It is obvious to say that the COVID-19 Pandemic has adversely effected a large number of student-athletes during the fall of 2020. One group of students who have seen very little impact from the country’s health crisis are the members of cross country teams. Runners have found a way to continue to train and compete despite all of the changes posed by the safety measures and related protocols. One such “pandemic-proof” runner, Nick Lyndaker, has managed to continue to improve and achieve despite these challenges. Taking nothing away from Nick’s own hard work and commitment he will be the first to credit his own success to his running roots.

Roots In Running

Nick Lyndaker is the son of Jeff Lyndaker and Deb “Danehy” Lyndaker. Jeff was an outstanding high school runner during his days at Beaver River Central School. During his high school tenure Jeff’s teams raced to two state championships. He went on to race for St. Lawrence University where he finished a stellar career which can boast two All American Achievements. Deb is a member of the Canton Central School Athletics Hall of Fame and at one time held seven school records and was a nine time Section X First Team All Northern in cross country and track and field. She was also able to garner MVP honors in each cross country and track and field. Deb also went on to an outstanding running career at S.L.U. and like Jeff, finished with dual All American recognitions. Both Jeff and his Nick’s uncle Tim Danehy are two of the top track and field officials in Section X. It is clear that competing is important in Nick’s family.

Like mom and dad, running has had a huge influence on Nick’s life. Anyone who pays attention to the local running community has likely seen (or been passed by) Nick over the course of the past several years. As one might suspect from any high caliber runner, he trains on a regular basis…..all over town! He can be generally be found running with his outstanding training partner Max Finley. Max comes to the Canton program after a stellar freshman season in track and field in 2019 from merger school Hermon-Dekalb. Max and Nick shared the front runner positions throughout the entire fall. In most instances Nick would finish in first place. On the two occasions which he didn’t, teammate Max would claim the top spot.

Lyndaker (#246) and Finley (#245) battle for the lead in the final meet of 2020 at Norwood-Norfolk finishing 1st and 2nd.

It is clear that the boys have a solid relationship and having each other really allows them to train at a level which is consistently high. When asked about having Max on the team and what it means to Nick he said, “Max has been a huge part of this year for me. We did workouts together all summer, waking up early and setting ourselves up in a good spot to start the season. Every workout and race we would push each other to be faster and faster which was really helpful for meets where there was less of competition. We would switch off who was in the lead pacing the race every so often. Luckily we still have outdoor track this year and one more year together so we will hopefully be able to drop some really good times in our upcoming seasons.”

When Lyndaker was asked about his most memorable moment of this season he stated, “My favorite memory of this year was definitely our final meet. There were only a few schools left open and luckily we were on of them. That entire week all we wanted as a team was for our school to stay open and to make it to that meet. When we finally got to there it felt so good to finally have a bigger race with multiple good teams to race against. It was a great race for our whole team and even with Max Finley and I went 1-2 we lost that meet by one point. It still felt like a celebration though. We were told all season that every meet could be our last one and people like Coach (Kris) Boettcher really helped with the point of not only running fast but also having fun and enjoying every moment.”

Nick is seen here with Coach John Casserly in a photo from track sectionals in 2019.

The Justin Casserly Memorial MVP Award Winner

Nick was recognized by the coaches of Section X as the 2020 Justin Casserly Memorial Award Winner. The Section’s Most Valuable Runner Award is dedicated to the memory of Justin Casserly. Justin competed for Canton High School and was himself named Section 10 Most Valuable Runner 4 consecutive years in the late eighties. Justin loved cross country, and in 1987 finished 5th at the NY State Cross Country Championships. He was fortunate to be able to be coached by his father John Casserly who was a history teacher at Canton is one of the winningest coaches in Section X and NYS history. According to his father, “Justin was responsible for setting the tone for Canton’s future successes in the sport”. Upon graduation from Canton Justin went on to compete in the Ivy League at Brown University where he was captain of the cross-country team. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in geology and moved to Seattle where he studied at the University of Washington. Justin coached cross country and track & field at the Bill Gates Preparatory School. Unfortunately, Justin’s life ended much too early, doing one of the things he enjoyed the most when he tragically drowned during a kayak trip in Mexico. Justin’s legacy continues to set the standard for Canton Central Runners.

Nick joins a long list of Canton Central Cross Country Most Valuable Runners. Although he did take first place during the fall 2019 season and now the 2020 season, this is his first time winning the Justin Casserly Memorial Award. It will be a pleasure to watch how the brotherly battles between Nick and Max turn out during the fall 2021 season.

Justin can be seen wearing the brown track suit with the entire Casserly family at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx following a race in the late eighties.

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