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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: Shen indoor relay ready for Border Clash at MSG

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Shen indoor relay ready for Border Clash at MSG

The Shenendehowa boys varsity track team is comfortable making history and will earn entry into the record book when the indoor 4 x 800-meter squad competes at Madison Square Garden in the first-ever Border Clash as part of the 101st Millrose Games.

The annual indoor track event brings together the greatest group of runners in the world competing in high school, collegiate and elite events. For the first time, a high school 4 x 800 relay will be contested with six entries, three from New York and three from New Jersey.

The event was a surprise to the Plainsmen harriers and quickly became a goal.
“We saw it posted by John McDonald on and we all started to talk about it,” Shenendehowa junior Brian Trainor said.

The challenge facing the group was deciding on a four-man relay and then posting a fast enough time among the New York elites to earn an invitation.

“We switched up our relay before Yale (Invitational),” Trainor said. “We knew we needed a eight (minute) relay to get in and our best before was an 8:19.
“We didn’t know what time we had to hit,” Trainor said. “We knew there would be some fast times at the New Balance Games (at NY Armory Track and Field Center).”

The group also had to convince distance coach Rob Cloutier that they could run a winning time for the meet and entry into the Border Clash.

“They heard about it and we decided to take a shot,” Cloutier said. “We had to switch some guys around and it became an added perk to the season.”

The foursome of Ryan Jones, Brian Trainor, Zac Suriano and Jamie Glover completed their ovals in eight minutes, 1.05 seconds at the CT Interscholastic Track and Field Classic, beating out Colonie High by four seconds for first place at 8:05.53.

Then they had to wait for the phone to ring.

“We looked through all the results all weekend on the internet,” Suriano said. “We figured we were the third team to qualify.”

The call finally arrived and the group is now focused on improving their place from third-best in New York to best in the Northeast.

“Running a relay in the Garden is a different type of scenario,” Cloutier said. “There are 11 laps to a mile and a lot of dangers between the hand-offs and the relay zone.”

Even with Shenendehowa’s four horseman running in front of 20,000 screaming track fans, Cloutier’s relay strategy won’t change.

“We go out strong fist and last,” Cloutier said. “We try to control the race in the beginning. It’s hard to run from the back and you only get one move.”

The Plainsmen runners are prepared to compete in front of one of the largest crowds they have ever seen as well as on television for the inaugural event.

“We’ve all been in big races,” Suriano said. “It might be different when we get there, but it’ll be a great experience no matter how fast we run.”

ESPN2 will be broadcasting the Millrose Games from 7 to 8 p.m. The Border Clash is scheduled for 6:53 p.m.

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