The next once-in-a-generation athlete could be right around the corner

The 2010-2011 high school sports season officially came to an end last weekend at the New York State Track and Field Championships. The closing efforts of seniors Chad Noelle of Greene, and the Woodford twins of Oxford – Katie and Emily – brought back memories of other “once-in-a-generation” track and field athletes.

It was in the spring of 2000 that Norwich senior Katie Almeter capped a brilliant record-breaking career winning the Division II state title in the 400-meter dash. Almeter became the first Norwich girl to ever win an individual state title. A year later, teammate Karen Snyder became the second NHS lady to win an individual state title.

To that point in my sportswriting career, I had not encountered such a prodigious athletic performance in the spring, and I wasn’t sure if I would see the likes of Katie Almeter – or Karen Snyder – any time soon.

In 2001, the same year Snyder won a state title, Oxford senior Mike Chrystie made the switch from baseball to track and field. Chrystie’s exploits as a football player earned him numerous school and Section IV records. We knew he was fast, but how fast?

That spring season, training without an actual track, Chrystie had was the epitome of a one-year wonder. His dynamic speed on the football field indeed translated to a track. Whenever possible, Chrystie, the Oxford team, and head coach Irene DeJager shuttled to the nearest track to practice. Most of the time, Chrystie was working on his start, his form, and his conditioning on the all-purpose grass athletic fields at Oxford Academy.

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