense of the senseless, all the time. This is what drives the 24-7 news cycle, talking heads, bloviating Social Media posts, and all the rest.

I think I’ve referenced before one of my favorite books of all time, called “The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives.” This is written by physicist Leonard Mlodinow. As a math/science guy, one of his functions is to provide order and meaning to things through math and science. But, as he points out in his book (which is far more complex than to be summarized here by a dimwitted track coach in a simple blog post), sometimes math, science – and everything else – fails to explain why things are.

I thought of this as the mice ran wild in our house last night. “We’ve got a BIG problem, we better call an exterminator or something,’’ my oldest son exclaimed in exasperation. Fun fact! He hates and fears mice. My daughter scurried to her room, cowering with the dog for safety. Good luck with that. My youngest son yawned and offered this bit of wisdom: “Mice are cool. So what?” And then he reverted to watching our favorite pitcher (Bartolo Colon of the Mets). “We leave too much food and too many clothing lying around,’’ my beautiful wife surmised. Highly accurate statement! However, is this the REASON for our scampering friends, who somehow elude our barking and excitable hound dog Sammie? Possibly, but probably not. The woods. The slight crack between the driveway and our garage door. The field in the back. The pipes. All more plausible theories. How about this one? We live in a rural area. We have mice in our house. A lot of them this year. It happens. We deal with it. And then, we do our best to cope with and deal with the next, most likely random, thing with which to deal. OK! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Walkway races: Marathon results

It was a joyful weekend for marathon winner Katie Messina. She was in a great mood – BEFORE the race, on Saturday night and Sunday! So much for pre-race jitters for your first marathon, kid. We were so thrilled to see her smiling from ear to ear and making her marathon debut in her home away from home on the banks of the Hudson River. Love this photo taken by Marist Sports Information staffer Harrison Baker: Katie being greeted by Bianca after the race. You can see the pure joy exuded in this picture. Welcome home, Katie. Come back anytime.

Marathon results and notes
--David Swift (Marist Running Alum/Middle Aged Machines) 3:09:46, 11th overall, third in 40-49
--Katie Messina (Marist Running Alum) 3:14:00, first overall
--Kara Lightowler (Marist Running Alum) 3:27:22, first in 19-29
--John Mckee (Middle Aged Machines) 3:34:18, third in 50-59
--Kent Rinehart (Marist Alum, Dean of Admission at Marist) 3:52:08

Walkway races: Half marathon results

Great day for several women in our program: Recent graduate Christine Coughlin was third overall in her half-marathon debut (1:29:05). Rising senior and XC captain Bianca Luparello (1:31:31) was fourth overall and first in her age group, and this clearly shows she’s ready for a breakthrough senior year. Marist Running Alum Dayna McLaughlin had a great race 1:35:14, second in the 19-29. Marist Running Alum Kelley Gould had a tough day but her superior fitness level still enabled her to get third in the 19-29 (1:38:34). And recent grad Lizzy Peper (1:39:39) had a strong PR effort.

Our men (current and former) dominated the top finishers and the age-group awards. However, if it weren’t for that pesky Sammy (Sam I Am) Heraghty, Marist Running would have had a clean sweep of the top spots in the half marathon. This may have been cause for consternation somewhere, but not here! We watched Sam grow up at the Spackenkill track under the watchful eye of Mr. Bucket and with behind-the-scenes guidance from Hild. Now a rising junior at Geneseo, Sam has developed into a solid long-distance runner, the type of hard-working kid that has inhabited our program through the years at Marist. And so with him taking the top spot in the half marathon in 1:16:57, wearing his trademark bandana, he nudged by the Running Red Army of alums and current team members behind him. Sam was wearing the colors of the Middle Aged Machines (a misnomer for the college-aged kid) and he did the MAMs proud. He trains with those men (of which Bucket is a member) and they were thrilled to see one of their own take the top spot. Nicely done, Sammy!

Many other results here, but a personal highlight was hanging out with Lurch (“Todd Coulson”) for much of the day on Sunday. Lurch graduated from here 20 years ago, but he is aging better than most of us and remains loyal to his Foxes.

