This year’s Team of Distinction is Hamburg High School’s 1962, 1963 and 1964 Boy’s Cross Country Teams. These teams were undefeated Division I Champions over three autumn seasons, compiling an impressive dual meet log of 32-0. This was a new record for the Erie County Interscholastic Conference founded in 1954-1955. These ECIC Championships were Hamburg’s 5th, 6th and 7th titles since 1954. The cross country teams during these years faced great competition at the start of their season. Strong competition in the Buffalo State Invitational brought teams from Section V, Section VI and beyond. The 1962 team finished in 2nd Place, 2 points behind the winning team. “Best showing ever out of 33 teams,” Coach Foster stated. The 1963 squad duplicated the 2nd Place finish against 31 teams. In 1964 the entries increased to 40 teams with Hamburg finishing in 2nd Place again. Definitely a signal of things to come. After the ECIC dual meet season ended, the ECIC Divisional Meets were held at Chestnut Ridge Park at the Casino. The championship races were run on a challenging course starting downhill into the meadow, running uphill to the toboggan chutes, along the roadway at the Casino to Benning Loop. Runners retraced the route back to the finish line. In Division I, “The 1962 Team ran in a “pack” to finish with a :12 second spread between runners 1-5 … Excellent work!” was Coach Foster’s reply after winning the championship. Ralph Kelly and Ray Sprickman made the ECIC All-Star Team to lead the squad. The 1963 Team also captured the Division I Championship, but encountered hazards! The prolonged, exceptionally dry autumn left training surfaces hard as rock causing more than eight runners to suffer leg, shin, ankle and broken bone injuries. ‘The squad achieved greatly because of team depth,” stated Foster. Thomas Hoffman, team captain, led this tenacious team while gaining ECIC All-Star status. The teams grew in size, talent and experience. The 1964 Team rolled onward to capture the ECIC 1962 Division I Championship for a third consecutive year, conquering teams, race courses and titles. The Bulldog’s placed Chris Hart, Edd Webster and Bruce Cook on the ECIC All-Star Team.
Foster’s teams grew in size. The 1959 Team had 27 runners. The 1962, 1963 and 1964 teams had 33, 47 and 49 runners respectively. This makes a total of 129 runners for Foster’s last three seasons.
Sectional Championships were the gold standard. Since 1950 to 1959 Hamburg had won 8 Sectional Championships. The 1962 Team lost a pre-season scrimmage to Kenmore East, defending Class MA Champion. The Hamburg harriers returned the favor and defeated Kenmore at Chestnut Ridge to capture Hamburg’s first Class AAA Championship. Leg, ankle, shin and bone injuries prevented the 1963 Harriers from defending yet finished in 3rd Place. The 1964 Bulldogs returned with great desire and won the Class AAA Championship, 10th Hamburg Sectional title and 5th Place at the State Meet in Baldwinsville, NY. “Best team exceeding 1962 Team, Best team in WNY, a top team in New York State.” – J. Foster