Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Members of the Broadalbin-Perth boys outdoor track and field squad pose together after winning the team title at Thursday's Section II Group 3 Championships at the University at Albany. Top row, from left: Alex Hitrick, Jeff Derwin, Doug Sutter, Noah Marek, Jordan Holik, Zach Romeyn and Brandon Frye Middle row, from left: Dylan Sweet, Jake Bunker, Biagio Bucciferro, Andrew Terleckey, Jake Coveney, Dennis Bogdan, Adam Rasmussen and Tim Zukas. Bottom row, from left: Greg Bogdan, Hunter Martin, Mike Visco, Pierre LaPort, Devin Page, Ryan Charland and Henry Caughey.
Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Broadalbin-Perth's Jake Coveney competes in the long jump at Thursday's Section II Group 3 Championships at the University at Albany.
By MICHAEL KELLY
ALBANY -- With his team's victory official at Thursday's Section II Group 3 Championships, the eyes of Broadalbin-Perth boys outdoor track and field head coach Jeff Richards watered as he spoke about his senior-laden club.
"To let these guys go out feeling this way -- this is what I dreamed of when they started back on modified," he said, his voice breaking midway through his statement.
The Patriots' 11-man senior class went out as champions at the University at Albany, as B-P used five first-place finishes to help compile 113.25 points and win the sectional title.
"This was my last chance to get it," said B-P senior Pierre LaPort. "And, I got it."
Ichabod Crane finished in second place with 105 points, while Albany Academy registered 101 for third.
The Patriots' title pursuit was delayed 90 minutes, as storms and a tornado watch caused Thursday's competition to start at 5:30 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. During that time span, the Patriots huddled together in a UAlbany gymnasium, unsure what was going on outside with the weather as officials urged athletes and coaches to stay away from windows inside the gymnasium.
"That's not an experience many teams have and it definitely made us closer," LaPort said.
The delay caused officials to slightly abridge the meet, as all trials and semifinals were eschewed in favor of timed finals on the track.
Seniors Greg Bogdan and Ryan Charland got the Patriots off to a strong start in the day's first event, as Bogdan came in third place in the 3,200-meter run and Charland came in a surprising fifth.
Charland's point-scoring effort started a trend for B-P, as several non-traditional stars registered scoring efforts for the Patriots. While Richards knew he could expect high-scoring days from his "Big Five" of Bogdan, senior Henry Caughey, junior Jake Coveney, LaPort and senior Mike Visco, the coach knew his club needed contributions from others.
"We'd stressed that," said Richards. "We've leaned on our best five guys, but we said if we were going to win a title that guys had to step up and fill roles."
Charland got that started for the Patriots, while junior Dennis Bogdan (fifth place, pentathlon), freshman Jacob Bunker (sixth place, pentathlon), freshman Jeff Derwin (fifth place, discus throw), sophomore Alex Hitrick (fifth place, 1,600-meter run; sixth place, 3,000-meter steeplechase) and junior Doug Sutter (sixth place, shot put) played similar roles for B-P.
"Those guys had guts," Richards said.
"In track, you can have a bunch of guys that are going to score a lot, but it's the guys that get the one-point or two-point scores that make the team," LaPort said.
And, B-P did receive big efforts from its stars. Caughey took fourth place in a fine 400-meter dash field, while Bogdan, Coveney, LaPort and Visco each scored in multiple solo events.
Besides his effort in the 3,200-meter run, Bogdan won the 3,000-meter steeplechase and came in second place in the 1,600-meter run; Coveney grabbed first-place finishes in both hurdling events and the triple jump, plus a third in the long jump; LaPort won the shot put and came in third in the discus throw; and, Visco came in second place in the long and triple jumps, and in third place in the high jump.
While Coveney turned in the day's most sparkling time -- the junior set the school record in the 400-meter hurdles with his mark of 55.52 seconds -- Bogdan, as he has done for years, did the heavy lifting for the Patriots. Besides his scoring events, the senior also ran in the 800-meter run, bringing his day's total distance run to 8,600 meters.
As he did before the Foothills Council Championships, Richards said Bogdan came to him with the idea to let the senior take on all four distance events.
The coach admitted he worried the wear-and-tear from the busy days could affect Bogdan's chances next week to qualify for the state championships as an individual.
"But this was more important to him," said Richards. "He told me (if he didn't do it), he'd regret it for the rest of his life."
The meters almost were too much for Bogdan. The senior did not score in the 800-meter run, his third race, and was visibly upset after the race.
"I've never seen him like that before," Richards said of his stoic senior.
But Bogdan still had one more race to go, and the senior put aside his disappointment to go out and win the steeplechase.
"I wanted to end on a high note," said Bogdan. "I wanted to win and I wanted to do what was best for the team -- and, it was worth it."
Efforts like the one Bogdan made Thursday were what drove the team all season, Coveney said.
"The seniors, those guys really pushed us," Coveney said.
But that started at the top. Asked if one Patriot stood out for making Thursday's win possible, Coveney did not hesitate.
"If there's one guy, it's coach Richards," he said. "He really made us believe we could win this."
That was not likely always the easiest thing. The B-P boys had not won a sectional title since 2003, 11 years ago -- or one year for each senior on the 2014 squad.
But the B-P boys also had experienced a tough 2013-14 sports year, of sorts. The school's football and basketball teams made it to championship games only to get blown out, leaving the spring's track and field season as the final chance for the team's athletes to cash in on the great overall year.
"We'd gotten a little tired of being second at sectionals," said Coveney, who played in both the championship games for basketball and football. "We really wanted this one. We knew we had to get it."
"We've definitetly showed everyone what B-P athletes are all about," said LaPort. "And, now, we got to bring home the plaque."
At the very least, LaPort did. After leading the Patriots around the UAlbany track with the first-place plaque in his hands, LaPort still had not relinquished control of the trophy to anyone well after the conclusion of the meet.
In fact, LaPort did not have any intention of letting it go.
"I might sleep with it tonight," he said.
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