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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 16, 2006

Guilderland boys' lacrosse team

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland boys’ lacrosse team will look to fill some holes as it prepares for the season.

The Dutchmen will have a young defense and will have to replace a couple of attackmen before they start their season on March 25.

"We have 13 returners and 11 seniors," said Coach Sean McConaghy. "But we have a lot of voids that we’ll need to fill. Two of our starting attackmen are gone and our face-off middie — a guy who won like 75 percent of face-offs — is also gone. We lost 140 points from the attack and two starting defensemen are gone."

Graduated are attackmen Kevin DeHont and Jon Tuttle and midfielder Dave Romano along with defenders Jeff Koss and Jimmy Benjamin.

"We need some of the juniors to step up," McConaghy said. "And the sophomores and freshmen."

The team has 25 players in all; joining the 11 seniors are 11 juniors, two sophomores, and a freshman.

The Dutchmen do return one of the best players in Section II — Mike Camardo in the midfield. Also returning to the midfield will be Bob McIver. Both will be playing college lacrosse upon graduation. Camardo will play at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and McIver at Binghamton University.

"What can you say about Mike," McConaghy said. "He can play anywhere. And Bob is the same way. The differences from last year is like night and day. He had 15 goals and 10 assists and this year he’ll have to be one of the studs on offense.

"Last year, Jon Tuttle was the go-to guy," McConaghy added. "Now, one of those guys has to be that guy."

On attack, McConaghy said that a sophomore and a junior will start, along with the only returning player — Sean Davis.


The defense will be anchored by goalie Judd Robinson, who had a superb year between the pipes in his first season as a goalie and will play at the State University of New York College at Oswego next spring. The starting defense could include some younger players around the returner Scott Raffensperger.

"The defense includes a freshman and two kids that started playing last year," McConaghy said. "We also have some kids that never played defense before until the second-to-last practice last year."

And Raffensperger played long-stick midfielder last spring.

"It’s nice to have Judd," McConaghy said. "We got him and Scott Raffensperger back. He’ll be playing close D. No more long pole [midfielder]. We have him as a leader."

Raffensperger is one of the team’s captains, along with Camardo and McIver.

The Dutchmen will have a tough schedule as they play some difficult out-of-league games. The Dutch will travel to Long Island, which has numerous talented teams and players, to take on Copague. The Dutch will also face one of the top teams in Section I in Lakeland High School.

But, as McConaghy pointed out, the Suburban Council will also be tough.

"We play Niskayuna, Shaker, Saratoga, and Shenendehowa twice," the coach said. "That, in itself, is rough. And Lakeland is obviously going to be a test early in the year."

The Dutchmen made a run to the Section II championship game last year before losing to Niskayuna, which ended up being the first team from the section to play in the state-title game. McConaghy said that his team can make the same kind of run.

"We are expecting big things," the coach said. "We expected big things last year. If we put in the time and effort, we can do it."

McConaghy wants to keep alive the tradition that Guilderland lacrosse has worked hard to gain.

"We talk about it everyday," he said. "It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of fun. We want to keep the tradition of the past 30 years. This year is the 30th year. It would be nice to do some good things."

Vorheesville boys' volleyball wins regional

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — The Voorheesville boys’ volleyball team achieved its second repeat for the second weekend in a row.

This week the Blackbirds defended their regional title by beating Living Word Academy of the Syracuse area for the second consecutive year. Last week, the Blackbirds won their second sectional championship.

It was a bit easier on Saturday, as the Birds won in three games, 25-12, 25-23, 25-15. Last year, Voorheesville beat Living Word Academy in five sets to win the regional title.

The Blackbirds were the first Section II team to win a regional title last year.

"It was a very satisfying way to end the season," said Voorheesville Coach Tom Kurkjian. "I was worried going in because Living Word upset the number-one and number-two seed in their section. I didn’t know what to expect. They had a third-place record but beat good teams in Ilion and Mount Markham. It was an interesting match-up They probably had extra motivation to get back at us after our victory last year."

"Sense of purpose"

Kurkjian said that the team understood the challenge that faced them at the regional match at Westmoreland High School outside of Syracuse.

"I think everybody shared the same sense of purpose," the coach said. "Actually, I’d think it was the best game we’ve ever played as a team. Everybody played within their abilities."

