Niskayuna grad Serafini, Mohonasen grad Sherman re-create winning performances at MVP Stockade-athon 15k

Lou Serafini, left, and Cara Sherman, right, cross the finish line Sunday
Lou Serafini, left, and Cara Sherman, right, cross the finish line Sunday

SCHENECTADY — On a sunny morning when the trees still clung to remnants of fall color, the MVP Healthcare Stockade-athon 15k itself seemed preserved in amber.

First run in 1976, the Stockade-athon barely drew 100 participants to a four-week online virtual option a year ago, while the COVID-19 pandemic was wiping out pretty much anything that involved large groups of people getting together in public places.

The Stockade-athon returned to its usual glory on Sunday, drawing almost 1,300 entrants, of which over 1,000 finished, most notably the respective men’s and women’s winners, Lou Serafini and Cara Sherman.

As former Section II distance stars, each brought a sense of familiarity to the results, anyway, but, remarkably, they also essentially re-created previous Stockade-athon performances, as well. In fact, the 24-year-old Sherman posted the exact same time (54:24) she ran while winning the race in 2019, and the 30-year-old Serafini barely missed, running 45:28, a scant five seconds slower than his winning time in 2016.

For both, it was a gratifying return to streets they’ve known since they were kids — Serafini at Niskayuna High, Sherman at Mohonasen — while finding a comfortable race rhythm from start to finish as a byproduct of training aimed specifically at this spot.

“I’ve got to work a little harder, I guess,” Serafini said with a laugh, referring to his five-second differential. “No, it was good. Last time, I had a bunch of people to run with, this time I was all by myself, so it was encouraging. It’s good to be where I was.

“It’s good. I’ve run these roads a thousand times, so it’s cool that there’s a race that runs up Grand [Boulevard] and through Central Park. Yeah, it’s just like being back in high school and running with teammates again, just being on the roads.

“Two years ago, I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did,” Sherman said. “This year, I knew what I was capable of, so I think I went into today more confident, knowing what I wanted to achieve better than two years ago.

“I love this race. Other than 2019, I hadn’t run it since maybe middle school. It was awhile. So it was nice to come back two years ago. I mean, I love this race. I’d come back every year if I can.”

Serafini, a Boston College graduate who works as a marketing manager for the Boston-based running apparel company Tracksmith, has been systematically grinding his way back into race shape the last few months, with 80-90 miles per week, and interval, tempo and long sessions each once a week.

He didn’t waste any time in the Stockade-athon waiting to see what that training might deliver.

By the time he got from the start at Veterans Park down State Street hill to Proctors Theater, Serafini was by himself.

After that, it became a matter of managing his internal race, while taking advantage of the fruits of his preparation.

He went through the 5k in 15:11, the second in 15:20 (30:30) and polished the final 5k, much of which is downhill, including the finish on Franklin Street toward City Hall, in 14:59.

“It was my first race in awhile, so I just wanted to go out and run hard,” Serafini said. “I kind of took the first 200 meters fast, and nobody came with me, so I was like, alright, we’ll just make it a good, honest effort.

“I tried to push pretty hard through 10k and set myself up to run sub-45 if I had a good last 5k, but it’s a wind-y course and it’s a little windy today and it was tough solo, so I didn’t quite get there. But I felt really strong, and it was good to just get out and race again.”

With no one to work with out there, he said it was a matter of “little mental checkpoints” to maintain a steady but aggressive pace.

“I knew where these guys were going to be, so 2 1/2, five miles, so just try and stay relaxed and get from one point to the next point to the next point until you can kind of feel the finish line,” he said. “So it’s all mental strength.”

Runner-up Michael McGonnigle of Hartford, Connecticut, finished second in 46:41, 1:13 behind Serafini, and Jonathan Aziz, who ran for Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons and Syracuse University, was third in 46:49.

Besides perfectly reproducing her finish time from two years ago, Sherman, who starred at UAlbany after graduating from Mohonasen, was able again to run negative splits for the three 5k segments of the race, posting 18:27 for the first, 18:10 for the second and closing in 17:47.

There was one subtle difference early, but she recognized it and was able to compensate, to the point where she got through the 10k in exactly the same time (36:37) in both 2019 and on Sunday, before finishing in 17:47 both times.