Half marathon results and notes
--Billy Posch (Marist Running Alum) 1:17:30, second overall
--Steven Morrison (rising junior, XC/track) 1:18:56, third overall
--Nick Webster (Marist Running Alum) 1:19:36, fourth overall, first in 19-29
--Mark Valentino (Marist Running Alum) 1:19:36, fifth overall, second in 19-29
--Dietrich Mosel (rising junior, XC/track) 1:20:08, sixth overall, third in 19-29
--Palmer Weimann (rising sophomore, XC/track) 1:21:14, seventh overall, fourth in 19-29
--Patrick Hickey (rising junior, XC/track) 1:22:37, eighth overall, fifth in 19-29
--Kyle Hannafin (Marist Running Alum) 1:23:40, ninth overall, sixth in 19-29
--Dan Hillman (rising sophomore, XC/track) 1:24:55, tenth overall, seventh in 19-29
--Christine Coughlin (Marist Running Alum) 1:29:05, third overall
--Will Duggan (rising junior, XC/track) 1:30:09
--Bianca Luparello (rising senior, XC captain) 1:31:31, fourth overall, first in 19-29
--Michel Joseph (Middle Aged Machines) 1:33:03, second in 40-49
--Billy Hild (Marist Running Alum) 1:34:27, 27th overall
--Anthony Ferreri (Marist alum) 1:34:55, third in 50-59
--Dayna McLaughlin (Marist Running Alum) 1:35:14, second in 19-29
--Todd Coulson (Marist Running Alum) 1:36:12, third in 40-49
--Neil Grencer (Middle Aged Machines) 1:36:50, fourth in 40-49
--Kelley Gould (Marist Running Alum) 1:38:34, third in 19-29
--Kieran Stack (Iona College alum, parent of incoming XC freshman) 1:38:34, fourth in 50-54
--Lizzy Peper (Marist Running Alum) 1:39:39, sixth in 19-29
--Kim Bartlett (Marist Running Alum) 1:52:43
--Bernice Patten (Marist Running Alum) 1:57:54
--Elizabeth Edwards (Marist Running Alum) 2:06:06
--Aarti (Kapoor) Comstock (Marist Running Alum) 2:06:40
--Alli Kline (Marist Running Alum) 2:14:29
--John Peper (Lizzy’s dad) 2:19:24
--Susan Grencer (Neil’s wife, cancer survivor, first half marathon) 2:37:43

Walkway races: 5km results

My concern with posting results on this blog is that I will leave someone out. So here goes, with three posts on the three races, the first of them from the 5km. Complete results are at

5k results and notes
--Steven Rizzo (rising junior, XC/track) 15:52, first overall, defending champion
--Stefan Morton (rising senior, XC track captain) 16:21, second overall
--Mike Slinskey (friend of the program) 17:10, third overall
--Brian Halling (friend of the program, FDR HS head coach) 17:54, fourth overall
--David Osterhoudt (Middle Aged Machines) 18:47, eighth overall
--Alex Cuesta (Marist Running Alum; assistant coach) 19:15, 10th overall, third in 20-29
--Emily Ferreri (Tony’s daughter, Catherine’s sister) 20:52, second overall
--Saad Baig (rising senior, XC/track captain) 21:47, 26th overall
--Zach Toner (rising senior, XC/track) 21:47, 27th overall
--Jordan Casey (rising sophomore, XC/track) 22:04, third overall
--Shea Bohan (rising sophomore, XC/track) 22:04, first in 15-18
--Connor Dodge (Marist Running Alum, sprinter) 22:14, ninth in 19-29
--Catherine Ferreri (Marist Running Alum) 24:32, fifth in 19-29
--Danielle Asaro (Marist Running Alum, record-setting sprinter) 30:49
--Carol Hild (Hild’s mom) 34:34

Walkway races: Trending

Heard around the McCann Center this morning: Apparently, the Walkway Marathon races and Marist’s participation in them was a hot trend on Social Media. According to one person with knowledge of these statistics, one of the hashtags (presumably #WalkwayMarathon) was trending fourth in the world on Social Media (presumably Twitter) on Sunday. Of course! I’m too lazy to corroborate this as factual information, and I’m sure somebody will want to prove me wrong on this fact. As I like to say with such factoids: That, and $1.30, will get me a cup of coffee at Stewart’s. However, for the Important People Who Care About Such Statistics, this is and was a Big Deal. And as a result, we are well pleased.

