CHENANGO FORKS, N.Y.— Mike Lacko was a member of the only Somers boys’ cross country team to bring home a state title back in 2004.
Twelve years later he was coaching the Tuskers up at the New York State Championships.
While the Tuskers didn’t capture a state title, they still put forth an admirable performance, placing third in Class B with 95 points on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Chenango Valley State Park near Binghamton.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake ran away with the team title with 53 points. Pittsford-Mendon was second with 91 points.
“The team left it all out there on Saturday. I was very happy with how they all ran,” Lacko said. “Class B in New York State is very hard and to be third and miss second by four points is amazing. We would like to have won but everyone did their best and that’s what matters most. I am so proud of this team and how much we fought this year. This year’s team is a very special group of young men who I will never forget and who I hold close to my heart. I mean I see these kids 365 days out of the year they’re like my own kids. Somers cross country is one big family.”
Junior Matt Fusco paced the Tuskers with a 16th-place finish in a time of 16:21.10 in a race that featured 127 of the best harriers New York State offers.
Matt’s twin brother Greg Fusco placed 32nd in a clocking of 16:41.80.
“The Fusco brothers have done an amazing job all year and both of them are truly the MVPs of this team,” Lacko said. “Without them we would not have gotten to states.”
Michael Panzarino (46th, 16:56), Nico Papalia (66th, 17:17.30) and Mark Worsley (68th, 17:20) rounded out the top five for a Tusker team that averaged a time of 16:55.
“Without those three guys we wouldn’t have been third or even close to second,” Lacko said.
Thomas Hannon was 70th in 17:23.10 and Nico Ferro placed 121st.
The Fusco brothers have led the Tuskers all season, but Lacko is first to point out how important the rest of the Tuskers are when it comes to making the team well rounded and place high as a squad.
“You need seven guys to win, and the addition of Michael Panzarino was awesome this year,” Lacko said. “We wish he came out three years ago but that’s the past. Michael really stepped up this season and was one of the best number three runners in the state. Mark Worsley and Thomas Hannon had huge season’s this year and stepped up when it counted.”
Worsley and Hannon clocked huge personal bests at the state meet.
“Both Mark and Thomas have been on varsity since their freshman year,” Lacko said. “Having them on the team matters the most because of how experienced they are.”
Papalia suffered a broken femur last spring and was told by his doctor that he may never run again. He defied those odds and then some.
Lacko added that seeing Ferro compete at states made his season.
“He is a hardworking young man and will have a huge track season for us,” he said.
Somers will compete in the Federation meet on Nov. 19 at Wappingers Falls’ Bowdoin Park.
“To compete at the Federation championships is a big deal,” Lacko said. “It is only the third time in school history we have been to this meet — 2004 and 2005 were the only two other times. To be in this race is an honor. You go up against all the best of the best in New York State including the best Catholic schools, private schools and then the best city schools. Our goal for this weekend is to be in the mix and finish as high as possible. I really think we have a big chance to make some noise in this meet.”