Bloom wrote quite a story

Niskayuna graduate state and national champion
Niskayuna graduate Andy Bloom will be inducted into the Capital Region Track, Field and Cross Country Hall of Fame Saturday.
Niskayuna graduate Andy Bloom will be inducted into the Capital Region Track, Field and Cross Country Hall of Fame Saturday.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

A small pencil is among the vast collection of items Andy Bloom gathered in his long throwing career, and to this day, it is among those he cherishes the most.

It was used by a heads-up official to mark his discus throw back at the 1991 state meet qualifier because the tape measure on hand wasn’t long enough to record his effort. No scholastic athlete from New York had ever gone past 200 feet like Bloom did. No one has since.

“They had to make a call to anyone who had a tape over 200 feet. We had to wait until the end of the meet to get the official distance,” Bloom, a graduate of Niskayuna High School, said Wednesday from his home in Dixon, Calif. “It’s a state record that still stands. It’s been 27 years. That’s pretty cool.”

The discus Bloom threw 202 feet, 9 inches that late May day in Johnstown is mounted in his parents’ home, along with the pencil that marked one of his first major accomplishments.

“That record is special,” Bloom said. “I’m the only thrower in New York to go over 200 feet.”

Bloom, who would later make an impact at Wake Forest and afterward at national and international levels in both the discus and shot put, will be among a group of 18 inducted Saturday into The Capital Region Track, Field and Cross Country Hall of Fame. The ceremony and banquet will take place at the Red Lion Inn in Colonie, after a get-together during the Everett T. Grout Memorial Cross Country Meet at Schenectady’s Central Park.

“I had no idea this was happening. The phone call came out of the blue,” said Bloom, a 45-year-old married father of three who teaches math at Ohlone College. “The opportunity to go in with so many great athletes, it’s a wonderful honor. I looked up to some of them when I was in high school.”

Six from the hall of fame’s inaugural class, including Bloom, went on to represent the United States in Olympic Games competitions.

“I got a lot of support,” said Bloom, noting local throwing guru Ralph Moore’s influence when he was a youngster. “A big group of people helped me get to where I got. I wasn’t afraid to work, either.”

Bloom’s toil paid off in so many ways and on so many big stages, yet there are days he wishes he could go back to and try again. His fourth-place finish in the shot put at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, is still the best finish for any Capital Region competitor to reach that sports mecca, but he had dreams of more.

“I felt I could win a medal in the shot,” said Bloom, who finished behind two other Americans while Arsi Harju of Finland won the gold. “It took me 12 years where I didn’t think about it every day.”

Bloom was back on the top of the medal platform soon enough with a shot put win at the IAAF Grand Prix Final. Earlier in 2000, prior to his Olympic experience, Bloom had defended his shot put title at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

“I won the second biggest meet that year [the 2000 IAFF Grand Prix Final] with the best throw of my life [71-7 1/4],” Bloom said. “I wish I had that two weeks earlier [at the Olympic Games]. Things happen.”

Bloom won NCAA Division I outdoor discus and shot put championships in 1996, though he never saw the latter effort coming. In fact, he was considering stepping away from the shot put after that years’ NCAAs in order to devote more time to the discus, his first love.

“My senior year in college, I went to the NCAA as the national leader in the discus and won that,” Bloom said. “The next day, I showed up for the shot put, and on my first warmup, I missed everything. My best up to that time was 62 [feet], and on my next warmup I go 65, and my coach says don’t do any more. In the finals I won with a 65 1/2, and I start thinking, ‘I’ve got to keep going with this.'”

Bloom kept going farther and farther still in both the shot put and the discus. His career-best in the discus was a 224-7 effort at an 1999 competition for elite throwers in California.

“I had a great career. I can’t complain about anything,” said the 1996 Olympic Games alternate in the discus. “It’s fun to go back and talk about the memories.”

Bloom’s athletic career led him to the University of California-Davis, where he served as an assistant throwing coach and its strength and conditioning coordinator.

“After a while, I decided to take a step back,” said Bloom. “Seven hundred athletes in 27 sports is an awful lot.”

Bloom, who will not be attending the hall of fame celebration, is still involved with his sport as throwing coach at Dixon High School.

