State Record Snapshot - Wildcats Surge to Wild Ending in DMR


While there might not be much track going on in New York State, there is plenty of history to pore through. In our time off, we are looking to revisit all of the State Records for the Outdoor Season. Who these athletes were, where their marks came from, and where are they now. Twice a week, we'll be releasing "Snapshots Of A State Record," where you can learn what it takes, to be put your mark on history. Tune in!

We look here at a record from back in 2010. Enjoy!

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The junior anchor for Warwick Valley is in the midst of a race that will reset the distance medley relay record books for a trio of NY teams along with the state, and there is an invincible force on the track named Chris FitzSimons of Hamden CT who is again blowing away everybody with another insane performance. But for the Wildcats' Tim Luthin as he battles around the final turn, all he knows is that for the second day in a row he was given the stick on the lead but has not been able to keep it.

Unlike last evening when he stayed a step behind FitzSimons while pushing Warwick Valley to 2nd place and the fourth fastest time in state history, here in the DMR he is in 5th place with a little over 100m to go. Way out ahead, FitzSimons is starting to break away from Jim Rosa of West Windsor-North Plainsboro NJ. Twenty meters behind the top two, Luthin is looking at the back of Liverpool's Colin Savage, while Otis Ubriaco of Burnt Hills (Deluge) has an inside lean for the 4th position and York (Kroy) IL is a step back in 6th. It's been a wild race with four different teams on the lead, and the Wildcat anchor is getting set to make sure that this DMR has a wild finish.

The first 1200m leg of the DMR was simply a duel between Liverpool's States' 800m silver medalist Zavon Watkins and WW-NP's Joe Rosa, with the latter edging into the lead at the end with both guys under 3:00 and setting up what seemed to be a two-team race. Warwick Valley junior Dan Paez completed the leg in 3:05.63 at about 7th. Dan Ramirez blazed a 49.07 second leg in the 400m for WV to pull back a few seconds on WW-NP and Liverpool and move into the fifth position. The third 800m leg for the Wildcats was Mr. Armand (sometimes called Pierre and preferred middle name Charlie), and he quickly pushed the Wildcats up to 3rd on his first lap and then went in hunt of 2nd place Liverpool. Armand collected the Warriors' Alex Wilke as they went around their final turn and left WW-NP behind, and the two then pushed each other down the home straightaway with Armand giving the Wildcats a slight lead with a season's best 1:51.95.

Now with Luthin on the final 1600m leg, the idea is to settle in for the long haul and see what develops, knowing he is up against some of the best anchors in the country. He's done 4:13.54 in the 1600m and should have the advantage over Liverpool's Savage, but Jim Rosa of WW-NP is coming off a 4:07.89 mile at the Adidas Grand Prix the previous weekend and Hamden's FitzSimons seems capable of anything.

300 meters into the final leg and WW-NP's Rosa has already made up a four second gap and blasted into the lead. The long-striding Luthin tucks in behind Rosa, and by the end of the first lap there are now five teams bunched in at the top and three more led by Hamden's FitzSimons moving into contention. Little changes through the next lap and a half, but then one of the commentators for the race video says the magic words. "Even though Rosa took it out in 58.0, he hasn't broken Warwick Valley," to be followed in a response after Liverpool's Savage moves past Luthin into 2nd, by the commentator's partner, "As you said he hasn't broken, he's starting to break." There is no real truth in the statement, and all hell is about to break loose.

FitzSimons pulls another superman act over the final 500m as he blasts past Savage and Luthin and goes off in pursuit of Rosa, who is trying to bury the field for WW-NP. Midway down the back straightaway it is again a two-team race as FitzSimons reels Rosa in. With a 100m to go the verdict is in doubt, but FitzSimons unleashes a kick that leaves Rosa just straining to get home in 2nd as Hamden takes the win in 9:56.50.