On a more relevant note, in the old-school meaning of “trending,” an informal polling of former and current team members leads me to believe that this event will be trending positively among both groups. As in: Our participation will continue to grow. That’s the goal, anyway. Everyone involved from the Marist Running Family had a great weekend – no matter the race outcomes, which were mostly pretty strong. My Fancy Alumni Reception in the historic Cornell Boathouse never really materialized. But as the aforementioned “person with knowledge of these statistics” said, if we just rename it the “Marist Track/XC Alumni Hospitality Area,” that would be more appropriate. Yeah. I like that. Besides! It gave you all a convenient and private place to use the facilities pre- and post-race. Right? Right. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Walkway races: Katie wins!

The sheer, boundless joy of marathon winner Katie Messina is evident in these photos. We are so proud of her, taking top honors in her marathon debut, running a solid 3:14:00 on a less-than-ideal day. Katie has a great future at these long distances.

Please give me some time to sort out the final results and posting them here. I will try to be as inclusive as possible.

It was a great day for the Walkway races, the local running community and the Marist Running family. To one and all: NICELY DONE!

Walkway races: You go, girl!

Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club member Lori Decker was at the top of the hill near the finish line, imploring runners to sprint to the finish. If you ran in the race, you know what I mean. She was great!

Walkway races: Lurch!

One of the highlights of the day was seeing and hanging out with Lurch ("Todd Coulson") before, during and after the races. Lurch graduated Marist 20 years ago and remains a loyal alum and dear friend. He is shown here after his solid half marathon, with his two young daughters. Nicely done, Lurch!

Walkway races: Goofy start photo

This one went viral on Twitter, for obvious reasons ...

Walkway races: At the starting line

A few shots of the Marist-dominated starting line of the half marathon and full marathon.

Walkway races: How to start the day ...

... at 4:30 a.m., at Stewart's, getting a box of coffee to go along with the other food and drink for our alumni/team area in the historic Cornell Boathouse on the Marist College riverfront. Don't worry. There was none remaining by the end of the morning.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Walkway races: Another view from the expo

Poaching the following photo from Marist Athletics' Twitter feed (I'm sure they won't MIND). Some of the boys at the Expo, picking up their bib numbers. From left: Rizzo, Deet, Hickey, Tino. Rizzo is the defending 5k champion and will be running that. The other guys are running in the half marathon. Neat!

Walkway races: View from the expo

Thanks to my good pal, the Selfie King, Krys "StalwartDog" Wasielewski for sending me this photo from today's pre-race Expo at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center. He stopped by the Advocare booth and saw Chuck. We look forward to a fun weekend. Will post results and photos as we can. OK!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Walkway races: See you Sunday!

We are looking forward to a strong turnout of team members and alumni for Sunday's races. The excitement is building in the local running community for this second annual event. Because the races start and finish at the Hudson River on the Marist College campus, we as a Marist community are pretty pumped for this race. Folks across campus were pressing me for a number in terms of participation from the Marist Running family. I estimated around 75, and this has become the narrative in several press releases. After reviewing the final entry list for all three races, it appears we will be just a little short of that number. By my count, we should have between 60 and 65 alums or current team members entered in the race. That's still a great showing. We kindly ask that all affiliated with Marist Running wear something Marist -- loud and proud. We will be gathering at the Cornell Boathouse for an informal reception after the races finish -- see me or Coach Chuck for a "fancy wristband" to get in there -- and please stick around for photos. We look forward to having a nice turnout, no matter the final number. OK!