"I expected we would win," Austin Michalski said. "I was still nervous. I was sure it would be a very good bit of volleyball. Last year’s match went to five games and it was such an awesome match."

"It’s a great thing," Adrian Michalski added. "When we won it last year, we knew everyone was coming back and it was possible we could get that far again."

"It’s amazing," Ian Michalski said. "It’s the final piece of a big puzzle. When we were sophomores and freshmen we said, ‘Next year, we can win sectionals and maybe next year we can win regionals.’ But we were able to do it twice."

Adrian Michalski had 12 kills and three blocks for the Blackbirds. Ian Michalski set up a majority of those kills as he had 13 assists and six kills of his own. Austin Michalski, the third triplet, had four kills and seven assists.

Thomas Cavanaugh had seven kills and three blocks in the regional game. The Birds also got good games from John McNally, Mason Junco, and Matt Belgiovine.

"I was a little nervous," Ian Michalski said. "But I’m always nervous before any game. But once I get on the court my nerves calm down. I focus on winning and playing hard. I calm down because I know I have a job to do."

Kurkjian was worried that even though Voorheesville had the lead that Living Word could mount a comeback.

"The team they had was capable of running off some points," the coach said. "Even when we were ahead, 20-13, I was not secure enough to sub outside my top eight. Last year, we won the first two games and then lost one and then lost another one, before we came back in the fifth. We played them until the end."

"This is ours"

"I was watching them warm up," Adrian Michalski said. "I like to see how a team warms up. I get in position to see each team’s players"When we started out strong, I thought ‘This is ours.’ Even though we won in three games, it was amazing volleyball and we played through until the end."

"Before we played," Austin Michalski said, "I was watching them warm. I felt after the first game, that we could win the match in three games."

McNally was given the Sportsmanship Award at the match, the only award given.

The other seniors on the team — Kevin Goss, Austin Saddlemire, and Josh O’Brien — were also big keys for the team, Kurkjian said.

"They didn’t have an MVP or all-star team," Kurkjian said. "But they gave an award for team player and sportsmanship and that went to John McNally."

"We really played well," Austin Michalski said. "Everyone played within themselves. I knew, if we did that, we would win."

"We got a great effort from everybody," Adrian Michalski said. "Tom Cavanaugh had some key hits and Matt Belgiovine and Mason Junco on defense were great and Josh O’Brien had some plays at the net."

Most of the seniors have been on the team for three-and-a-half years, when it was resurrected by Kurkjian and the Michalski triplets. The program had been cut from the budget but the team played a half-season.

"This is certainly something to accomplish," Kurkjian said. "To win back-to-back and we did not lose a single game against competition in our size group."

"Serious about volleyball"

"This shows everybody that we are serious about volleyball," Adrian Michalski said. "We proved it by what we accomplished."

The players are very appreciative of how Kurkjian helped them.

"He knew we had a future," Adrian Michalski said. "We proved it by being successful. He was a great coach along the way. He never cursed us out and was very supportive. He came along with us and wanted to win. That was great."

The team also brought out the fans as they took a shot at another regional title.

"Half the bleachers were filled," Kurkjian said. "The superintendent, the principal, athletic director, parents, and teachers have followed the kids. It was nice to see them take the two-hour drive to see exciting volleyball."

Though their high-school volleyball careers are over, the Michalski triplets continue to practice twice a week with their club team and will play up until July when they wrap that up at the national tournament.

The Michalskis will also be making college preparations.

"It was a nice way to end with a high-level game," Ian Michalski said. "We are starting to take the next step toward college and the play will be at least at that level or higher."

Meanwhile Kurkjian will have a job to do to get more players out for the team as only four players return.

"The thing now is rebuilding with a capital R," Kurkjian said. "When volleyball came up in the 1970’s not any Colonial Council schools had it. And then we went .500 in our half season. We have 12 guys that will be playing for the rest of their lives."

Burns all-american

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — Gered Burns is the All-American kid.

Burns stamped his name in the University at Albany record books by becoming the school’s first All-American in track after finishing fifth in the 800-meter run at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships held at the University at Arkansas’s Randal Tyson Track Complex on Saturday night.

Burns, a graduate of Guilderland High School, broke his own school record in the event by running a time of 1:47.97. He finished 95-hundreths of a second behind winner Jackson Langat of Texas Christian University. Just 23-hundreths of a second separated the runner-up from Burns. Burns was the second American finisher in the race.

