Next Competition: Indoor Track, January 24, Utica College
---Regular Season Finale---
January 18: And just like that, regular season Section III invitationals closed out with the Grieve Memorial Meet at OCC's SCR arena. On a stormy afternoon where several schools canceled rather than risk the roads, the Wildcats showed up in full force, with the boys capturing 3rd place and the girls 2nd, both seasonal best team finishes. A number of 'cats used their final regular-season opportunity to register seasonal bests, while first-place efforts came to Matt Bartolotta(3200m), Faith Knox(1000m) and Abby Kuppinger(600m). Two relays crossed the finish line first. The boys won the 4x400 with Section III's 2nd fastest time of the season, while the girls 4x200 captured 1st with a sectional #4 clocking.
January 11: The Wildcats arrived at OCC for the Kirschenheiter Invitational in weather more suitable for an early spring track meet than the indoor variety. Once inside, though, they demonstrated they've also warmed to the season. PR's were numerous as the improvements continue. The girls took 5th place in their 16-team field while the boys notched their best team finish of the season with a 4th place. Some of their points came from a first place finish in the 4x400 relay--and also Matt Bartolotta's victory in the 1600 meter. More than one athlete placed top-6 while not running in their event's seeded heat. Riley Flynn raced in the 6th of 8 heats of the 300 meter, but her winning time beat all competitors in the 7th heat and three of the six final-heat racers. This flying freshman placed 4th overall and signaled of good things to come. Both team get back to work on Monday, preparing for their final regular-season invitational on January 18th. The championships are drawing closer.
December 14: Semi-Formal MIA's and early-departures winnowed available athletes for the mid-December Jensen Relays, but the improvements and new-event experience continued for those competing. Justin Malinowski clocked a personal record in the 1000m as he won his heat. Marc Gillette added almost two feet to his previous shot put PR. Rachael Reynolds raced to her second consecutive 55hh personal record with a 6th place overall finish. Natalie Buckhout set a personal mark with a 2nd place in the mile, and Abby Kuppinger matched her personal record in the 600m also with a second place effort. December is all about both gaining experience and event experimentation. Both teams placed 7th in their team fields.
December 4: As sure as the presence of snow, the Wildcats shot into their 2019-20 Indoor Track season with the Morse Relays, where 2 and 4-person 'relays' of combined performances gave athletes the chance to get first efforts under the belt. The girls team posted 2nd place finishes in the 4x800, 4x400 and 55m relays, capping the evening with a dramatic win the 4x200 relay of Sandy Gardino, Mikeayla DeJesus, Abby Kuppinger and Caitlin Mills. The team was 4th in their 17-team field. Competing with several key distance runners still transitioning from cross-country championships, the boys team placed 11th. The season is underway.
November 30: One day short of their 7th month of Wildcats XC, Aidan Walsh, Peter McMahon and Matt Bartolotta took to the trails at Poughkeepsie's Bowdoin Park for the Nike NY Regional qualifier. None of the three made the leap to a national championship qualification, but all three ended with proud seasons. Matt's 19th place in this elite field of NY's best capped a strong November push to the close of his WG cross-country 'career.' College trails await him. Peter and Aidan will be back, leading the 'cats in 2020. The beat will go on for Wildcats XC.
November 23: The NYS Federation Championship factors were in Matt's favor: sunshine, negligable breezes, temperatures which markely contrasted with a frigid state championship the week before. Most importantly, he was not up sick the night before, as had been the case at SUNY Plattsburgh. A tactically conservative start gave way to progressive advances along the tough Bowdoin course. A strong back loop coming off the infamous Bowdoin hill put Matt in striking distance of the top-10 runners, and he pushed hard in the final long loop to come across the line in 10th, the second-best finish ever for a boys Wildcat at Federations. A brilliant race, his best ever.