The last that was seen of Luthin with 300m to go, he did not appear to be a guy that was set to launch a big sprint to the finish. But moving into the second lane in 4th place at the top of the final straightway, the Wildcat anchor is finally ready to charge. He catches Liverpool's Savage with about 30 meters to go and then stretches at the finish to duck in ahead of Rosa with a 4:12. 39 leg. The Wildcats clock a 9:59.03 to break the DMR state record by more than three seconds. WW-NP, Liverpool and York are also all in under 10:00 in a tight-packed finish. The Warriors record the second fastest ever NY time at 9:59.59, and Burnt Hills is 6th at 10:00.06 to set the third fastest NY time. Our Lady of Good Counsel MD and Brookwood GA finish in to place eight teams under 10:05.

The results are a little bittersweet for Warwick Valley at a Nationals meet that sees them pick up three silver medals as the girls' DMR squad also places 2nd. But as with the Monroe-Woodbury SMR team that set the all-time state record at 2010 Nationals while placing second the night before, sometimes you need to be pitted against a spectacular champion to pull out your best results. And though they didn't know it on that Saturday evening on June 19, 2010, a national title in the DMR was waiting for the Wildcats nine months down the road.

In the decade since, only the St. Anthony's 2018 team has been able to go sub 10:00 for the third best NY time.

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When the track seasons kicked into gear for Warwick Valley, there were some signs of promise for a program that had boasted some state champions in their recent history and 2004 Foot Locker national champ Aislinn Ryan and the indoor and outdoor 4x800m champs for the guys in 2006. Coach Mike Potter along with assistant Curtis Akacki and the rest of the WV staff were graduates of a program built into prominence by Tim St. Lawrence, the longtime coach there who had retired in 2005. Both the boys and girls programs had flourished at WV, and in 2010 they had enough elite performers to make it difficult to guess at the beginning of the year about which Wildcat squad had a better chance of winning a national championship or setting a state record.

The boys XC team that had won the state title in 2007 and finished 11th at Nationals had managed a strong 4th at States the fall before, and its two top runners were juniors Tim Luthin and Daniel Paez. Two seniors who had shown in 2009 that they were capable of running a 22-something 200m or got sub 2:00 for the 800m were Daniel Ramirez and Pierre Charles Armand, who at some meets was Pierre Armand and at others Charlie Armand. Between Luthin, Paez, Ramirez, and Armand, there were the makings for a very good DMR or 4x800m squad. The four had the flexibility to not only push the distance legs, but both Ramirez and Armand could knock off a very fast 400m leg when needed.

Indoor season for the Wildcats was different from the year previously as the runners were unattached as part of the Wave Track Club and did not participate in the usual Orange County OCIAA and Section 9 track meets at West Point or go to the States meet at Cornell. All four guys were active in the Armory Youth series of meets and Luthin won races at distances from the 400m to the 1500m. The training worked well for the team though and Wave TC went to the Nike Indoor Nationals in Boston with some big goals. They came close in the DMR while taking the first Nationals silver medal there, finishing about a second behind Hamden at 10:08.50 for an NY indoor state record and getting a preview of Chris FitzSimons. A dropped baton and a DQ for interference in the 4x800m was a big disappointment, however. A quick drive back to NYC for the National Scholastic Indoor Championship at the Armory allowed for some individual results, as Luthin took 13th in the mile and Armand was 24th in the 800m.

With both the lure of that national silver and the goad of the DQ to spur the Wildcats on, they set their schedule  in the spring while reattaching to the school for a full Section 9 slate. The big event for the early part of the outdoor season was Penn Relays, and there is probably no better way to fill up a trophy case in a hurry than to win a Championship of America and get that big award that stretches across a couple of bus seats. That was exactly what the Wildcats did, though not in the DMR. A US #1 time of 7:41.77 in the 4x800m CoA earned them a highly acclaimed win over some top Jamaican squads as Armand, Ramirez, Paez, and Luthin all ran legs between 1:55 and 1:56. The DMR race was won by Good Counsel, with Burnt Hills, Liverpool, and West Windsor-North Plainsboro close behind in a trial run for Nationals.

Loucks in mid May was also a big meet for the Wildcats on the individual level as Luthin captured the 1600m in 4:15.82 and Armand was 3rd in the 800m behind the two guys who would go 1-2 at States, Marcellus's Mike Quercia and Liverpool's Zavon Watkins. The Section 9 Class A meet also saw some big performances from the WV guys as Luthin won the 1600m in 4:13.54 and Armand took 2nd in the 400m at 49.13.