Crew view

My daughter Natalie has just completed her first season as a member of the rowing (crew) team at FDR High School. She's still in eighth grade, and already she has participated in three sports on the varsity level -- swimming (fall), bowling (winter), crew (spring). Of course, being the Goofy Dad in the Tube Socks, I am proud of all her pursuits. Above, the novice (8th-grade) team took a final plunge in the murky Hudson River on Monday afternoon. To the left, Natalie strikes a contemplative pose after a recent race. Of course, my compass is dialed to track, but I must say that there are many similarities between crew and track in terms of camaraderie and family support. We like the view from the shore, and here's to a few more years with the rowers.

Omar on the Left Coast

Our boy Omar Perez is spending the summer in California, doing all sorts of environmental/trail stuff out there. We'll have him fill us in completely on the adventure in the fall. I think this photo was taken in Santa Cruz, a funky coast town that Justin Harris and I visited way back in 2002, when he qualified for the USATF Junior Championships at Stanford. Speaking of which! We have four athletes traveling to California in two weeks for the Juniors (more on that in future posts?). Anyway! We miss Omar. Aside from being a loyal and dedicated team member for four years and 12 full seasons (including a senior season as team captain), we were so accustomed to seeing him around the McCann Center during the summer months as part of Randy's Crew. So, it's odd not having Omar around. Even though he graduated a few weeks ago, he'll be back for a fifth year of track eligibility, and we couldn't be happier with this. Be safe out there, Omar!

Grilling season

This rather questionable photo was sent to me via text from our good friend Mike The Bus Driver, who has apparently discovered a new way to "grill and chill" this summer. I'll let you draw your own conclusions on the originality of this setup. Knowing Mike, he might load this into the bottom of one of our busses and fire this baby up while we are running at a track meet. Happy summer.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The greatest

The old, Italian barber had trembling hands. He was in his mid to late 80s, and he was cutting my hair. This was about 25 years ago. His barbershop – now owned and operated by his son, my current barber – was adorned with old photos of boxers and baseball players. But the old barber, he was all about boxing. All he ever talked about was the great Rocky Marciano, with a few sprinklings in there about Rocky Graziano, Primo Carnera, Jake LaMotta. Italian boxing legends, every one of them.

The old barber’s son, at the time a young barber, told the old man that I was a sportswriter. “A sportswriter, huh,’’ the old man sniffed. “OK, son, who was the best boxer who ever lived?” Reflexively, without even thinking, I blurted out: “Muhammad Ali.” The old barber, hands trembling, holding sharp scissors, stopped cutting my hair. He had a serious look on his face as he stared into the mirror at me. I’m thinking, “Oh s—t, I’m in trouble here. You’re Italian, you idiot! Why couldn’t you mention one of the Italians? He’s wielding sharp objects!” Then, the old, Italian barber, he breaks into a smile, pats me on a shoulder and says: “You’re right, son. Ali was the greatest who ever lived.”

I woke up this morning to the news of Muhammad Ali’s death. For the past 30 years, he has been a sympathetic and inspirational figure – a “secular saint,” the New York Times wrote. That belies a very complicated early life. Very complicated. But as a child of the 1970s, when the heavyweight boxing division was big news, there was no character bigger than Muhammad Ali. His epic battles with Frazier and Foreman were pure blood sport. The savage beatings that he dished out and received left him a frail and trembling man in his older years. A 15-round bout with Chuck Wepner, known as the “Bayonne Bleeder,” was the impetus for the series of “Rocky” movies; those who know me realize I love those old movies.

And so today, we lose the man who called himself the “Greatest of All Time.” In his prime, in the 1960s and 1970s, he was a man who was larger than life. For those in my age category, he was a huge character in our youth, in our formative years. When historical figures like Muhammad Ali die, a little part of that youth goes will it and we realize the relentless march of time. The greatest is gone. There will never be another like him. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Walkway Marathon: Come home to run!