---'States' of Cold---
November 16: A 6:45am Vermont to Plattsburg ferry across frigid Lake Champlain brought Matt Bartolotta from Friday's lodging to a 15 degree, frozen State Championship Cross-Country course and his 9:00am Class A race. Conditions were, at best, marginal. The course was re-routed in four different places on Friday due to dangerous footing and then changed again in the opening loop only a half hour before the start gun. No matter. Matt put together a strong effort, placing 23rd. His 43rd position in the total merge of 476 state championship runners propelled him to the 11/23 NYS Federation Championship at Poughkeepsie's Bowdoin Park.
---Team Finales Served Cold---
November 9: At the boys Class A 10am gun time, the temperature was in the low thirties and semi-frozen trails were just one more challenge for this hardworking group of guys. The thirty degree difference from their 9/7 VVS Invitational on the same course provided an apt seasonal progression. The boys put together a solid team effort to place 10th in the 66-team full meet merge--and Matt Bartolotta qualified individually for his third consecutive State Championship while Peter McMahan was the section's fastest freshman and a future contender. The girls later placed 8th in their Class A race and finished the season with a legacy of all-out efforts.
---Racing The Sun---
November 4: With the clocks turned back, it was a warmer but darker early November day for the sectional championship athletes. For most, the strategy is solid maintenance work and simply staying healthy. At the end of the week, most will be toeing the start line of their final race for their 2019 season. For some, it will be their final XC race as a Wildcat.
October 30: Most of the leaves are down and the temperatures are following. The Wildcats have been putting to good use an unusual three-week race-less stretch between their last invitational and the 11/9 Sectional Championship. Faster work has been layered atop the foundational fitness built since June. The plyo, core and movement drills continue. November, the sixth month of their season, is almost here.
October 19: Valley fog persisted into the early morning at the Marathon Invitational. The modified runners raced a different place than later varsity and junior varsity races. It did not matter. The boys modified placed second behind Charlie Lockwood's 3rd place individual finish. Claire Griffin lead start to finish as the girls modified placed 6 runners in the top-20 to win. Matt Bartolotta dropped his Watkins Glen competitor in the final half mile to notch WG's second individual champion of the day. Matt was followed by Peter McMahon in 6th, who earned the fastest freshman award for boys. The boys placed 5th in their seeded race, while girls captured 4th. Now the long 3-week training hiatus until the sectional championship.
---Rain, more rain---
October 17: The day after a rainy, muddy SCAC Championship for the Varsity/JV teams, the boys and girls Modified XC teams took a wack at bad-weather racing and performed well. Their Long Branch Park course puddled up before the first gun and all were soaked before they'd clipped off the first half mile. But it's XC in upstate. They persevered. The boys front-five of Charlie Lockwood, Mason Doran, Max Broccoli, Max Robertson and Jacob Service, placed 4th. The girls front runners, Claire Griffin, Molly Doran, Peyton Long, Bella Valley and Mia Gialto pushed their team to 3rd place. Both were improvements over their 2018 team finish. For the girls, Claire Griffin took the individual lead early and never looked back, winning that individual championship.
October 16: Following a picture-perfect Newark Invitational six days before, meteorological karma reared its fickled head. Getting wet wasn't the problem. All the runners were soaked before they even took the start gun. Baldwinsville did an excellent job of creating a new 5k course that eliminated course confusion while increasing spectator views of the runners. The relentless and increasing rain, however, took a toll on the trails--but the runners persevered. The boys team placed 5th in the whole-meet 14 team field and actually raced their best 5k team-time of the season. Matt Bartolotta placed an individual 4th in the 103 runner field with an all-time 5k PR while freshman teammate Peter McMahon came in 15th. Both earned All-League honors. On the girls side, Natalie Buckhout placed 23rd in the 193 girls Varsity/JV field. She was named to the Metro All-Division team. The girls squad, despite the loss of several key runners, placed 9th in the 14-team field. Bad weather brought out the best in the Wildcats this day.