Two days before the Section 9 State Qualifier, both the guys and girls had giant performances in the 4x800m at the Warwick Fast Times Relays. While the girls were beating Bronxville by more than 4 seconds in a US #2 time, the guys got a US #1 and school record at 7:36.43, going more than 5 seconds below their Penn Relays time. At S9 SQ, Luthin qualified for the 3200 while Armand did the same in the 800m.

States had mixed results for WV. On the first day Luthin was 3rd in the 3200 behind Burnt Hills' Otis Ubriaco and Greene's Chad Noelle in 9:05.88 while Armand placed 9th overall in the 800m. On the second day the Wildcats ran their third-fastest time of the year in the 4x800m at 7:42.97, but Liverpool was more than four seconds better to capture the States crown.

The trip to Greensboro for NBON saw Warwick Valley looking at three possible roads to a national title. The girls DMR team of Jacqueline Kasal, Gabriella Astorino, Kayla Leahy, and Lillian Greibesland had a strong shot, but the 4x800m was looking to be maybe a little too ferociously competitive in an historic year for NY girls teams. Both the nationally top rated guys' 4x800m squad and the same guys in the DMR also clearly had a solid chance. The Wildcats hadn't actually run the DMR during outdoors, but the indoors effort at Nationals provided just about everything they needed to know.

The 4x800m for the WV guys at Nationals was probably the the best opportunity for a national title, but on Friday when an anchor grabs the stick in 8th place and runs a 1:47+ leg to push his team past the Wildcats by 7:35.68 to 7:35.86, you just tip your hat and say that we have been beaten by the best. On the same night the Wildcats' S9 archrival Monroe-Woodbury was beaten in the sprint medley relay by another super team while still setting an NY state record that has stood for a decade. The WV girls DMR gave it their all the next morning, but the Blacksburg VA girls were still 10 seconds better, and the Wildcat squad had to be content to hold off Shenendehowa and Fayetteville-Manlius for 2nd.

As to the DMR that started the final leg on top and went on to set an all-time NY record, all you can say is was that it was a semi-magical year, like so may others through the sweep of NY history. In an extraordinary race with five teams under 10:00, the Wildcats were driven to a record that hinges on fractions of a second, the type of effort that is pulled from a runner when he is selling everything he has to push his chest ahead of the US #8 1600m guy to get his team the silver. It should be noted that Tim Luthin headed out to Stanford in the fall of 2011, and he may or may not have been given a big hug from his new Cardinal teammates, Jim and Joe Rosa of WW-NP. Funny how these things work out.

The Wildcats from the DMR and 4x800m squads kept moving after 2010. Armand would head off to run for Binghamton in 2010 and Paez would join Lehigh in 2011. Before Luthin and Paez graduated, they would be part of a national champ team team in March 2011 along with Kevin Grosso and Ray Farinella at NSIC Nationals at the Armory, holding off the NJ teams CBA and the Rosa twins' West Windsor-North Plainsboro to get that coveted trophy. The same Wildcat group would go to outdoors and finish 3rd behind Edward Cheserek's St. Benedict's squad and the Rosa twin's WW-NP squad. Luthin also tacked on a 1st at States in the 3200 at 8:58.92.

Before Warwick Valley, Liverpool, and Burnt Hills rearranged the state records in the DMR in 2010, the top mark was held by a team from Power Memorial back in 1976 when they were running the 1320y-440y-880y-Mile version of the DMR. And yes, Power Memorial was the school for distance legend Matt Centrowitz, Sr. (Class of 1973), and basketball star Lew Alcindor - Kareem Abdul Jabbar, but neither was on that record-setting squad. That 1976 team won the DMR at Penn Relays in 10:02.1 and included Maurice Weaver on the anchor mile, Gil Figueroa on the 440, and Al Fiorentino on the 880. The 1320 yard leg was either Mike Demko or John Sullivan, who were also on the team's championship 2 mile relay squad. The school closed in 1984.