New York City Marathon Canceled? Alums “Run Anyway”
Henry Johnson ’88 was planning to run the New York City Marathon this year as a way to raise money for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). The gesture also was a nod to his wife, Susan Imbriani Johnson ’87, who was treated successfully at MSKCC several years earlier. But after Hurricane Sandy hit New York City with a devastating force that left parts of the town submerged and darkened, Mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled the marathon on the Friday before the event.
“Like everyone else, I found myself late Friday and early Saturday both disappointed and unsure of what to do next,” Johnson says, but “as Saturday wore on, a nagging idea kept bouncing around in my head: ‘run anyway.’”
After all, his friends had generously pledged more than $30,000 to the cancer center and he had been training for months. He was ready.
Overnight on Saturday, the idea of a “Shadow Marathon” began to go viral on social media and Johnson thought, why not? (He would later learn that Vassar grad Laura Sackler Tancredi ’95 was part of a group that conceived the “Run Anyway” campaign. Joe Coplin ’88 and Liz Greenstein ’87 also joined the ranks of the runners.)
On Sunday morning, Johnson joined more than 10,000 other runners in Central Park and ran 26.2 miles, following the course of the original marathon.
“It was incredible,” he recalls. “Thousands of fans cheering, spontaneous water stops set up by spectators and street vendors—even the weather was perfect. I was able to see Susan and the boys four times, and all three of my sons ran the last quarter mile with me—something they never could have done in the real marathon.”
While everything about it was “unofficial,” Johnson says, “For me, it was everything I had hoped my marathon would be. Honestly, it may have even been better than the real thing.”
Senior forward Dante Varotsis scored two goals as Vassar clinched the top seed in the Liberty League Championships by defeating Bard 6-0 on Oct. 27. The team finished with a 5-1-2 record in the league—its best showing ever. Three days earlier, sophomore Tom Weichert scored the game-winning goal with 10 seconds left in the first overtime period, as Vassar defeated Union 2-1 in a thrilling Liberty League match at Gordon Field. The Brewers defeated Hunter 2-0 on Oct. 21. Varotsis and Juliano Pereira scored the goals. Earlier, the team tied Liberty League rival RIT 1-1. Zander Mrlik’s goal on a corner kick from Jordan Palmer accounted for the only goal. Vassar outshot RIT 7-2.
A week after clinching a spot in the Liberty League Championships, the team closed out its regular season with a pair of straight-set victories over Farmingdale State and Misericordia on Oct. 27. Jessie Ditmore and Clara Cardillo had eight kills each, and Hilary Koenigs had 20 set assists. The Brewers finished the regular season with a record of 20-10. They lost a five-set non-league match to SUNY New Paltz on Oct. 23. The league championships begin Nov. 2. On Oct. 20, the Brewers dropped a 3-2 decision to Transylvania and lost 3-0 to Elmhurst College at the Elmhurst Invitational in Elmhurst, Ill. They opened the tourney with a four-set loss to Haverford before defeating North Park University in straight sets. Earlier, the Brewers captured a thrilling five-set win against Liberty League rival Bard. Chloe McGuire and Cardillo had 11 kills each, and Koenigs had 40 set assists. The team is 8-4 in the Liberty League.
The team fell to 3-4 in the Liberty League and 8-6 overall with 1-0 losses to
RIT and Skidmore and a 4-1 loss to William Smith. Earlier, Chloe Wheeler scored her eighth goal of the season in a 2-0 win over Bard.
Women’s Cross Country
Audrey Piepmeier and Kelly Holmes paced the Brewers in two recent meets. On
Oct. 13, Piepmeier finished second overall and Holmes was fourth at the Seven Sisters Championships in Wellesley, Mass. Vassar was second in team scoring. Earlier, Holmes was second and Piepmeier fourth at the Saratoga Invitational. The team’s combined top-five scores were the fastest in Vassar history. The team finished fourth in a field of 12.
Men’s Cross Country
The team finished 12th in a field of 22 at the Connecticut College Invitational. Freshman Jonah Williams was the top Vassar runner, finishing 25th in a field of 233. Three of the top-five Vassar runners did not compete because of illness or injury. A full squad is expected for the Liberty League Championships on Oct. 27 at SUNY Potsdam. On Oct. 6, Vassar was third in the 16-team Saratoga Invitational. Sam Wagner was eighth overall and Williams was 16th.
The team improved its record to 6-0 with a 31-14 win over Stony Brook. Akeel St. Vil, Jehan Shams, and Ian Ruginski were top scorers.
Vassar lost to Marist 29-20 on Oct. 21 and fell to SUNY Binghamton 27-15 on Oct. 13 after thrashing SUNY New Paltz 53-0 on Oct. 6 and Stony Brook 58-10 on Sept. 30. The team’s record is 3-3-1. Vassar will host the Tri-State League tournament on Nov. 11.
The Men’s Double team earned a medal as the fastest undergraduate boat in its race at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston on Oct. 20. The men’s four crew—Marchetta, Sullivan, Jacob Dempsey, Jay Mayur, and coxswain Frank Hoffman—finished 39th in their event. On Oct. 6, the crew captured a third place and a fifth place finish at the Head of the Housatonic Regatta on Oct. 6.
The Women’s Four team of Mary Claire Walker, Ji Kim, Carolina Gustafson, Ari Skoulos, and coxswain Maya Grunfield finished in the top half of their field in their event at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston on Oct. 20.
The Vassar crew finished eighth in a field of nine on Oct. 6 at the Head of the Housatonic Regatta in Shelton, Conn.
On Oct. 12, Hannah Van Demark advanced to the finals of a New York State Division III Championships before losing to Skidmore’s Caroline Hobbs 6-4, 6-1. Lauren Staufer lost in the semis to Skidmore’s Robin Baird 6-2, 6-4. On Oct. 11, Ava Sadeghi and Samantha Schapiro finished sixth in a doubles competition at the ITA Small College Championships in Mobile, Ala. Sadeghi was eighth in singles.
The squad defeated Union and Bard in two matches on Oct. 6 by identical 9-0 scores. Josh Kessler and Christian Phelps had the most lopsided victories—6-1, 6-0. The matches concluded the fall season. The spring season begins Feb. 23 vs. Skidmore.
The team’s record fell to 7-5 after a 5-3 loss on Oct. 12 to SUNY New Paltz. Earlier, the Brewers beat Kean 3-1 and Elms 6-0. Anna Schroeder, Lauren Wiebe, and Rebecca Smith starred on offense and Maggie Brells was stellar in goal.
Vassar finished third in an eight-team field on Oct. 14 at the Ann Batchelder Invitational in Wellesley, Mass. Celynne Balabat shot a 77-86-163 to pace Vassar and wind up the all schedule. On Oct. 7, the team finished eighth in a field of 14 at the Williams College Invitational. Freshmen Aimee Dubois and Angela Mental paced the Brewers.
The Burgundy beat the Gray 39-22 on Oct. 12 in the team’s annual 50-inning intrasquad game to raise funds for the spring training trip to Florida. Senior Miles Perrone went 13 for 20 for the Burgundy with two home runs. Cory Wuenschell had nine hits and A.J. Kim had seven for the Gray.
--Compiled by Larry Hertz
Images courtesy of Vassar Athletics.