The Walkway Marathon races are less than two weeks away. We are looking forward to what we hope will be a strong alumni turnout at the event. I just posted this on Facebook (a rare FB post for me, for those keeping score at home), and I figured I’d post it here on the Fancy Blog for those who are not on Facebook or do not check it frequently. Anyway! The race is Sunday, June 12. There is a 5km, half marathon and full marathon. Please note! If you have not yet registered, entries close on June 4. Unlike last year, when the race filled up and closed out very early, you should be able to register until that time. However! After that date, you will not be able to register.

In other news! We are planning an informal Alumni Reception at the Cornell Boathouse, as the races are finishing. Yes. There will be food and drink, but not of the “adult” variety. Hey, it’s a Sunday morning. Please plan on attending this, and getting together/meeting with current team members who will be running in one of the races as well. Please, please, please … wear your Marist gear with pride – before, during and after the race. We want to have a strong Marist Running representation at the Walkway races. Some more Fun Facts about the Walkway races:

--There is a pre-race expo on Saturday from noon until 8 p.m. You must pick up your bib number and packet at that time, unless you want to pay an extra $25 to pick it up on the morning of the race (and really, who would want to do THAT?). While at the expo, stop by and say hello to Coach Chuck, who will be working at the expo all day.
--The half marathon and full marathon starts and finishes on the Marist riverfront near the Hudson River. Keep in mind that the first two miles are essentially uphill. Of course! This means the last two miles are essentially downhill. In between, on the rail trails and Walkway, the race is mostly flat.
--The 5km starts on the Highland side of the Walkway. It is a point-to-point race and finishes at the Marist riverfront at the same finish line as the other two races. It’s a pretty fast course, with mostly flat and downhill terrain, but a fair amount of sharp turns in Poughkeepsie. Rizzo is the defending champion.
--The races start early (7 a.m. for the long races) so the heat shouldn’t be an issue … unless it’s as hot as it was this past weekend. Yikes!

I will pass along more updates if needed as race day gets closer. Hope to see many of you there.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Vuono wins academic honor -- again!

For the second year in a row, Mark Vuono has won Academic All-District honors. The award honors someone who combines superior academic success with athletic success and Vuono certainly has done that. The photo above is of Vuono receiving his baccalaureate award from President Murray last Friday; he had the highest GPA among all graduating accounting majors. As you can read in the press release here, Vuono was my "never say no" guy ... always ready to run a strong relay leg, or anything else, with his laid back, breezy style. And he wasn't just a good guy; he was fast, too! In short, a great citizen of our program. We are confident that Vuono will continue both successful paths after graduation -- he's already got a job lined up with KPMG in his native Rhode Island, and he and Ricky Willi are signed up for the Chicago Marathon in October. Nicely done, Vuono!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Family update #3: Our chill third baseman

Our youngest son James and his team have had an excellent Little League season, when the games haven't been rained out. His team tore through their division undefeated, until they lost to a similarly undefeated team from a neighboring town in a riveting game with a playoff atmosphere (this other town actually had MUSIC blaring in between innings). Our favorite third baseman had a great game in the field but a rough night at the plate, culminating with a game-ending strikeout. Hey, he went down swinging. Such an ignominious ending would leave many Little Leaguers really bummed out, and to be sure James and the team were not pleased with their first loss of the season. But the mood changed quickly when I reminded him that he gets 50 cents off on ice cream at Stewart's if he goes in wearing his Little League uniform. Play ball!

Family update #2: Confirmation

That old guy in the photo is what I look like when not wearing a hat, two shirts, baggy pants/shorts and tube socks. Pretty scary stuff, I know. The real star in the photo is our 13-year-old daughter Natalie, who made her Confirmation at church last week. We are proud of her, as she completes eighth grade and heads into high school -- presumably, getting a ride into school from her older brother?

Family update #1: A new driver

Our oldest son Joey passed his driving test on Monday and is now a junior licensed driver in New York State. My feelings are mixed on this. This nice grandpa car will be his ride to and from school and track practice, thus alleviating the need for constant drop-off and pick-up. But! It does not alleviate the need to worry about a young driver out on the road in a jungle of reckless and distracted drivers. As my wife Heidi posted on Facebook, this is just another is a series of parent-letting-go moments that start pretty much at birth. Be safe out there, kid.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in: Conor, 1:08:41!