"Going into the final," Burns said, "I knew to place well I would have to run around a low 1:48. I felt great the whole race and at the finish when the times popped I saw what I was going for and I was really happy."

Burns was actually near the front of the race before falling to fifth place.

"He was right behind the second and third place runners but had no place to go," University at Albany Coach Roberto Vives said. "He had no place to go around them. He ran a very good race and a competitive race."

Burns earned All-American status after finishing second in his heat on Friday. His time in the heat was 1:50.40 but the top two finishers in each heat automatically qualify for the final.

"The race started out incredibly fast," Burns said of the heat. "After the first lap, I was dead last. It was faster than what some of the other runners were used to and they started to fall apart. I caught them and at the last turn I was in third place and I knew that only the top two were going to advance. I got past the second guy. I did what I had to do."

It was the second time Burns has run at the Tyson complex. He won the 800 meters at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 11. That experience with the track and facing tough competition helped at the NCAA meet.

"That meet gave me great confidence," Burns said. "There were a couple of high-quality runners and, even though I didn’t run the fastest time, I beat them. It’s definitely a confidence booster."

The NCAA meet was a great way to end a great season for Burns. Burns won the 800-meter race at the IC4A championships for the third year in a row and won his second America East championship.

"Team person"

But Burns was more concerned with team accomplishments.

"The team is coming around," he said. "The best part of the year was at the IC4A meet when we won the 4x400 relay."

"He is a team person" Vives said. "He knew he was going to the NCAA meet five days later, but we had an injury in our relay team and I needed him to run the relay. He ran the relay and the team qualified provisionally for the NCAA’s."

Albany won the relay in 3:09.39 and Burns ran a split of 47.2 seconds.

Burns will red shirt for the outdoor season. He will be practicing with the team but can not compete in meets wearing a UAlbany singlet. He will have one more year of eligibility to run track next spring as well as one more year running cross-country.

"I want to try and peak at the U.S. Track and Field Nationals," Burns said. "I will run unattached and red shirt so I can’t run at the NCAA’s. I’ll take the season and see how everything goes. I’ve got the week off and I’ll kind of start everything up next week."

Olympic goal

Burns’s ultimate goal is to reach the 2008 United States Olympic trials.

"It’s my main overall goal," Burns said. "I want to at least make the final. The last couple of years, with the way I’m progressing, I think I have an outside shot of making it. Some of the runners are on the down side of their careers and, in a few years, I’ll be peaking. Anything can happen."

And in recent years, it looks like something he can accomplish.

"The way I’ve been progressing, it has become more realistic than just a dream," Burns said.

"He was the second American in the [NCAA] race," Vives said. "He has a shot at the 2008 Olympics. If he stays motivated, he can be on the U.S. team in two years.

"He is real determined," Vives added. "He’ll red shirt for the outdoor season and come back next year. He’ll work for a full year and it will give him an extra opportunity to train in a collegiate setting. He’ll have a full year going into 2007 leading up to the trials. It’s a long-term plan."

The coach said that goal is very attainable.

"In two years of development, he’ll be in his late 20’s," Vives said. "He’s capable to run the 800 a lot stronger. He’ll be able to get his time down under 1:45 and that’s what it’ll take to make the Olympic team."

"Student of the sport"

A lot of what will get Burns there is how hard he works.

"He has tremendous work ethic," Vives said. "Everyone that steps on the track, he knows things about them. He’s committed and knows the bios of every athlete. He’s a student of the sport. He works hard and is very confident."

Burns is a geology major and will use his fifth year of school to finish his undergraduate studies.

Burns started running while a student at Farnsworth Middle School in Guilderland. And, in high school, he started track.

"My freshman year I started running track," Burns said. "I had good coaches in Coach [Pete] Wachtel and Coach [Dave] Kosier. They got me to stick with it. I started running and got into it.

"I won a couple of small freshman races," Burns added. "I broke some freshman school records. But I would have done it anyway. It’s an amazing atmosphere. I liked it all before I got good at it."

But he is not surprised he has done as well as he has.

"Anyone has the potential to do it," Burns said. "Anyone, if they put the time and effort in, can get a shot. I was seeded 16th going into the [NCAA] race. If I was going by seed time, I wouldn’t have finished. It all comes down to wanting it."

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