Nov 01 2018

Keeping An Eye On What Is Important

Cazenovia High School sophomore Jake Tobin was in the lead at the boys’ junior varsity cross-country race during the Auburn Invitational in upstate New York. He had about 200 meters to cover when another runner passed him.

Luke Fortner, a Fairport High School senior, is legally blind. He passed Jake as they were running up the final steep hill. The crowd was cheering for Luke when he slipped in the mud and fell.

Without hesitation, Jake, who also had been supportive of Luke’s competitive spirit, helped lift his fellow runner with the assistance of Luke’s aide. The three then crossed the finish line.

“Jake got down and lifted him up with his guide, and then helped push him up the hill,” Cazenovia cross-country coach Jason Hyatt told the local newspaper. “It was touching to see, and it will be a memory I’ll carry with me for a long time. A great example of true sportsmanship.”

Luke’s coach applauded Jake in an email to Cazenovia High School. “It was an awesome display of sportsmanship and kindness,” he wrote. “Jake deserves to be commended!!!!”

Other coaches and parents recounted that Jake spontaneously aided Luke and helped push him up the hill. “It was one of those moments that kind of makes your day,” said one parent. “Jake is a really good kid, and I’m not surprised he did it.”

Another email was sent to Cazenovia:

“Wanted to write your school to tell you how impressed I was by your XC team member today at the Auburn Invitational. He was running towards the finish when a Fairport team member passed him. The crowd was cheering for the Fairport team member due to his vision impairment. Your XC team member did not only cheer and clap for him as the student tried to run up the hill in front of him, but stopped and helped him to his feet when he slipped…wanted to commend him and his great sportsmanship he showed to his fellow competitor.”

Soon after, the story went viral and it ran around the world. Well done, Jake!

Mar 01 2018

Setting Records At 15

Few local athletes have separated themselves from the pack at such a young age as Katelyn Tuohy. She is a 15-year-old sophomore runner at North Rockland High School who performed incredibly at the Virginia Showcase during January.

A website that follows the country’s high school runners indicated that Katelyn “put the world on notice” with her performance. A video commentator at the event declared that people would remember where they were when they first heard Katelyn’s time.

Katelyn ran the indoor 5,000 meters (standard 5K) in 15 minutes 37.12 seconds. In a meet that attracted many of the country’s top prep runners, the second place runner finished more than two minutes later. Katelyn’s time broke the U.S. girls high school record and the U.S. record for girls under 20. She set a world record for 15-year-old girls.

This occurred indoors. During outdoor season last fall, Katelyn was ranked as the country’s top female cross country runner. That ranking appeared before she won the Nike Cross Nationals in Oregon with a record time for the course.

Katelyn has been running since third grade. She shrugged all of this off and indicated that her training hit sort of a speed bump this winter. She said that, with the constant snow, she frequently had to pick up a shovel.

Similar to snow, more records will fall at Katelyn’s feet in the months and years ahead. Remember that you first heard about her right here.

Mar 03 2015

A Running Example For His Students

He was all over the news last fall. New York City media covered his 100-mile run and the story even made headlines along with TV, radio and social media conversation across the country.

Dan O’Keefe is the principal of Cardinal Spellman High School in The Bronx. Before cheering students, parents, faculty, coaches, alumni and neighbors, he accomplished his goal of running 100 miles to raise funds for the school’s student sports and activities programs. He finished with time to spare, crossing the tape at 5:49 a.m. on a Saturday to complete the run in less than 24 hours.

The support was amazing. Dan raised a minimum $120,000. Post-run money continues to arrive. Some people brought food and drink to the run to provide Dan with the fuel and hydration he needed, and to feed the hundreds of fans surrounding the school’s athletic field. Some people even joined Dan, taking laps with him around the track.

As he prepared for the run, Dan challenged the students to bring in 10 sponsors at $10 each for a total of $100 per student. Their involvement was voluntary as the school never initiates mandatory fund-raising among the students. As is common at Catholic schools, fundraisers usually remain among family and close friends. But the media coverage before and during Dan’s run created a significant increase in support among the greater Spellman community and many others outside of the school.

When he first proposed the challenge, Dan admitted that the endurance run received some raised eyebrows from faculty and students. But, he knew that he was in his comfort zone. He ran cross-country for his Queens high school. He ran marathons during college and he has completed the New York City marathon. He also has finished the Vermont 100 and the New Jersey 100, battling rugged terrain in those runs compared to the modern flat track on Cardinal Spellman’ athletic field.

“I constantly challenge the students at Spellman to achieve their limits and beyond,” Dan told one newspaper. “I tell them to never let anyone say something is impossible.”

What an accomplishment. But even more, Dan is a wonderful role model for all his students.

- Jim

Dec 02 2013

A Time Managed Scholar Athlete

A high school senior in Wisconsin downplays his time-management skills to balance a challenging class schedule, athletics and music.

“If there’s an opportunity to do something, I want to do it,” said Greg Greif. “I enjoy them all so why not do them.”

One of the top academic high school seniors in the nation, Greif is involved in the application process for consideration as a National Merit Scholar Finalist. In sports, he is a runner, spending all four high school years on the varsity team. As a musician, he plays the saxophone in the school jazz band and he also plays the piano.

Other activities for Grief include math league and forensics. Even when he watches television, he takes the same time-management approach.

“I want it to be something that will be useful to me like watching the news or an educational show. Otherwise, I want to be reading, practicing the piano or studying.”

As a cross country runner, Grief has finished as high at 25th place in the state meet. On a local level, he has placed first a number of times. But, whenever he is asked about his accomplishments, the conversation quickly turns to the team’s goals.

This student athlete is interested in astrophysics and physics. Along with running and music, he seems always to be busy. A well-managed schedule, discipline to practice on and off the sports field, a can-do attitude and teamwork certainly will follow him into college and the universe beyond.