Several Marist Running alums raced at the Brooklyn Half Marathon on Saturday. Conor Shelley (right) was 13th overall in 1:08:41. Tim Keegan (left) had a tremendous comeback effort with a 1:17:05. Speaking of comebacks? Luke Shane (not pictured) returned from major injury with a near PR (1:18:31). Pat Duggan (center) ran 1:31:40 and certainly enjoyed the company of his Forever Fox teammates. Nicely done, one and all!

Commencement 2016: Some photos

There are many photos out there -- on Facebook, Instragram, on parents' cameras and iPads, etc. -- here is a sampling from Saturday's cloudy but very nice graduation. As always, we will miss our graduating seniors but we welcome them to the growing family of loyal Marist Running alums.

Being Bartolo

He celebrates his 43rd birthday today, and he does so with a prodigious girth about his midsection. Hmm. A middle-aged man in America celebrating his birthday with extra pounds in his belly? Not exactly breaking news there. However! This particular 43-year-old happens to be our favorite player on the New York Mets, the age-defying gut-boy named Bartolo Colon, who last night fired under-the-radar-gun fastballs past Bryce Harper (oh, HIM) and the Washington Nationals. He’s listed at 5-11, 285 pounds (he’s probably heavier than that!), and his BMI is embarrassingly high; his ERA and his WHIP, however, are just fine, thank you very much. In the Major League Baseball world, Colon has been around just slightly less than forever, having thrown his first MLB pitch well before any of my children were born.

As I have cautioned on this Fancy Blog before, we should be very slow to deify professional sports figures (or anyone, for that matter), people we only know by what we see and hear in the coverage of our teams. But since Big Bart has been on the Mets, he has become somewhat of a goofy folk hero, especially in his comical at-bats; oh yeah, it helps that he gets batters out on a regular basis. My son James, an avid Mets’ fan who watches or listens to every game, treats every fifth day when Colon pitches as a sort of a holiday. When Colon made history by becoming the oldest player to hit his first home run – a true miracle – James called me (I was out of town) and was more excited than I had ever heard him.

However! I am quick to point out the many flaws of our rotund hero to my 10-year-old son. First of all, there’s no reason for an “athlete” to have such a voluminous gut; but again, that’s part of the allure of Bartolo Colon. And also, he was suspended for 50 games back in 2012 for failing a performance enhancing drug test. No way to candy-coat that. He did something he wasn’t supposed to do. Very refreshingly, Colon did not file a grievance. He did not make excuses. He apologized to his teammates in Oakland for his mistake and took his 50-game hit. That in and of itself – taking responsibility for your actions – is a nice object lesson from a flawed man whose curious nickname is “Big Sexy.” Another lesson for my 10-year-old: Colon has FUN playing baseball. Announcers call him unflappable. He smiles and laughs, win or lose. Oh, he’s a competitor and he wants to win, but he doesn’t treat it as a grim blood sport (like that HARPER guy). He gets the ball and throws the ball. When there is a delay in the action, like for a replay review or something like that, Colon doesn’t fret about his arm stiffening up or whatever. Like a bored 10-year-old waiting to start the game again, he just looks up at the sky and flips the ball in a solitary game of catch until he’s allowed to throw his 89 mph fastballs that somehow manage to avoid opposing bats more often than not. He laughs. He smiles. He has fun. He enjoys what he does. Perhaps he has a few too many hot dogs. It’s a safe bet he’ll have some birthday cake today. Maybe more than some.

And so we salute you, Big Bart, on making it to age 43 and still putting on a Major League Baseball uniform, and showing us all that you can be serious while not taking yourself too seriously.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Who's Who crew

Marist Track/XC was well represented at the Who's Who presentation on Tuesday afternoon. From left: Omar Perez, Catherine Ferreri, Lizzy Peper, Brianne Vess, Hakim Cunningham. Nicely done, ladies and gentlemen!

