Bad Choice Costs Coach Some Respect

The Record
May 2000
Good people can make bad decisions and a good guy and a good coach, Scott Copperman, made a bad decision Thursday night at the Passaic County Championships, which infuriated a lot of coaches and athletes.

Copperman, whose West Milford boys team was in a tight battle with Wayne Valley for the team title, chose not to seed any of his athletes in the 800-meter run, which by rule, forced them into the unseeded heat.

But that unseeded heat would give his relay team and star anchor Dave Heerema, a sub-2-minute 800 runner, an extra 10-15 minutes before running the 1,600 relay, which might have been the decisive event.

Heerema, therefore, was forced to run by himself in the unseeded 800 and he ran beautifully, a school record 1:55.1, and a time beaten by only seven runners in County history.

But one of those seven was Wayne Valley's Matt Winkler and there were four other sub-2-minute 800 runners in the seeded field, as well, which is where Heerema belonged.

Winkler won the race in 1:54.3, a second off his personal best and at least four other runners in the race ran personal bests. And Wayne Valley did win the team title, with West Milford winning the 1,600 relay.

But Copperman lost a lot of respect and admiration from his fellow coaches, who rightfully called the ploy "bush league."

Copperman has done a lot of good for track and field in the area during his three years as West Milford's head coach, and he'll do a lot more before he's through. But his move Thursday night resulted in a great 800-meter race turning into just a very good


A good decision, conversely was made at the same meet by Passaic County meet director Lou Fraulo and site director Ray Riker when they suspended the meet just before a fierce thunderstorm struck the Wayne Hills site.

The meet was called in enough time to get all the athletes out of the stands and into safe shelter before the storm hit, and a decision whether to cancel was delayed long enough for the weather to clear and the meet to be completed.

As a result, Passaic County kids won't have to run an extra meet before next week's sectionals.

The only event that wasn't completed was the boys high jump, in which Passaic jumpers Brian Bohannon and Tariq Stevens will meet to decide the winner today at 3:30 at Clifton. Both jumpers have cleared 6-1.

AN IMPORTANT MEETING -- The seeding meeting for the annual Lou Lanzalotto Bergen Meet of Champions will be held 8 p.m. Thursday at Ramsey High School.

Coaches are reminded that if they do not send a representative to the meeting to declare that they are competing if selected, their athletes will be unable to run.

The meet is scheduled for May 30 at Hackensack High School. The four group winners in this weekend's Gene Littler Bergen County group championships will automatically qualify along with 14 to 20 wild card entries that meet standards set by a committee that includes Mike Urso of River Dell, Bob Brady of Hasbrouck Heights, and Dave Ascuito of Pascack Valley.

The Passaic County All-County meeting is March 25 at 7 p.m. at Clifton High School.

OTHER RESULTS -- Glen Rock's outstanding distance medley team of Danielle Patoir, Kim Mineo, Leah Jerome, and Erin Henry, ran one of the fastest distance medley relays in Bergen County history recently at the Monroe-Woodbury Relays.

The quartet, three of whom were on the team that won a dramatic battle over Ramsey at the Jack Yockers Bergen County Relays, ran 12:45.5, the 13th fastest time in county history and the fourth fastest non-Ridgewood time.

And the exciting thing is that the quartet are all underclassmen, with Patoir a freshman and Henry a sophomore. The Glen Rock coaching staff is pointing toward the Penn Relays next year as a possible goal for the talented foursome.

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