Ram & Lady Ram top-tier T&F performers just miss making States, eye college grants
March 7, 2019 at 7:56 a.m.
The winter indoor Track & Field state championships took place last Saturday (3/2) at Staten Island's Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex where a quartet of Westchester twins left aficionados seeing double as these middle distance runners all won college athletic scholarships.
That was something noticed by promising Port Chester Ram and Lady Ram T&F stalwarts who came close to qualifying for the States while edging closer to achieving scholarship times and distances themselves.
The sets of middle-distance scholarship-winning twins included Ursuline's Lily and Sara Flinn who are going to Stanford and Boston College respectively on free rides while Matt and Alex Rizzo will be doing likewise on their way to Stanford and the U.S. Naval Academy respectively.
Top Rams, Lady Rams
The Rams and Lady Rams coming closest to scholarship performances are junior middle-distance runners Joe Tapia and Tommy Perrone and field event aces Ayenaliz (Nani) Velasquez and George Tsoukalas.
As the outdoor euphemistically-called spring T&F season got started Monday (3/4) at the high school with more than 100 varsity candidates running through the halls because it was too cold to run outside, head coach Nick Mancuso recalled how well several of his varsity top performers had done in coming close to qualifying for the States. Even as he eyed the team's most promising candidates for the upcoming season.
Junior Joe Tapia, for example, ran the 1,600 meters in a personal best 4:32.99 during the state qualifying meet Feb. 7 at the 168th St. Regiment Armory in New York City. That very respectable time didn't qualify him for the States but made him a likely candidate to make the state competition next year.
Time to improve
That also brought him to within 11 seconds of the time he needs for his desired shot at a T&F scholarship to MIT next year. Coaches there start considering runners for scholarships when they run in the 4:21 range.
That gives Tapia a year of cross country running, off-season training and yet another indoor/outdoor season to come closer to bridging that gap. That also motivates Tapia's training partner, Perrone, a sophomore, to keep digging deeper into reducing his time, 10:29.05 for the 3,200 meters, so he inches closer to becoming a college-scholarship middle distance runner.
Velasquez and Tsoukalas, both seniors, also had impressive performances in the state qualifying meet while coming up just short of making the States.
Velasquez long jumped 15:01.00, about 3 feet short of a potential scholarship leap, while Tsoukalas did likewise in the triple jump by hitting 39:10.50. It helps that both are also outstanding sprinters.
Velazquez clocked 7:76 for the 55 meters while Tsoukalas went under 23 seconds for the 220-yard dash.
The team captains
Velasquez, Tsoukalas and Tapia and their top-tier efforts were recognized by Mancuso and their teammates when they were named captains of their respective Ram and Lady Ram teams. Tsoukalas and Tapia were named co-captains along with senior sprint ace Brandon Mejia, Tapia because of his ability to run anything from the half mile to the mile to the 2-mile and Tsoukalas because of his sprint, long jump and relay-running ability.
Velasquez shared co-captain Lady Ram honors with her training partner Amanda Andreoli who upset Velasquez for the league long jump championship while being right on her heels at other times in the long jump, sprints and relays.
The early standouts
Other early season standouts include such Lady Rams as ex-basketball and volleyball ace Arianna Carlucci in the sprints, relays and high jump and volleyballer Moya Cameron in the same events as well as the hurdles. Both are seniors as is perhaps the Lady Rams’ top middle-distance runner Ashley Alvarez, also an outstanding soccer player.
Sophomores Cindy Gonzales and Camila Napoli are coming on strong as distance runner and sprinter/long jumper respectively. And freshman soccer standouts Ashley Garcia and Stephanie Saldivar are standouts in the sprints, relays and long jump. So Lady Rams head coach Danny Alvarado, also the Lady Rams’ soccer coach, has a lot of talent to work with.
Key Ram sprinters for Mancuso include junior Jonathan Hidalgo and senior Santiago Valdovinos. And in an interesting development, ultra-promising freshman Gilbert Maurad, a solid middle-distance runner indoors and a near All-League performer in cross-country, has opted out of running for the Rams outdoors to train instead with a Bronx T&F club.
The Foxes waiting
All those names add up to a lot of T&F talent. And they will need every bit of that talent when they go up against a strong Fox Lane team in the season's opening meet away Mar. 26 at 4:30 p.m. But that's what pre-season training is for, running and jumping indoors during inclement weather and outdoors weather permitting, something that seems unlikely in the immediate future.
But you can bet the Ram and Lady Ram top talents will keep training hard no matter the weather. Especially those thinking in terms of college scholarships.