October 11: The team bus was late and the final backroad miles to Newark Valley High School through valleys and hillsides in full autumn colors passed too slowly, so once there the athletes had to scramble to prep for races on a course they'd never even seen and now had no time to properly preview. No problem. The girls team shook off the rush and did some rushing of their own as they won their Large Schools division for their second invitational win of the season, with Natalie Buckout making the individual finishers podium in 6th place as she powered her fastest 5k ever. The boys varsity squad also reved up, earning a second-place plaque and led by two podium finishers, Matt Bartolotta in 2nd and Peter McMahon in 6th. They weren't alone in their efforts. Many on both teams posted PR's, with all racing an familiar course. Remarkable.
September 28: The T-shirt slogan goes: "All it takes is everything you've got." That's pretty much been the watch-phrase for the Wildcats this year. They leave it all on the course. Both varsity squads raced in the deep and difficult large schools seeded races, where the girls placed 12th and the boys 16th with all-out efforts on the fast and historic Genesee Valley Park three mile circuit. Matt Bartolotta ran his course PR and the WG #6 best time as he garnered a plaque for his individual 9th place finish. Meanwhile, the Wildcat Modified teams were making noise. The girls squad placed second and the boys fourth, with top-10 individual finishes by 7th graders Claire Griffin and Charlie Lockwood. The future looks bright for Wildcats XC.
September 25: Senior Day, the end of the 2019 league dual-meet schedule and pristine early-fall weather all converged as both boys/girls teams tallied victories against Henninger. Honored in a brief ceremony were seniors Abby Kuppinger, Hannah Craybas, Libby Morey, Zach Quinn, Jackson Mosher, Ryan McMahon, Matt Bartolotta and Joe Parisi. Due to a tranportation glitch, Nottingham was unable to attend and that seasonal dual-meet score will be derived from the SCAC Championship race on October 16th. With the last meet miles logged on the CMS home course, the season now tilts toward important nvitationals and championships.
---Late Summer push---
September 21: Summer, as well as the Wildcats, put in a strong appearance at the Baldwinsville Invitational. Temperatures rose into the 80's under a bright sun. Some Wildcats pushed through with seasonal best performances while others battled heat as well as strong competitive fields. Natalie Buckhout and Matt Bartolotta both notched their highest seasonal speed ratings as they led their teams. The boys placed 11th in the total meet merge of 59 teams while the girls were 6 of 45. Both teams tightened their #1-5 runner compressions, a necessary improvement, and both head into final league dual meets this coming Wednesday before the long bus ride for the big McQuaid Invitational in Rochester on 9/28.
---40 minute Hills---
September 16: On a crystaline day in late summer, the Wildcats put together one of their finest workouts of the season. The rules were simple. Run the half mile hills loop at Camillus Middle School for 40 minutes. Run the pace you could hold and take the recoveries needed. Rack up circuits. Everyone made dramatic improvements from this workout last completed in August Week 1. King of the Hill for the number of circuits this day was Matt Bartolatta, and Queen was Natalie Buckhout. For many, the work resembled a Grand Prix race: how fast can you take your 'pit stops' to maximize the mileage while you hold your place. They topped off the day with LAT speed-work on the soccer fields.
September 11: On a day when the thunderstorms never arrived but higher temperatures and humidity did, the Wildcats went 1-4 in their races against Baldwinsville and CNS. One of the cats' top runners had to drop out early in the race, which dashed any chances of an upset against their strong competitors. Matt Bartolotta and Peter McMahon, though, finished 2-4 in the race. McMahon currently holds the top freshman 5k time in Section III and the #2 freshman time in New York State. The girls picked up the lone win against Baldwinsville as Hannah Craybas again led the team. Despite the heat/humidity and racing off two substantial consecutive practice days, three quarters of the team notched their fastest 5k's of the young season. Progress.
