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Remembering 1982

   This year the Glenn D. loucks Games is honoring six individuals who won distance races at the 1982 meet, as they were among the top distance groups we have ever had.Here's how it went down - 30, wow, 30 years ago.

     On Saturday May 9, 1982, at approximately 2:20 PM, the first of our honored guests, Jeff Van Wie toed the line, running the 1600 Meters. Van Wie, who had won the 800 Meters the previous year (1:55.9), and would win that same event the next year (1:51.1 – becoming the 7th athlete in meet history to win three individual trophies), won the 1600 Meters by more than 2.5 seconds, with a fine 4:15.7 performance.

A few minutes later, in the Women's 1600 Meters, Desiree Scott's 4:55.0 was 2.2 seconds faster than the runner up. It marked the third time that she had medaled in that event, having finished fifth in 1980 (5:07) and having won the race in 1981 (4:55.1). The Mount Vernon senior was among the most respected athletes in Section 1.

About an hour later, Miles Irish lined up for the steeplechase. Noting the distance by which the Burnt Hills senior won the race (he ran 9:32.4, while second place was more than 19 seconds behind - 9:51.7), one might say that Irish won the race by "Miles" or that he was "Miles ahead of the competition". No matter how one phrased it, he had one of the most lopsided victories in Loucks steeplechase history.

A few minutes later, it was time for the 800 Meters and Carmel star, Mike Stahr. Pulling away from the competition, Stahr won the race by 1.2 seconds with a fine 1:52.2, a time which at the time had him ranked in the Loucks Top 10. His performance capped a great career on the White Plains track, including a 47.8 relay split that helped his Carmel team beat the hometown Tigers by one point in a duel meet.

The next race was the Women's 800. Lisa Fennell's 2:10.7 set a meet record and is still, some 30 years later, among the fastest times in meet history. She won the race by more than three seconds, making her trip north from Washington, D.C.'s HD Woodson worthwhile.

Following Fennell’s victory and after the 200 Meter final, the 3200 Meters, featuring the last of our honorees. Over the years, many of the spectators had watched the progress of Port Chester's Anthony Smith and as a local athlete; he had the crowd behind him. The extra support may have helped, as among our honorees, Anthony had the toughest, closest race, winning the "32" in a fine 9:09.4, a scant 0.6 seconds ahead of the silver medalist. For many in the crowd, it was great seeing a winner from Westchester County.

So it is today, on May 12, 2012, that we welcome back these six athletes (note, there were no races in the steeple or 3200 for the women in those days). We are as proud of them today as we were on that day, some 30 years ago.

As we gathered information about this fine collection of distance runners, we thought of other years in which there were strong collections of distance runners. Almost every year there is at least one or two fine performances, but there are certain years in which the meet seems to be packed with great performances from the distance crew. Collectively, they are among the most talented distance classes the meet has ever had. Individually each will always be able to make the claim that "I am a Loucks Games Champion".

So what were some of the other top distance classes at Loucks? If one were to scan through the yearly journal, one would find that there have been several outstanding years of distance running at Loucks. The meet has been a haven for outstanding multi-lap efforts, starting with the first year, 1968. The inaugural meet provided several legendary efforts from names that many track fans will still recognize: John Brady of St. Helena's, Billy McLaughlin of Sacred Heart, Robert Curran of Archbishop Stepinac and, of course, Denis Fikes of Rice (the first person in meet history to win the same event three years in a row).

The years 1974 through 1976 are considered by many to be the Golden Years for distance running at Loucks. It would be hard to argue that those making that claim were incorrect. They can provide names like Mark Belger of Mepham (he still owns the meet record for what was then 880 Yards), Bill Martin of Catholic Memorial, Don Paige of Baldwinsville, John Tuttle of Alfred-Almond, Wayland's Alberto Salazar, Robert Siehl of Morris Hills, Mike Hagan of Suffern, St Anthony's Pete Crooke, Princeton's Royce Flippin, Maurice Weaver of Power Memorial and Gene McCarthy of All Hollows. That group, winners or people who was close on the heels of the winners, is a group that still has their names on the Top 10 List.

But 1979 had some big names of its own. Meet record holder in the One Mile Run, Greg Herzog, of the hometown White Plains Tigers, Steve Hostomsky of North Rockland, Chris Logan of Bernard's and Lenny Hernandez of Memorial, all starred in the last year of the 70s.

By 2002, it was time for the women to take the spotlight. Molly Huddle (Elmira Notre Dame) set a then meet record in the 3200 Meters, before losing the next day in the 1600 Meters to a young Nicole Blood of Saratoga Springs. Stacey Ann Livingston of Boys and Girls was fantastic in the 800 Meters. There was star power there for sure.

The array of talent that was on hand for the 2009 Games was among the best the meet has ever had. Finishing 1-2-3 in the 3200 Meters were, Emily Lipari of Roslyn, Cornwall's Aisling Cuffe (who would go on to set the meet record in the event in 2010 and again in 2011) and Samantha Nadel of North Shore. Shelby Greany of Suffern set a new meet record in the 1600 Meters, while Charlene Lipsey of Hempstead ran what was then the third-fastest 800 Meters in meet history. Add to that the then-second-fastest time in meet history in the steeplechase by Ward Melville's Mary Kate Anselmini, fine 1600 Meter races by Tyler Stutzman of Virginia's Western Albemarle (#4 all time) and the # 9 all time by Chris Carrington of North Rockland, as well as a second consecutive 800 Meter win by Terrance Livingston of Great Neck South, and one could easily claim that no other Loucks Games could match 2009's group of distance athletes. .

The 2011 Loucks Games provided many excellent moments, especially in the distance races, establishing 2011 as one of the top distance classes in Loucks history. Led by outstanding female athlete, Aisling Cuffe's meet records in the 1600 Meters and 3200 Meters, the crowds were wowed by a relentless assault on the record books. Outstanding male athlete, Zavon Watkins, won the 800 Meters and the 1600 Meters, both in near-record time. Also in 2011, both steeplechase races resulted in meet records; Edward Owens and Laura Leff becoming the all-time leaders over the barriers and water pit. Also, Chad Noelle became the new record holder in the 3200 Meters, removing Salazar’s effort as the meet’s best ever.

Yes, over the years we have been fortunate to have some of the biggest names and best performances here a Loucks. This year's meet is honoring the six athletes who competed in the 1982 Games. In essence, the celebration of their efforts is a testimony to all of the great distance runners of the past, and of, course, those of the future. We want to thank all of them.



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