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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 5, 2011

Great competition lifts Guilderland track-and-field team

By Jordan J. Michael

COLONIE –– Shaker’s impeccable distance and Colonie’s flashy speed didn’t leave Guilderland much room for fault on Shaker’s track on Tuesday. The field events didn’t give much of an edge either, so the Dutchmen tried to push themselves as much as possible.

Guilderland Head Coach Pete Wachtel was aware of Shaker’s and Colonie’s strengths as the two top teams in the area, but that didn’t seem to alter any plans.

“My last name starts with “W,” so I’m always trying to win,” Wachtel said, rather seriously. “Our team is very competitive.”

The Blue Bison ran away from the field, beating Guilderland 123 to 58 and Colonie 113 to 67. Only 18 points separated the Dutch from the Red Raiders.

“Shaker and Colonie are titanic teams,” said Jason Burlingame, a Guilderland coach. “I think our runners can learn from their forms and try to get personal bests. They drag you along.”

The Dutch did have many high points throughout the meet, including personal bests by sophomore Mike Hale in both the shot put (42 feet, 5 inches) and the discus (119 feet, 2 inches). Nico Turek was second in the 800-meter with a time of 1:59.5 and Shawn Playford was second in long jump with a distance of 19 feet, 1 inch.

Discus and shot put take place away from all the commotion, making it easier for the athletes to concentrate. “No one is talking or staring at you,” Hale said. “You don’t have to over think anything.”

“It’s not about how strong you are,” said Neel Nayak, the other varsity thrower for the Dutch. “It’s about the technique that you use. You can throw as far as you want to.”

Playford, a senior, has been competing in four events this season –– high jump, long jump, triple jump, and the 4 x 100-meter relay. Playford’s clearance of 5 feet, 8 inches in high jump was good enough for third.

“You get used to the demand after doing it for so long,” Playford said. “I’ll rest for a minute, stretch, and then go to the next event. Keep warm and stay consistent.”

Brandon Courtney was so tired, he said, after running the 400-meter hurdles for Guilderland that he totally gave out on a high jump attempt, coming down on the bar. The bar had to be replaced with a new one.

“It was pretty strange,” Courtney said.

Matt Wright has been coaching Guilderland pole-vaulters for seven years. On Tuesday, Wright had his watchful eye on Sean Doyle and Steven Ratner, both trying to clear 9 feet, 6 inches.

“It’s such a technical event,” Wright said. “It’s sequential and you’ve got to be a little aggressive and wild. There’s so many pieces to a vault, so I can’t explain everything to the athletes all at once.”

Doyle and Ratner were working on what Wright calls “the turn,” which is the final phase of a vault. “When you’re going over the bar, the idea is to get your chest going over, not your back,” said Wright.

Ratner, who has cleared 10 feet, 6 inches this season, said he had a two-week span where he couldn’t vault at all. He had to overcome his fear and clear his mind.

“You just have to trust your instincts,” Ratner said. “Think about all the steps and get back to the basics.”

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