Oneonta, Cooperstown Shine At Don Howard Invitational


Oneonta, Cooperstown Shine

At Don Howard Invitational

The winning OHS Yellowjackets are, front row from left, Erin Stalder, Ting Poon (holding trophy) and Yuliah Johnson; back row, from left, Sabrina Scianimanico, Jocelyn Turley, Jillian LaHood, Samantha Ficano, Olivia Hanbridge, Miriam Fonjweng, Randy Odago, Autumn Nealis, Oliva O’Donnell, Danielle Basdekis, Morgan Jipson. (Connie Herzig/

Editor’s Note:  With this report, Connie Herzig becomes the weekly sports columnist for, Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal.   An Oneonta resident and retired 25-year elementary phys-ed teacher at Cooperstown Elementary, she is active in the life of both communities, and expert in both sports scenes.  Send Connie news, story tips and any other inputs at

OHS’ Brad Morell won both throwing events, pushing his team into first place.  (Photo courtesy David Morell)

The 29th Annual Don Howard Track & Field Invitational last Saturday, May 4, at Cooperstown High School had an unlikely star – the sun popped through for a while on a cloudy, windless and not-rainy day.  The spring season has been cold, wet and windy for much of the young season, but perfect conditions led to many season-best performances.  The great one himself, Don Howard, was there with his wife, Doris, to cheer on the teams.

The Oneonta girls’ team won the 13-team meet with 140.5 points, while Cooperstown’s girls were nipping at their heels in second with 119.5.

The two teams battled head to head in several key events, which were highlighted by the sprints, hurdle races and the jumping events.  In the 400m relay, the Oneonta team of Erin Stalder, Morgan Jipson, Yuliah Johnson and Reece Thorsland posted a time of 53.19, almost a second better than they had previously run this season.

The Cooperstown girls, Ashley Kiuber, Ireland Gable, Samantha Vezza and Nora Jensen, were second, improving their seed time by almost a second at 53.44.  Oneonta’s 1600m relay team also won, with Staldler, Thorsland, Danielle Basdekis and Randy Odago shaving five seconds off their time.

Cooperstown’s Nora Jensen won the 100m hurdles and was second to Oneonta’s Basdekis in the 400m hurdle race. (Cheryl Clough/

Cooperstown’s Jensen had a great day in the hurdle races, winning the 100m hurdles and coming in second to Oneonta’s Basdekis in the 400m hurdle race.  Basdekis also won the 200m with teammate Johnson getting third.  Between them was Cooperstown’s freshman sprinter Gable.  Johnson also won the 100m for Oneonta.  In the 400m, Oneonta’s Stalder won the race, taking 3 seconds off her season best.  Teammate Olivia O’Donnell was third and Cooperstown’s Abby Ford was fourth.

The jumping events were real battles for the two teams, with Oneonta and Cooperstown taking most of the points in all four events.  For OHS, Jipson took second place in both the long jump and the triple jump, while Cooperstown placed third and fourth in the long, with Vezza and Kiuber, respectively.  In the triple jump, Miriam Fonjweng, Oneonta, was third, with Cooperstown’s Surya Daniel and Kiuber fourth and fifth.  The pole vault had Cooperstown’s Vezza placing second, Ariadne Hodgson, CCS, third, Annalise Grant, OHS, fourth, and Natalie Fountain, CCS, fifth.  The high jump saw Kara Gildea, CCS third, with Sarah Johnson, CCS, and Maddie Hanson, OHS, tied for fourth.

Also finishing well for Cooperstown was its trio of throwers.  In the shot put, Sarah Parr placed second with a personal best throw of 29’ 5 ¼” and Riley Jubar was third, with her own PR of 28’ 11 ¼”.  In the discus, it was Parr, third, Jubar fourth and Hannah Rathbone, fifth.    Jade Brotherton had a personal best in the 1500m, placing fifth with 5:55.94, and Tess diLorenzo ran a season best in the 3000m, placing third.

Oneonta’s Basdekis was named the Runner of the Meet and teammate Stadler took home Athlete of the Meet honors for their efforts.

On the boys’ side, the big story was Brad Morell.  The junior thrower from Oneonta led his team to a third place showing in the Invitational by sweeping both throwing events and setting the only meet record of the day.  Morell threw 160’ 0” in the discus, three feet shy of the OHS record, but breaking the 26-year-old meet record (149’ 10”) set by Brandon McEwan of Sidney in 1993.  He put the shot 3½ feet further than the second place finisher, as he posted 45’ 11 ½” to win.  For his efforts, he was named the Field Athlete of the Meet.

Kyle Rowe, and Ardell Wellman scored for Oneonta in several events.  Rowe was second in the 400m, shaving more than a second off his previous season best.  He also picked up a sixth in the 200m.  Wellman was third in the 200m, third in the triple jump and sixth in the high jump.

For Cooperstown, which placed fifth in the 13-team field, Logan Kantor, Sam Lytel and Isaiah Johnson were keys.  Kantor placed fifth in both the 110 high hurdles and the 400m hurdles and ran a leg on the third place 400m relay.  Lytel was fourth in the 400 and ran on the 1600m relay which placed third and the fourth place 3200m relay.  Johnson also ran on the 400m relay, was fourth in long jump and took second in the pole vault, with a season-best of 11’ 6”.  Also notable was Thomas Dygert’s effort of 37’ 5 ½ “ in the triple jump, an improvement on the season of over five feet.  The jump landed him a fifth place in the competition.  Full results are available at


At Cooperstown:  5/8 – Girls and Boys Varsity Track & Field vs Oriskany & Morrisville-Eaton, JV Softball vs West Canada Valley, Modified Baseball vs Little Falls, Modified Softball vs Little Falls, 5/9 – Golf vs Adirondack, JV Baseball vs Sauquoit Valley; 5/13 – Modified Softball and Baseball vs Herkimer; 5/14 – Baseball vs Clinton, Tennis vs Poland; 5/15 –Baseball vs Mt. Markham, Softball vs Mt. Markham; 5/16 – JV Baseball vs Westmoreland, JV Softball vs Poland, Modified Girls & Boys Track & Field vs Frankfort Schuyler, Mt. Markham & New York Mills

At Oneonta:  5/8 – JV Baseball and Softball vs Seton Catholic; 5/9 – Lacrosse vs Seton Catholic; 5/10 – Girls and Boys Varsity Track & Field – Oneonta Invitational, Baseball vs Susquehanna Valley, Softball vs Susquehanna Valley; 5/11 – Lacrosse vs Dryden, Baseball vs Unatego, Softball vs TBD;  5/13 – Girls and Boys Varsity Track & Field vs Morris, Unatego, Chenango Valley, Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton & Sidney, JV Baseball & Softball vs. Windsor; 5/14 – JV Softball vs Norwich; 5/15 – Jr. High Girls & Boys Track vs Unatego, Norwich; 5/16 – Jr. High Lacrosse vs Chenango Valley

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