Nestor Taylor to represent Marist at NCAA forum

We are very proud to announce that soon-to-be graduating senior Nestor Taylor (above, #7, racing with his fellow mid-distance brothers) will be continuing to proudly represent our school and our track program, as he was selected to participate in the 2016 NCAA Career in Sports Forum. Nestor will be traveling to Indianapolis from June 2-5 to represent Marist at the forum. Nicely done, Nestor! Here is a link to more information on the Career in Sports Forum:

Going, going ... Gartland!

While in the nostalgic mood ... here is a photo of the beginning of the dismantling of the Gartland townhouses as the amazing transformation of the North End continues. The new building on the site of the old bank is truly breathtaking. Now that these old townhouses are being knocked down, the view from the North Entrance will be equally breathtaking. Fun fact! The first year that students were housed in Gartland was 1985-1986, and this old coach was one of the original inhabitants. And now, the old buildings are being knocked down in the name of progress. It is great news, as Marist continues to move boldly into the future, but it also a stark reminder of advancing age, when new becomes old in what seems like the blink of an eye but actually spans a generation. RIP, Old Gartland, and we look forward to the new version.

Marist commencement, circa 1986

As another graduation day approaches at Marist, allow me to share with you a photo that somehow materialized in a long-lost box of pictures. You may recognize these folks of yesteryear -- a skinny undergrad with a mop of unruly hair and a race T-shirt, and a youthful looking priest, sharing a smile on a warm May day, 30 years ago. Congrats to the Class of 2016, from one member of the Class of 1986. OK!

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Turned out to be a weekend of happy endings, none better than Kristen Traub's stunning victory in the 3,000-meter run at the ECAC Championships on Sunday afternoon at a chilly, windy and rainy Princeton University. As you can see by the scoreboard in the background of a jubilant champion and very proud Coach Chuck, Kristen won the 3km in 9:54.78 -- eclipsing her own school record of 9:56.04 that she set last year. It was the final race in a brilliant career, one in which she rewrote much of our school record books (see list below). She is one of the greatest runners in school history, and now she is in a pantheon of her own -- our first ECAC Champion. Because of the horrendous weather, the field dwindled from 12 entered to 7 runners who started the race. Kristen ran methodically throughout, moving up with each lap until she pulled the trigger over the final 1km to take a convincing victory with a vicious kick over the final 200 meters (see splits below, and awesome finish photo to the left from teammate Bryn Gorberg). Talk about going out on top: ECAC Champion. School Record. Doesn't get much better than that. Nicely done, Kristen!

ECAC Championships
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
3,000-meter run
Coach Pete's splits
1-Kristen Traub 9:54.78 *school record, old record 9:56.04 set by Traub in 2015
82, 2:43 (81), 4:04 (81), 5:24 (80), 6:44 (80), 8:03 (79), 9:21 (78), 9:54.78 (33.78)
1km splits: 3:23, 3:21, 3:11.78
Official race splits
2:03.29, 4:44.48 (2:41.20), 7:24.51 (2:40.04), 9:54.78 (2:30.27)
Kristen Traub’s school records
--Indoor mile (4:55.31)
--Outdoor 1,500 (4:33.95)
--Outdoor 3,000 (9:54.78)
--Outdoor 4x800 (9:09.91)
--Outdoor 4x1500 (19:04.69)
--Outdoor DMR (12:24.85)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

IC4A Championships: Day 2 results and splits

The men’s track season concluded this afternoon at Princeton with three athletes competing in their respective events. In the 1,500-meter run trials, junior Stefan Morton went out at a blistering pace (2:02.2 through 800 meters!) and faded toward the end. He did not run a personal-best time, but still was able to break 4:00 for the event. The experience of racing in this meet will be helpful for Stefan.