“I know my first 5k was five seconds slower this year, so I tried to focus a lot on the second 5k, and I think I came through the 10k a little quicker than two years ago,” Sherman said. “So I made up the time I lost, which I was happy about, because the second 5k can be challenging.

“I thought I should just go for it [in the second 5k], because you don’t know what would happen if you go conservative. I just thought it would be good to push it and then just try to hang on. It worked out pretty well.”

Like Serafini, Sherman is looking forward to the popular and historic Troy Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, but the Stockade-athon was the race her training was geared up for, so winning, while posting a time she could be proud of “was awesome,” she said.

“It was a lot of build-up, which kind of can get to you, mentally, sometimes, if you put everything into one race,” she said. “So I was happy that I stayed really relaxed beforehand, and I think it worked out well.

“I felt really, really good the whole time. I really didn’t have a spot where I felt weak at all. I was really happy. I think my training got me in better shape than I thought.”

Unlike Sherman, Karen Bertasso-Hughes of Selkirk, who competed in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials for the marathon, had no grand designs on the Stockade-athon.

In fact, she wasn’t planning to run in it at all, since she’s been nursing a foot injury from a few weeks ago that was severe enough to shut down her training and canceled some races and a trip to California.

As a member of the Willow Street AC, though, duty called. She wound up finishing as the second female, in 57:16. It was the longest she’d run without stopping to deal with her foot in the last four weeks or so, she said.

“We needed four of our team to score, and at 1:30 in the morning I got a message that our fourth runner was stuck because her plane was delayed,” she said with a rueful smile.

“I didn’t anticipate racing when I woke up this morning. I mean, it hurt, I’m out of shape, it sucked. Like, it wasn’t easy. But it’s alright, it’s a good place to be, and I’m glad I could do it for the team and be out here, and I’m glad that this event’s happening this year. I look forward to it, normally, every year.”

Top 100

1. Louis Serafini (30, Cambridge, Mass.), 45:28; 2. Michael McGonnigle (25, Hartford, Conn.), 46:41; 3. Jonathan Aziz (30, Aspen, Colo.), 46:49; 4. Sam Morse (38, Camden), 47:03; 5. Ryan Udvadia (25, Schenectady), 47:49; 6. Ben Fazio (26, Troy), 47:57; 7. Scott Mindel (35, Burlington, Mass.), 48:55; 8. Everett Hackett (31, Hartford, Conn.), 49:35; 9. Keith Machabee (25, Delmar), 49:57; 10. Daryn Hutchings (25, Saratoga Springs), 50:30.

11. Shaun Donegan (36, Malta), 51:06; 12. Tyler Morrissey (24, Clifton Park), 51:11; 13. Anthony Giuliano (42, Niskayuna), 51:38; 14. Jack Vite (25, Clifton Park), 52:02; 15. Peter Rowell (32, Albany), 52:28; 16. Matthew Blair (31, Troy), 52:44; 17. Alejandro Gauna (38, Delmar), 53:19; 18. Jeff Goupil (34, Arlington, Mass.), 53:23; 19. Brian Glikes (32, Albany), 53:36; 20. Michael Hamilton (34, Oneonta), 53:41.

21. Roman Silen (21, Malvern, Penn.), 53:55; 22. Nick Conway (46, Albany), 54:01; 23. Chuck Terry (39, Albany), 54:19; 24. Cara Sherman (24, Schenectady), 54:24; 25. Thomas O’Grady (36, Slingerlands), 54:46; 26. Aaron Knobloch (45, Schenectady), 54:56; 27. Ben Heller (33, Troy), 55:33; 28. Tim Russell (32, Saratoga Springs), 55:48; 29. Joseph Sullivan (42, Schenectady), 56:03; 30. Alexander Perry (32, Albany), 56:04.

31. Robert Irwin (48, Guilderland), 56:15; 32. Michael Dee (30, Syracuse), 56:20; 33. Patrick Allen (17, Schenectady), 56:31; 34. Keith Guilfoyle (55, Bayshore), 56:36; 35. Nathan Laing (26, Schenectady), 56:38; 36. Andrew Bank (18, Ellicott City, Md.), 56:42; 37. Matthew Conant (45, Ballston Spa), 56:57; 38. Todd Shatynski (45, Altamont), 56:59; 39. Michael Dinicola (46, Malta), 57:03; 40. Ryan Recchia (27, Jay), 57:04.