“Sometimes I have to fight with parents,” Bloom laughed. “I have to convince them I know what I’m talking about.”

Hall of Fame Class

Arthur Allen (Mont Pleasant, Northeastern): Held Section II 200-meter record for 32 years. Two-time state indoor 300-meter champion and 200-meter outdoor champion. Nicknamed “Northeastern’s Fastest Human,” he is a member of the university’s Varsity Club Hall of Fame.

Tracy Baskin (Albany, Seton Hall): Three-time NCAA Division I All-American. NCAA 800-meter champion in 1987. Member of the 1988 US Olympic team when he was ranked No. 4 in world (ran a 1:44.43).

Nicole Blood (Saratoga Springs, Oregon): State and national high school champion in one and two-mile races. Two-time Millrose Games high school mile champion. Most decorated female athlete in University of Oregon history with multiple All-American designations.

Andy Bloom (Niskayuna, Wake Forest):  Has held state outdoor discus record for 27 years (202-9). State indoor shot put champion in 1990 and 1991. NCAA Division I outdoor shot put and discus champion in 1996. Placed fourth in shot put at 2000 Olympic Games. National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.

Shelly Choppa (Glens Falls, Arizona State): Four-time state high jump champion. Has held state high jump record (6 3/4) for 28 years. Ranked No. 1 in US by Track and Field News in 1988. Top jumper at Arizona State for four years and No. 3 on its all-time list.

Cheri Goddard Kenah (Saratoga Springs, Villanova): The first star runner in the “Kranick Era.” State and Federation cross country champion. Member of Villanova Athletic Hall of Fame. Part of world record 4×1,500-meter relay. Competed internationally for USA in Europe and Africa.

Miles Irish (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Georgetown): Held five state indoor records and won two state indoor titles. Set national indoor 600 and 1,000-meter records. Continues to hold state records for 1,000 meters and 1,000 yards. Member of world-record distance medley relay while at Georgetown.

Linda and Art Kranick (Saratoga Springs): Earned national and state coaches of the year honors. Guided over 100 All-Americans in track and cross country. Coached numerous sectional, state and national championship teams and individuals.

Tim Lewis (Shenendehowa, Colorado): New York champion in one-mile racewalk in 1979 and 1980. Member of 1988 US Olympic team. Multiple national champion in 20-kilometer racewalk from 1985-92.

Dan Olson (Albany Academy, Wheaton): Still holds state indoor (7-4) and outdoor (7-3) high jump records. Penn Relays champion in 2001. Two-time indoor and three-time outdoor national Division III champion at Wheaton College.

Kyle Plante (Colonie): Section II all-time leader for 200, 300 and 400 indoors, and for 400 hurdles, pentathlon, 200 and 400 outdoors. State indoor champion in 300 and state outdoor champion in 400 and 400 hurdles.  National indoor champion and outdoor runner-up.

Barbara Palma: Officiated at 1996 Olympic Games, three Olympic trials, and numerous NCAA and conference championships. Inducted onto USATF National Officials Hall of Fame, inaugural class. Developed and taught USATF/NCAA officiating curriculum at UAlbany.

Aliann Pompey (Cohoes, Manhattan): Four-time Olympian for Guyana from 2000-12. Five-time Athlete of the Year in Guyana. NCAA indoor 200 champion. Manhattan College Hall of Fame. Held state 400 record for 20 years and 1995 state champion.

Diana Richburg (Lansingburgh, UAlbany): US Olympic team 1984. National 1,500 champion in 1985. Set US indoor record in 1,000. Held state high school 800 record for 32 years and state 1,500 record for 29 years.

Rhonda Phillips Scott (Mont Pleasant, LSU): Established seven Section II records, and has held 600 record for 34 years. NCAA Division I All-American in 1988 and 1989. Sixth in heptathlon at 1988 NCAA championships when LSU won team title.

Deshaya Williams (Saratoga Springs, Penn State): State champion indoor/outdoor shot put, outdoor discus. NCAA Division I discus champion. Pan American Games discus champion.

Rudy Winkler (Averill Park, Cornell, Rutgers): National record holder in high school hammer. State discus champion 2011. NCAA and USATF national hammer champion. Member 2016 US Olympic team.

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

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