In the 110-meter hurdles, freshman Josh Taylor had a tough race, never seeming to get in sync with things. Hakim Cunningham was able to advance from the preliminaries to the semifinals by a narrow margin – three racers finished in 14.80 but the timers had to go the hundredths and Hakim was able to squeak in there. Hakim improved his time to 14.75 in the semis, but did not advance to the eight-racer final on Sunday. And so ends one of the most remarkable and prolific careers in Marist track history. Hakim graduates having completely rewritten the record board, and clearly establishing himself as the best hurdler in school history.

IC4A Championships, Day 2
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
1,500-meter run trials
33 of 46. Stefan Morton 3:59.49
Coach Pete’s splits
60.2, 2:02.2 (62.0), 3:07.7 (65.5), 3:59.49 (51.79)
Official race timing splits (from finish line)
44.82, 1:46.82 (1:02.00), 2:51.46 (1:04.64), 3:59.49 (1:08.04)
110-meter hurdles, preliminary round
15. Hakim Cunningham 14.80 (14.792), advanced to semifinal round
30. Josh Taylor 15.36
110-meter hurdles, semifinal round
14. Hakim Cunningham 14.75

Hakim Cunningham records
--Indoor 60-meter hurdles: 8.13 seconds
--Outdoor 110-meter hurdles: 14.50
--Outdoor 400-meter hurdles: 55.62
--Outdoor 4x100 relay: 42.74
--He is the only hurdler in school history to qualify for the IC4A Championships both indoors and outdoors.

ECAC Championships: Debbie Boerke wins her section of 400 hurdles

The fantastic freshman year of Debbie Boerke came to an end in winning fashion on Saturday afternoon at the ECAC Championships (see scoreboard photo above for proof!). Debbie won her section of the 400-meter hurdle trials, taking top honors in section 3 with a time of 1:01.98. Unfortunately for Debbie, the advancement formula was strictly on time, and her time was the 10th fastest out of 28 women who completed the race. Since only the top 8 times advance, her season is over. And what a season – indoor and outdoor – it was for Debbie, who set numerous school records as an individual and a relay team member. There is great promise for the future as well: Of the 11 freshmen who completed Saturday’s ECAC 400 hurdles race, Debbie was the top first-year finisher.

ECAC Championships
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
400-meter hurdle trials

10 of 28. Debbie Boerke 1:01.98 (won section 3)

2015-2016 event records set by Debbie Boerke
--Indoor 400-meter dash (58.55)
--Indoor 4x200 relay (1:45.88)
--Indoor 4x400 relay (4:00.20)
--Outdoor 400 hurdles (1:01.70)

Our season concludes tomorrow with Kristen Traub racing in the 3,000-meter run at Princeton. 

IC4A Championships: 3,000-meter steeplechase, Mark Valentino, school record!

Sometimes in real life, stories have happy endings. Such was the case on Friday night for Mark Valentino, who capped a great five-year run in the Marist red-and-white with a coveted and elusive school record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The previous owner of the school record (Quimes DelaCruz) was one of the greatest and most consistent performers in school history. Mark did this against all odds. He is taking four graduate school classes, and he is a full-time (leave replacement) middle school teacher. Not a student teacher. It's an actual, real-world JOB. In fact! He taught a half day on Friday before riding down with us to Princeton -- battling an upper respiratory infection as well. It's a safe bet to say that few if any IC4A competitors actually taught middle schoolers for the first four hours of their day. Mark ran tough and consistent, as you can see with his splits. He needed a 70-second last lap to get the school record, and he got it, with an emphatic fist pump at the finish line. For this and so many reasons, we are proud of Mark and we salute this happy ending. (For those alert readers keeping score at home, Mark did finish 11th in his race as you see on the scoreboard but he was 12th overall as the winner of the first section ran faster). Nicely done!

IC4A Championships, Day 1
Friday, May 13, 2016
Princeton University
3,000-meter steeplechase
12. Mark Valentino 9:05.01 *school record, old record 9:05.74 by Arquimedes DelaCruz in 2013
70, 2:22 (72), 3:33 (71), 4:46 (73), 6:00 (74), 7:13 (73), 8:25 (72), 9:05.01 (40.01)