September 7: The symmetry of the team season begins and ends on the trails of VVS, this year's November sectional championship site and the future rotating site of the NYS Championship. It's a tough, but fair, course, giving athletes a taste of everything cross-country should pack into a 5k race. The Wildcats arrived under shifting skies that offered cool temperatures and manageable breezes--but no rain--for their inaugural invitational of the season. Both squads came home with team victories in their Varsity 3 races and #9 merge finishes in their 40+ meet fields. Matt Bartolotta ran alone as he won his boys race, but was followed by teammate Peter McMahon for a 1-2 punch. Justin Malinowski captured the boys JV race to lead that squad to 1st place. And Hannah Craybas and Natalie Buckhout went #2-4 to lead the girls. Three firsts for the first invitational--a good start.
August 30: At the long end of the second 'pure summer' month, the Wildcats put their fitness on the line for the annual Blue/Gold Time Trial. A chance to feel the full effort of a 5k race, the trial is invaluable for veterans and newcomers alike. The winning squad in a 'meet' where every runner counts for team scoring was Blue this year. They stood first in line for the Team Brunch that followed. (Thanks to Steve Morey for the race photo)
---A Day at the Lake---
August 29: The team warm-up run down Ike Dixon Road ends at one of the area's finest views and an interesting practice site for Wildcats XC. Runners made the jaunt to Gilly Lake for low intensity training as they looked ahead to their annual Blue/Gold Time Trial on Friday. The competitive season looms.
August 21: Between thunder/lightening and a heavy downpour, the Wildcats slotted in their '40 minute Hills' workout. It was a solid efforts by the troops. They took whatever recoveries they needed, but the goal is number of laps on the hill circuit. Matt, Peter and Aidan finished "Kings of the Hills" while Hannah, with a hard solo effort, became "Queen." Fitness is being earned and appareciated.
---Piles of Miles---
August 19 - Day 1 of Wildcats XC 2019 featured a diagnostic time trial, miles of general conditioning runs and core drills. They're off and running.
---Wildcat XC Greats #2---
Sans hair, the 2010 West Genesee Cross-Country team accepts their 3rd place medals and plaque at the New York State Federation Championship. Left to right: Coach Delsole, Billy Gabriel, Martin Leff, John DeLallo, Matt Byrnes, Matt Gonnella, Matt Serao, Brett Smith, Coach Vermeulen.
The 2010 West Genesee Boys Cross-Country Team
The Wildcats first team qualification for the NYS Federation came in 2008. Led by Steve Houghmaster’s 8th place team finish, Tom Hopkins, Billy Gabriel, Sam Reedy, Martin Leff and Matt Gonnella powered West Genesee to 15th overall. Losing only Hopkins to graduation, they earned a trip back to ‘Feds’ in 2009. Senior Steve Houghmaster was again lead man for the ‘cats, surging to a 4th place team finish and a 188 speed rating, the highest ever for a Wildcat. He was followed by Sam Reedy, Martin Leff, Billy Gabriel, Matt Gonnella, John DeLallo and Matt Serrao as the team moved up one spot to 14th overall. In 2010, with Houghmaster and Sam Reedy graduated, the returners notched it up. At the September 18th Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Invitational, the Wildcats, led by Billy Gabriel, won their Varsity 2 race and finished atop the total meet merge of 57 teams. Gabriel ran #2 individually in the 415 runner individual meet merge, and the ‘cats put four runners in the top-20 of that merge. It was a harbinger of things to come. Two weeks later, the team lined up for the McQuaid Invitational’s large schools seeded race. The runners notched a stellar performance, the best McQuaid finish in West Genesee history. Three runners came through in the top-10(Billy Gabriel--2; Martin Leff—7; John DeLallo—10), and with Matt Byrnes at 18 and Matt Serrao at 35, the team placed 2nd in their seeded race and 2nd in the total meet merge of 174 northeast, Canadian and Midwest teams. It was on to the Manhattan Invitational, where they endured a minor stumble, finishing 13th in their Great Eastern’s race. A 2nd place finish at the Marathon Invitational the following week created some concerns about possible fatigue or early team peaking, so a decision was made to allow the top runners to ‘train through’ the CNYCL Championship in late October while moving up other runners. The gambit paid off as the ‘cats’ returned full force for the Sectional