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Olivia Jack’s state title among fall scholastic highlights

Scotia senior wins final high school race — and other standout moments
Clockwise from top left: Olivia Jack; Ja-Del Whitfield; Davia Rossi; and Maazin Ahmed.
Clockwise from top left: Olivia Jack; Ja-Del Whitfield; Davia Rossi; and Maazin Ahmed.

The only thing missing from Olivia Jack’s high school swimming resume was a state championship, and after coming so close so many times, the Scotia-Glenville High School senior had one last chance to get one.

“I wasn’t actually that nervous,” Jack said of the moments before the final swim of her scholastic career. “It was a weird feeling. I usually am.”

Calm and collected diving into the Ithaca College pool and the fastest individual in it, Jack prevailed in the 100-yard breaststroke to claim a New York State Public High School Athletic Association title after five times placing second at the season-ending meet.

One of those runner-up performances came earlier at the Nov. 18 state meet in the 100-yard butterfly final.

“She was in the lead until the last three strokes,” Scotia-Glenville swimming coach Dirk Francois said. “She couldn’t move her arms and got out-touched. Another second place.”

Jack also placed second at the 2016 state meet in the 100 freestyle, and for the third time she took second in the 100 breaststroke. In each of those breast swims she clocked All-American times, only to get edged out by Long Beach star Margaret Aroesty who is swimming now for USC.

“After the preliminaries she was the No. 1 seed,” Francois said of of this year’s 100 breast competition. “It had always been that way and someone out-touched her. Before the final I told her, ‘I’ve got nothing left to say. You’re a senior. It’s your last race,’ and she got it.

“It may not have been her best time, but she got it.”

The Penn State-bound Jack earned All-American status for the fourth year in a row with her 1:02.06 finish in the 100 breast. Jessica Wang of Great Neck South was second in 1:02.77.

“I knew the people next to me weren’t close to me, but I wasn’t sure about the others,” said Jack, who competed scholastically for the Burnt Hills/Scotia team. “When I saw No. 1 next to my name it was a really nice feeling. My parents always told me I could do it, and to actually do it, it was a great feeling.”

Jack is the Section II record-holder in the 100 breast with a 1:01.33 which she swam at the 2016 Section II championship meet preliminaries. She won 11 Section II titles including eight in individual events.

Here are a few more highlights from the Section II fall sports season.


The Section II cross country championships included a win by senior Maazin Ahmed, who became the first Schenectady High School athlete to do so, and the first runner from a Schenectady public school to prevail since Ike Weston of Mont Pleasant in 1979.

Ahmed won the Class A race ahead of Donovan Tucker, who led Niskayuna to its first team championship since 1981. Shenendehowa won the girls’ Class A team title, ending Saratoga Springs string at 17 in a row while claiming its first since 1995.

But weeks later, Saratoga — being Saratoga — edged Shen to win the Federation meet.


Section II never had a football team repeat as champion in the history of the state tournament until Cambridge beat Maple Grove 26-14 in defending its Class D crown. Two days later Troy knocked off  Lancaster 41-26 in the Class AA final for its second consecutive New York title, and its fourth championship in the tournament’s 25-year run.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake successfully defended its boys’ NYSPHSAA Class B cross country title before notching another win at the Federation meet.


Joey Ward’s 26-yard touchdown run to finish off Troy’s state football victory was No. 1 on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays that day. The senior eluded six would-be tacklers in scoring his fourth touchdown at the Carrier Dome. He ran for three of those TDs as part of a 38-carry, 227-yard performance.


Holy Trinity sophomore quarterback Joe Tortello blew away the Section II touchdown pass record with 39 of them, including 22 in the Pride’s six postseason football games.

Tortello threw his last four TD passes in a 28-25 state Class C title-game loss to Skaneateles. Josh Nethaway of Fonda-Fultonville had held the Section II record since 2008, when he threw 30 TD passes.


Tortello’s passing exploits were part of an amazing season for Holy Trinity (11-2), which had never won more than five games or had a playoff win before this fall. The Pride earned a share of the Class C North Division title before topping Voorheesville, Chatham, Stillwater, Ogdensburg Free Academy and John S. Burke Catholic in postseason play to extend their win streak to 10 games.


Schalmont soccer standout Davia Rossi scored less than a minute into the Sabres’ 2-0 Section II Class B title-game win over Mechanicville, that goal part of a wonderful comeback for the youngster who starred as an eighth-grader but missed her freshman season while combating non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

In 2015, Rossi scored the game-winning goal when Schalmont beat Wilson 2-0 for the state championship.


A national debate became local when several members of the Niskayuna football team and a cheerleader took a knee for the National Anthem prior to their Sept. 28 game against Guilderland to protest racial injustice. The silent protest was discussed beforehand as a team, including with head coach Brian Grastorf. “If they have the proper why and they feel that’s what they want to do, they know that — 100 percent — I got their back,” Grastorf said afterward. Not every team member participated, and the demonstration sparked heated debate on social media, just as it has with NFL players’ protests this season.


Freshman Madison Relyea had a big season as the lone member of Mayfield’s girls’ cross country team with wins at the Grout Run, Galway, Burnt Hills and Greenwich invitationals, and at the Western Athletic Conference championships. Relyea placed second at the Section II Class D meet behind Greenwich ace Brynne Wright, whom she beat at the Grout in Schenectady.


Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake swept South Glens Falls to win its 16th straight Section II girls’ volleyball title and break a tie with Lake George (1989-2003) for consecutive area championships. Burnt Hills went on to beat Massena and Oswego in the state Class A regionals for coach Gary Bynon’s 698th and 699th victories with the Spartans. He passed former Lake George coach Cathy Stanilka (673) on the all-time Section II wins list early in the season.

The Shenendehowa girls’ volleyball team won its eighth straight Section II Class AA title, the Fort Ann boys’ soccer team claimed its eighth consecutive Section II Class D crown, and the Burnt Hills field hockey team copped its sixth straight Section II Class B championship. And don’t forget the Greenwich girls’ cross country team, which won its 14th consecutive sectional title among different classes.


The Shenendehowa girls’ volleyball team reached its first state Class AA final before losing to Connetquot in five sets.

The Plainsmen beat Baldwinsville in the regionals for the fourth year in a row after losing to the Bees in each of the four regionals before. The Plainsmen went 5-1 in the state semifinal pool play round to reach the title match where they let a 2-1 lead get away. What will next year bring?

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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