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Niskayuna runners at Millrose Games

Niskayuna runners at Millrose Games

Present and past will represent high school
Niskayuna runners at Millrose Games
Niskayuna's Skyler Smith, Charlotte Kokernak, Maddie Beltramo and Maddy Hessler, from left, will compete at the Millrose Games.
Photographer: PHOTO PROVIDED

A Niskayuna foursome looking to make a name for itself and a Niskayuna alum who already has will compete Saturday at the 112th Millrose Game at The Armory's New Balance Track & Field Center in New York City.

Charlotte Kokernak, Maddie Beltramo, Maddy Hesler and Skyler Smith will be the third Silver Warriors group in as many years to run the Girls' New Balance Invitational 4x800-meter relay, and afterward, 2009 graduate Louis Serafini will participate in the Allen Steinfield Men's Mile. Those events are scheduled to go off at 2:03 p.m. and 3:11 p.m., respectively.

"It's great to have past and present Niskayuna athletes being well represented at such a prestigious event," Silver Warriors coach Jason DeRocco said.

The Niskayuna relay team was invited to the Millrose Games after running a season-best 9:31.45 at the Dr. Sander Invitational on Jan. 26, which was held at The Armory. Niskayuna is the No. 8 seed. Shenendehowa is the No. 4 seed with a 9:25.64 which was also recorded at the Dr. Sander Invitational when the Plainsmen placed second ahead of Niskayuna.

"I am hoping for a sub-9:24," DeRocco said. "At the Dr. Sander, two teams got away from the pack and our girls didn't have a good push. It was a smaller field. With 14 teams, there will definitely be some push."

Kokernak, a senior, is the lone returning runner from last year's Niskayuna team that placed third at Millrose with a 9:14.73. Niskayuna's 2017 edition won the relay in a national-best 9:12.98. That team included Kokernak's older sister Amelia and Smith's older sister Sydney.

"Try not to get overwhelmed by the experience," DeRocco said of his message to the girls. "Enjoy the moment. It's a great honor to be invited, and take advantage of it."

Saratoga Springs will have a team entered in the Polar Boys' 4x800 relay (1:45 p.m. start). The Blue Streaks are seeded No. 9 with an 8:03.36.

Serafini won numerous distance championships at Niskayuna (he was the 2009 Section II Division II indoor 1,000 and 1,600 champion) and later at Boston College. He currently competes for Tracksmith Hare Athletic Club from Boston.

"He tried to qualify for the [Millrose] high school mile his senior year and got sick," DeRocco said. "He couldn't get the time. So many years later, he gets to run there."

Saratoga senior Shea Weilbaker will run in the New Balance Boys' Mile (3:18 p.m. start) as the No. 5 seed out of 13 competitors with a 4:15.88.

Fellow Saratoga senior Kelsey Chmiel was invited to the Millrose Games to run the New Balance Girls' Mile, but has opted to rest up with en eye on postseason competition. Chmiel placed second in the mile last year.

On Thursday, Averill Park senior James Cocca placed fifth (62-10) in the boys' weight throw.

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