Last spring 14 athletes representing six of the nine local outdoor track and field teams made the trip to the state championship meet.
Of that group seven will be building on the experience in an effort to make a return trip to the showcase eventat Middletown High School on June 7 and 8.
Among the locals ready to make a solid showing this spring are two-time state qualifier Mackenzie Ottati of Broadalbin-Perth and Amsterdam's Izaiah Brown, who already has a state championship under his belt. The sophomore claimed the state title at the indoor state championship in the 300-meter dash and will be looking to break his school record and national best freshman mark of 47.80 in the 400 this spring.
Canajoharie’s Seth Ferguson, center, leads Tom Dwyer, left and Jake Sammons over the hurdles during the Fonda Relays at Fonda-Fultonville High School on May 5, 2012. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
Ottati is looking to improve on a pair of 13th place finishes in the D-II 400-meter hurdles at the 2011 and 2012 championship meets.
Also returning to the track for another shot at a state championship are Fonda-Fultonville's Lindsay Therrien, Matt Hoffman, Tyler Angioli, Cameron Gilligan and Jacob Shave.
Also gaining experience at the state's highest level of competition earlier this season were Gloversville's John Knox III and Mayfield-Northville's Tom McClellan.
Both distance aces earned trips to the state cross country championships last fall. Knox also qualified for the state indoor championships in the 3,200-meter run, while McClellan earned a berth in the state cross country skiing championships.
The local teams appear ready to make strong runs at their respective league and sectional championships this spring.
The Fonda-Fultonville boys claimed the Colonial Council championship last spring and have the foundation set to repeat the feat and improve on their runner-up finish at the Class C championships. The Lady Braves also have all the key components in place for another championship season after winning the Class C title last year and placing second in the Colonial Council.
Long-time assistant coach Mike Benton takes over the head coaching duties at Fonda-Fultonville and will be assisted by Mark Therrien, Dave Petersen and Tom Carpenter.
Although hit hard by graduation, the Broadalbin-Perth squad willlook to its underclassmen to stay in the thick of the battle for the Foothills Council championship.
Last year B-P brought home runner-up finishes at the Foothills championship meet, while the Lady Patriots placed second at the Class B sectionals and the boys were fourth.
Coach Jeff Richards enters his 10th season as head coach and 14th overall with the team and will rely on the knowledge of an experienced crew of assistant coaches that includes Tom McGivern, Vinnie Calderone and Bill Bellinger.
The Amsterdam Rams and Lady Rams have their sights clearly focused on championship runs this season.
The Rams are looking to repeat as Big 10 champions this spring but have a loftier goal, bringing home their first sectional championship in school history. Amsterdam drops to the Group II division this year (formerly Class BB) after being classified Class A for many years.
The Lady Rams are looking to reclaim their Big 10 title after losing it last year by a single point to Albany.
Another strong turnout of quality athletes for the Gloversville track teams can bring the Huskies near the top of the Foothills Council and Class II competition this season. The girls squad returns all but two athletes from last year's team, while the boys have several athletes vying for varsity scoring spots.
The teams are coming off solid indoor seasons that placed both squads in the top five of the section. Knox earned a trip to the state meet, while Chanel Thomas, Amanda Cabrera-Case, Carolyn and Dayna Peck, Adam Sleezer and Alex Gifford were among the many athletes who improved over the winter.
With a low turnout this spring, Johnstown will be concentrating on developing individuals and improving each meet with an eye on the future.
In the Western Athletic Conference the combined Mayfield-Northville squad, Canajoharie and Fort Plain all figure to be near or at the top of the team standings.
Mayfield-Northville had more than 70 student-athletes turn out this year to bring a mix of new and experienced athletes to the track.
Last season, McClellan broke the school record in the 3,200-meter run for Mayfield-Northville and is poised to add his name to a few more distance records this spring, while Mary Ryan set a net 800 meter mark last year and looks to challenge for a few others this season.
Canajoharie sent one athlete to the state championships last year, freshman Mariah Pettit. She moved from the district in the off season.
However, coached Ellee Fichthorn and Kevin Stuttle are building around a group of young talent to improve on the boys runner-up finish at the WAC championships and the girls fourth place finish at both the WAC championships and Class C sectionals.
Balance in event coverage is the goal for Fort Plain this season.
Both the Hilltoppers and Lady Hilltoppers have a mix of experienced and new talent that will help the teams vie for individual sectional titles this spring. Veteran coach Charlie Karker has instilled Michael Jordan's philosophy "If we put in the work, the results will come!"
The Dolgeville Blue Devils lost top thrower Nichole Bliss, a two-time state meet qualifier, to graduation along with Raymond Ruggerio and Jake Darling.
Coaches Justin and Matt Randall will contend for the Center State Conference title with a young, inexperienced team this season as they look to rebuild.
The track teams will deal with a new classification system this season, as Section II has moved away from the Class A, BB, B, CC and C. The new format breaks teams down into Group 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Amsterdam, Gloversville and Johnstown will compete in the Group 2 sectional meet, while Broadalbin-Perth, Mayfield-Northville and Fonda-Fultonville are in Group 3. Canajoharie and Fort Plain are in the Group 5 classification.