V845 Notebook: Overcoming illness, achieving a dream and beating the clock

Outrunning illness

After the 3,000-meter race at the state qualifying meet Saturday at West Point, Middletown’s Dana Lynch looked visibly exhausted. Granted, running 3,000 meters will do that to a runner, but Lynch appeared especially fatigued, almost as if she was in pain.

I spoke with her distance coach, George Shurder, after the race (Lynch finished second to Cornwall’s Karrie Baloga to qualify for the state meet). He said Lynch was sick with the flu all week and didn’t know until the day before if she would be able to compete.

“We were hoping she would just will it, and she did,” Shurder said.

‘Dream come true’

At Friday’s state qualifier, I wrote about Cornwall senior Alicia Porter and Wallkill sophomore Louis Martinez. Below is a full response from my interview with Martinez on what qualifying for the state meet meant to him.

“I got stuck at 12-6 throughout the year,” Martinez said, “and three meets before this one, I hit 13 feet for the first time, so qualifying for states, it’s probably the greatest feeling I’ve had in my life so far. I’ve never felt anything like it. It’s insane. I have no words to describe it. I’m the first sophomore out of Wallkill (in pole vault) to go to states, I’m jumping a lot higher than everyone thought I would, so it’s really a dream come true for me.”

‘Best day ever’

Five days before the SUNY New Paltz women’s basketball team won the SUNY Athletic Conference championship, erasing a 13-point fourth quarter deficit to stun SUNY Geneseo, I sat down with a few of the players to talk about the significance of this postseason. Junior guard Marion Dietz talked about last season’s ending, a conference tournament semifinal loss to Geneseo, as a “terrible weekend.”

But, she said the team wasn’t feeling pressure to perform well in this year’s playoffs, despite three seniors wanting to finish their basketball careers on the best footing possible.

“I wouldn’t say it’s pressure,” Dietz said. “It’s more like an opportunity. We have an opportunity to give back to these seniors.”

While Dietz would make some key plays, including a 3-pointer to start the second half, it was the three seniors, Lindsay Bettke, Rachel Simon and Taylor Howell who played significant roles in the comeback victory. Each one stood out at different points in the game. Howell made a couple momentum-shifting defensive plays in the second quarter, Simon engineered the shocking fourth-quarter comeback with clutch 3-pointers and do-or-die free throws and Bettke outscored everyone in overtime.

Head coach Jamie Seward said after the game that he would prefer if both conference tournament games weren’t as close as they were — the Hawks edged out College at Brockport on Friday by three points and then followed it up the next day with a 63-57 overtime win over Geneseo — but admitted it can only help his team moving forward.

“I think we can say it helps playing those types of games going into the NCAA tournament, but while it’s going on, that’s certainly not how you feel.”

Simon said she lives for the moments late in the game when everyone is counting on her to make off balance 3-pointers and knock down free throws. Sometimes, she doesn’t wait until the end of the game to pull off the dramatic. In the Hawks’ first possession Saturday, Simon hit a turnaround jumper as the shot clock expired.

“Best day ever,” Simon said postgame.

Best sports journalism of the week

Chris Carlson for The Post-Standard on Jim Boeheim after a fatal car accident.

Ben Reiter for Sports Illustrated profiles data-obsessed pitcher Trevor Bauer.

Joe Rexrode for The Tennessean charts Trent Dilfer’s journey from Super Bowl winning quarterback to high school football coach.

Bob Kravitz for The Athletic on Trent Richardson’s redemption story.

Mirin Fader for Bleacher Report profiles Celtics guard Marcus Smart.

Vic Tafur for The Athletic writes about an NFL agent breaking barriers.

Zach Lowe for ESPN chronicles the path of the Bucks’ second star, Khris Middleton.

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