Capital Region Track, Field and Cross Country Hall of Fame names inductees

ALBANY – With dozens of gold medals among them, as well as state and national records, the second class of inductees into the Greater Capital Region Track, Field and Cross Country Hall of Fame features the area’s first four-minute miler, a highly accomplished road racer and two ladies who thrived in pentathlon and heptathlon competition.

The new group of 11 to be inducted Sept. 21 at the Albany Marriott on Wolf Road also includes two legendary coaches — Ed Springstead of Shaker, who has more than 60 years of coaching under his belt, and the late Cliff Lehman, who put together a phenomenal record at Christian Brothers Academy.

The first runner from the Capital Region to break four minutes in the mile was Barry Brown, a Colonie High School and Providence College product who competed in the Olympic Trials in the steeplechase and later set American masters records in several events. Another runner who made his mark as a masters champion was Tom Dalton, a 1981 Siena graduate and dominating figure in area road racing.

Road racers were considered for Hall of Fame induction for the first time this year.

Like Brown, Vince McArdle of Vincentian Institute in Albany was a star of more than 50 years ago. He finished second in the NCAA championships 400-meter hurdles while at Manhattan and reached the finals of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Heidi Mann Vittengl is a versatile athlete from Queensbury and the University of Florida who not only smashed state and national records in multi-events, but also competed for 10 years on a professional golf circuit. Another multi-talented woman, Jen Petersen Jette of Fonda, capitalized on her talent in the high jump and hurdles to become a national-class pentathlete. She later excelled as a coach, too.

Liz Maloy DeBole parlayed a state championships achieved at Holy Names and a stellar career at Georgetown into a run at an Olympic berth, finishing seventh in the 5,000-meter finals at the 2012 U.S. Trials. They still talk about Gary Connor’s amazing run over the Sunken Meadows course on Long Island in the 1968 State Cross Country Championships, his second of two golds in the meet as he dominated distance running for Niskayuna in the late 1960s.

And two girls with the biggest gold medal haul from state meets were Sarah Palmer of Schuylerville and Klarissa Ricks of Holy Names. Palmer, who jumped 5-9 ¼, won the state outdoor meet high jump a remarkable five years in a row and added two indoor titles. Ricks won the state meet 60-meter dash title indoors as a freshman and never stopped, adding wins in the 100-meter dash, 400-meter relay and long jump outdoors. She jumped nearly 20 feet.

They join an outstanding cast from the inaugural class in 2018 that featured six Olympians (Andy Bloom, Tracy Baskin, Diana Richburg, Aliann Pompey, Tim Lewis and Rudy Winkler), as well as Section 2, state and national record breakers.

The 2019 inductees into the Greater Capital Regional Track, Field and Cross Country Hall of Fame:

Barry Brown

(Colonie ’62, Providence ’66)

— First runner from the Capital Region to break the four-minute mile, running 3:58.86 in 1973. Competed on 23 U.S. National Teams and qualified for the Olympic Trials three times.

— Established 12 USA age-group records, including American Masters records at 10,000 meters, the half marathon and marathon.

— Multiple winner of USATF Masters Runner of the Year and Roadrunners Club of America Masters Roadrunner of the Year titles.

Gary Connor

(Niskayuna ’69)

— Two-time state high school Class A cross country champion. Won the 1968 race by a record 33 seconds.

— Three-time Section 2 Class A Cross Country champion who set nine course records in his career.

— When he ran 9:24.9 for a full two miles on a cinder track in 1969, it ranked second on the all-time Section 2 list.

Tom Dalton

(CBA Syracuse ’76, Siena College ’81)

— Undefeated in dual meets and invitationals during three years of cross country at Siena College.

— Five-time USATF Masters Cross Country Runner of the Year.

— Champion, Albany Corporate Challenge (14 times), Schenectady Stockade-a-thon (7 times), Troy Turkey Trot (8 times). Record holder in Turkey Trot for 10,000 meters.

Cliff Lehman

(CBA ’56, New Hampshire ’60)

— Coached Christian Brothers Academy of Albany for 34 years with a dual meet record of 317-29-1. He compiled 184 invitational and championship meet wins.