41. Joel Pekosz (44, Cheshire, Mass.), 57:09; 42. Michael Cooley (42, Delmar), 57:10; 43. Karen Bertasso-Hughes (37, Selkirk), 57:16; 44. Andrew Reed (50, Niskayuna), 57:22; 45. Michael Austin (40, Slingerlands), 57:24; 46. Brian Sadonis (35, Troy), 57:25; 47. Olivia Beltrani (27, Troy), 57:31; 48. Derek Grout (49 Valatie), 57:34; 49. Matt Becker (36, South Glens Falls), 57:36; 50. Thomas Joslin (42, Yorkville), 57:45.

51. Nicole Moslander (34, Schenectady), 57:49; 52. Jonathan Louden (37, Clifton Park), 57:51; 53. Volker Burkowski (50, Gansevoort), 57:55; 54. Jamal Vazquez (23, Gloversville), 58:08; 55. David Putney (57, Newport), 58:16; 56. Scott Moler (34, Saratoga Springs), 58:19; 57. Peter Conboy (32, Albany), 58:27; 58. Guy Delauniere (47, Niskayuna), 58:30; 59. Peter Koch (39, Delmar), 58:34; 60. Greg Hart (33, Saratoga Springs), 58:42.

61. Vincent Aceto (35, Schenectady), 58:51; 62. Thomas Hopkins (22, Princeton, N.J.), 58:52; 63. Devin Decker (17, Schenectady), 58:54; 64. Joseph Messia (39, Albany), 58:56; 65. Christopher Scoville (42, Kinderhook), 58:57; 66. Jim Eaton (46, Castleton On Hudson), 58:58; 67. Stephan Moessner (33, Niskayuna), 59:04; 68. Cory Battles (42, Liverpool), 59:10; 69. John Deer (39, Slingerlands), 59:13; 70. Allison Thayer (26, Brunswick), 59:17.

71. Michelle Merlis (32, Albany), 59:18; 72. Eric Young (30, Cohoes), 59:25; 73. Clay Lodovice (46, Voorheesville), 59:39; 74. Liwei Hao (39, Niskayuna), 59:51; 75. Phil Matthews (47, Waterford), 59:51; 76. Meghan Mortensen (36, Glenville), 59:55; 77. Greg Potestio (35, Delmar), 59:55; 78. Kyle Mahoney (40, Ballston Lake), 59:58; 79. Jian Shen (51, Albany), 1:00:06; 80. Ryan Fisher (41, Ballston Spa), 1:00:13.

81. Stephanie Popovitch (24, Medford), 1:00:14; 82. Scott Pierce (27, Albany), 1:00:22; 83. Thomas Gabriel (34, Schenectady), 1:00:26; 84. Nick Whaley (41, Clifton Park), 1:00:27; 85. Andrew Pavlou (34, Schenectady), 1:00:35; 86. Cory Wajda (46, Sand Lake), 1:00:58; 87. Derrick Staley (63, Ballston Lake), 1:01; 88. Shaun McGrath (42, Whitehall), 1:01:03; 89. Bill Hamel (50, Clifton Park), 1:01:07; 90. Kevin Phoenix (29, Schenectady), 1:01:08.

91. Emily Taft (31, Albany), 1:01:18; 92. Craig Dubois (58, Sprakers), 1:01:25; 93. Christie Macfarlane (27, Delmar), 1:01:48; 94. Emily Boerger (27, Albany), 1:01:50; 95. Ryan McCann (46, Albany), 1:02:04; 96. Conrad Yaney (37, Niskayuna), 1:02:33; 97. Paul Cirillo (45, Mohawk), 1:02:33; 98. Marta Dauphinee (43, Glenville), 1:02:33; 99. Julianne McCarthy (39, Mechanicville), 1:02:36; 100. Peter Maroko (18, Nyack), 1:02:41.

Reach Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected].

Categories: -Sports-

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