By Jamie Kempton
The Rockland County Track & Field Hall of Fame will enshrine nine new members during its 13th induction ceremony on Saturday, May 19, beginning 1 p.m., at the Paramount Country Club in New City.
The class of 2019 includes a quartet of two-time state champions: sprinter Roudy Monrose of Spring Valley and distance runners John Martinez of North Rockland and Brendan Fennell and Erin Demchko of Pearl River. Also on the roster are a pair of highly successful coaches, Joe Biddy of Suffern and Ray Kondracki of Clarkstown South; the 1974 Albertus Magnus “Long Red Line” cross country team; the 1970 Clarkstown sprint medley relay; and the 2001-03 Suffern girls’ 4×200-meter relay.
“This year’s lineup of inductees is extra special because, in addition to our usual gallery of individual stars and outstanding coaches, we are recognizing our first relay units and team,” said Chairman Jamie Kempton. “This expansion helps showcase the full dimensions of the sports of track & field and cross country in Rockland County.”
Fennell, class of 2003, won state Class C cross country titles as a sophomore and junior, set Rockland records for the Van Cortlandt Park 2.5-mile and 5K courses, and was selected Rockland XC Runner of the Decade. In track, he won a state Federation crown at 1,600 meters and ranks No. 4 all-time in Rockland in the mile (4:11.94). He later starred at American University.
Monrose, class of 1997, captured state championships in the outdoor 400 meters as a sophomore and indoor 300 meters as a junior. He set five County records, two of which still stand: the 300 meters (34.61) and 300 yards (31.4). As an open runner, he competed for Haiti in the 200 meters at the 2011 World Championships.
Martinez, class of 2005, claimed the U.S. Junior National championship in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in a Rockland record 9:06.60. He was also state indoor Federation titleholder at 3,200 meters, and Rockland’s first male All-America scholastic cross country harrier. Martinez was a two-time NCAA All-America steeplechaser at North Carolina State.
Demchko excelled at the 2,000-meter steeplechase, winning state Division II and Class B championships and placing fourth, second and third in successive national outdoor championships. At the Naval Academy, she lettered all 12 seasons and now competes for the All-Marine running team. She is a major in the U.S. Marine Corps.
During a 49-year coaching career at Suffern, Biddy earned a state-record 762 cross country victories and two state Class A titles. In cross country and indoor track combined, his teams won 53 Rockland County championships and 41 Sectional crowns, and he was chosen Rockland Coach of the Year 49 times.
Kondracki is retiring this year after 35 years at the helm of Clarkstown South. He led the Vikings track teams to 11 Rockland County titles, 10 Section 1 flags and 14 League banners. He coached 11 state and nine national champions and was awarded Coach of the Year honors 14 times.
The Albertus Long Red Line won the Rockland, Section 9 and New York State Class B, and Eastern States championships, with record scores and victory margins in the County and State meets. Coached by Dick Weis, they ranked No. 2 in the U.S. based on time in a season-ending two-mile track run.
The Clarkstown sprint medley relay was Rockland’s first state relay champion. Coached by Joe D’Innocenzo, they emerged victorious out of the unseeded section and clocked 3:40.5, equaling the County record. Tom Vanderbilt, Mike Fries, Bob Demcio and Mike Meehan ran on the relay.
Suffern’s girls’ 4×200-meter relay won the state and Federation titles three straight years, 2001 to 2003, and also captured the 2002 Eastern States. Coached by Joe Biddy, they won 23 meets over a three-year span and their best time of 1:42.18 ranks No. 4 all-time in Rockland.
Tickets for the dinner are $65 at the door and $25 for children 12 or younger. For ticket information, contact Bill Dailey at 845-323-0976 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the hall of fame’s website at www.rctfhalloffame.org.