— Coached 60-foot shot putters in four decades and had a 50-foot thrower for 30 consecutive years.

— Honored as Region 1 Coach of the Year by the National Federation of High School Coaches.

Elizabeth Maloy DeBole

(Holy Names ’03, Georgetown ’07)

— Won state high school championships in cross country, indoor and outdoor track, setting sectional records in the 1,000 indoors and 1,500 outdoors.

— Finished seventh in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials 5,000.

— Currently head coach of cross country and assistant track coach at Stanford University, where she has been named NCAA West Region Coach of the Year in both cross country (2016) and indoor track (2017).

Heidi Mann Vittengl

(Queensbury ’82, University of Florida ’87)

— Set a national high school record in the heptathlon and state records in both the pentathlon and heptathlon. Her then state heptathlon mark of 4,953 points has only been surpassed once in 38 years.

— Won consecutive state championships in the pentathlon and captured the TAC Junior National Championships heptathlon while in high school. While competing for Florida, she became the first woman to win the Penn Relays heptathlon three years in a row.

— Inducted into both the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Empire State Games Halls of Fame following a diverse athletic career that included 10 years on a professional golf tour.

Vince McArdle

(Vincentian ’60, Manhattan ’64)

— A solid high jumper and long jumper at Vincentian Institute before blossoming as a sprinter and 440-yard hurdler at Manhattan.

— Ran a number of 46-point 440-yard relay legs, set a field house record in an indoor meet at Navy with a 1:11.0 for 600 yards, and dominated outdoor meets in the 440-yard hurdles as a senior. He was runner-up in the NCAA Championships and finished eighth in the 1964 Olympic Trials with a career-best 50.7.

— The All-American received the Metropolitan Coaches Association Founder’s Award as the top college athlete in the New York City area.

Sarah Palmer

(Schuylerville ’11, Penn State ’15)

— Won five consecutive state high school outdoor high jump championships, sits second on the all-time area list with a best of 5-9 ¼ and broke the state freshman record with a 5-8 1/2.

— Indoors, she won two state federation titles, the Eastern States Championship and was a three-time All-American.

— Helped Penn State win three Big Ten team titles and was a finalist six times, indoors and out, in the conference high jump championships.

Jen Petersen Jette

(Colonie ’93, Michigan ’97)

— Ranks high on the all-time Section II outdoor lists in the 100-meter hurdles (14.3), high jump (5-9) and pentathlon (3,397), with a state title in the latter.

— A state indoor high jump champion who went on to place third at the indoor nationals in the pentathlon. Still holds the all-time area indoor pentathlon mark of 3,393 and ranks high on the lists in the 50-meter hurdles (7.5), 55-meter hurdles (8.1) and high jump (5-8).

— After a Big Ten career at Michigan, took up coaching at Colonie, where she compiled a dual meet record of 89-9 and coached two All-Americans and a state champion.

Klarissa Ricks

(Holy Names, ’11, Syracuse ’15)

— Burst onto the scene with a state freshman class record of 7.58 for the 60-meter dash in the indoor nationals after winning her first of two state meet titles. Holds all-time area indoor bests in the 45 (6.11) and 55 (6.95) and sits second on the long jump list (18-11 ¾)

— Won the Penn Relays Championship of America long jump to kick off a senior year outdoors that included three gold medals at the state meet in the 100, long jump and 4 x 100 relay. Her 11.93 in the 100 stood as the all-time area best until this spring, and her 19-10 ¾ in the long jump continues to rank second.

— After initially attending Columbia, transferred to Syracuse and competed for two years with a long jump best of 19-3.

Ed Springstead

(Brockport State)

— Has coached cross country and track for more than 60 years, winning state cross country championships at Colonie in 1962 and at Shaker in 2010. The latter team also won the state federation title and competed in the Nike Cross Nationals.

— Has coached numerous individuals and teams to Section 2 championships. Among his outstanding athletes was Barry Brown, who became a world-class competitor in the steeplechase and marathon.

— Served as the Section 2 boys’ cross country coordinator for many years. An early fall season meet, the Ed Springstead Invitational, has been named in his honor.


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