Championship a week later. In a strong Section III field, WG placed 4 runners in the top-16. Billy Gabriel(6th) and John DeLallo(8th) led the squad and qualified for states as individuals. Martin Leff(11th), Matt Byrnes(16th) and Matt Gonnella(30th) completed the team scoring as they finished 2nd to an F-M squad that would eventually place 2nd at the Nike National Team Championship in Oregon. The strong Wildcat showing also bolstered a resume that led to West Genesee’s third consecutive NYS Federation Championship team qualification. With Gabriel and DeLallo placing 24th and 55th at the state championship a week later, the others trained on. On November 19, roughly five months since the start of summer team runs, the squad arrived at Bowdoin Park for a course preview. The weather was clear, calm and comfortable. They returned the next day to cloudy skies but still reasonable race conditions. Of the senior-laden team—Billy Gabriel, Martin Leff, John DeLallo, Matt Byrnes, Matt Gonnella, Matt Serrao, Brett Smith—only junior Leff would take another start gun as a Wildcat. On one of the most difficult state courses, the Wildcats posted one of their best team cumulative times of the year—and their best ever at Bowdoin. The result, a third place NYS Federation Championship finish, remains one of the greatest Wildcats XC team accomplishments and led to a final #5 state ranking.
---Old and New---
August 5: With the dog-days of August(and opening team practices) approaching, two Wildcats have been investing the time and miles that will pay dividends this Fall. Junior Justin Malinowski is bearing down on his best mileage summer yet, while freshman Claire MacMullen is looking stronger week by week and will be a contributor to Wildcats 2019.
---Distance Camp wrap---
Another Success: Distance Camp 2019 grew slightly this year and, after a wet start, enjoyed good weather. Alumni Emily Young and Amanda Lowther(below at ends) taught the youth group while varsity members put together a solid string of mid-summer workouts. Looking ahead to August 19th....
July 23: The mini-heat wave behind them, Wildcats XC runners returned to cooler temperatures and a workout run a month earlier. It's good to check for improvements. There were many. Summer for these Wildcats is coming together nicely.
---Wildcat XC Greats #1---
Wildcat Excellence: Elizabeth McMahon(2007) and Laura Leff(2014) earned 9 state championship individual qualifications combined, Elizabeth with 4 and Laura 5, records unmatched since. They also shared 8 NYS Federations individual qualifications, with Laura garnering 5. At 'states,' Laura medaled 4 times, with 2011 2nd place finishes at both states and Federations. Laura medaled all five of her Federation races. In her 2005 state championship, Elizabeth medaled with a 9th place, and she was also twice the Section III champion in 2005 and 2006. In the height of F-M national dominance, individual sectional championships eluded Laura, but she still holds a special distinction. After qualifying for the Footlocker National Championship in 2011, Laura travelled to San Diego's Balboa Park, where she powered to a stunning 3rd place national finish. In a Section III that boasts top state/national runners and teams(including Olympians), her All-American effort remains the highest Section III Footlocker finish. Both Elizabeth and Laura were also national top-10 steeplechasers in outdoor track, and Laura was the National Freshman Mile Champion in Indoor Track. Fierce competitors both, they set Wildcat standards for future runners to match.
July 1: Effort and investment are often hard to quantify, but most coaches will insist that they know both when they see it. Libby and others have begun the speed-side summer investments that will create successful Fall XC seasons. The CMS trails have mostly emerged from a wet spring intact--just when needed.
---The Longest Season---
June 19: Cross-Country done right begins on the tail end of spring, soldiers through the heat and dust of summer and finds home in the cooling breezes and changing colors of autumn. The first snows of the winter ahead often visit briefly before it's all over. There's nothing like cross-country for breathe and depth. It's where middle-distance runners create the foundational fitness they will need for the entire running year ahead. With a visit from previous Coach Delsole, Wildcats XC team members began their multi-season journey with the start of a 5k-pace interval progression that will stretch into October. Off to a good start.....