Racing Against the Clock at the AYF Olympics

400 Dash Medalists (L-R) Eric Papazian & Mher Mardirosyan (PHIL), Haig Pakhchanian (WASH)


The men’s events saw much diversity with only three double winners. First was Alex Avakian from Greater Boston. Avakian won the discus with a toss of 143’6”, about 8’ shy of his record in the event. Detroit’s Sarkis Dagley and defending champion Alexan Topalian took silver and bronze. Avakian then put the shot 44’9” to beat Topalian again while Razmig Boyajian from New York was third. Finally Avakian placed third in the javelin which was won by Mark Santerian for the fifth consecutive year. Providence rookie Zach Semerjian was second in the event.  On the track, Washington’s Peter Barsamian won both the distance events. He ran 5:05.9 in the 1600 and 11:40.0 in the 3200 meter races where defending champ Anto Keshgegian was second in both events. Greater Boston took bronze in both these events with Sam Chakmakjian in the 3200 and Hampton Trout in the 1600. Keshgegian did bounce back to win the 800 in 2:19.1 finishing ahead of teammates Mher Mardirosyan and Eric Sirinian from New Jersey. The third double winner for the men was North Andover’s Armen Almasian. Almasian won the long jump easily with a distance of 20’11.75” while Worcester’s Mike Melkonian and Philly’s Paze Yeremian won the other medals. Almasian then moved to the track where he won the 100 meter dash in a time of 11.50. Eric Papazian from Philadelphia and Boston’s Vasken Kebabjian were right behind in a close finish.

Avi Keshgegian (PHIL) Pulls Away to Win the Hurdles

The host chapter dominated the other men’s track events. First Avi Keshgegian defended his hurdles crown in 18.00. Greater Boston’s Andre Kotikian and Jersey’s Viken Manjikian were close behind. Eric Papazian then ran 24.4 to win the 200 over fellow Sebouh Masis Mardirosyan with Vasken Kebabjian in third. In the 400, Masis’ brother Mher took the gold in 55.90 while Papazian won the bronze. Haig Pakhchanian from Washington took silver and was only 0.2 second off the winning time. In the other field events, Armand Keosian from North Valley was this year’s only winner from the West Coast. He defended his triple jump title with a distance of 37’11.25”. Kotikian from Boston and Mher Mardirosyan from Philly were both less than a foot behind in second and third. In the high jump, three men all jumped 5’4” so the medals were decided by the athlete with the fewest misses. Sam Chakmakjian placed first just like he did back in 2016. Last year’s winner Nareg Mkrtschjan (Prov.) and Aram Cholakian (Det.) were second and third.    

Philadelphia and Greater Boston took the top two places in both of the men’s relays. The Sebouhs won the 4×100 meter race in 46.1, while the Nejdehs took the 4×400 4:06.0. New Jersey took third place in the sprint relay while Providence did so in the 4×400.  


Anoush Krafian (BOST) 

High scorer Anoush Krafian dominated the women’s track and field events and stayed undefeated in her four years of Olympics competition. Krafian started off cruising over the hurdles in 14.70, just missing her record time of 14.68. Ani Javardian from Philadelphia and Talia Boyajian of New Jersey took silver and bronze. Krafian then recorded a 25.70 in the 200 meter dash to beat Melanie Sarafian of Detroit and Anahid Jerikian of Chicago. She finally finished her individual events with her record of 5’4” in high jump. Detroit’s Knar Topouzian and Jersey’s Grace Ezgilioglu also medaled in the event. Another Anoush from Greater Boston won double gold in the women’s distance events. Anoush Arakelian is an accomplished marathoner having run Boston, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia with a personal best time of 3:15. She won the 1600 in 5:49.9 besting Lori Berberian from Glendale and teammate Alexis Cormier. Anoush then led a Nejdeh medal sweep in the 800 with a time of 2:51.2 ahead of Cormier and Sevan Dulgarian. She settled for silver in the 400 as Knar Topouzian won in 1:09.0 and Jersey’s Talia Boyajian was third.  This was Knar’s second gold as she had already won one in the pool.

Last year, North Andover’s Meline Almasian was a high scorer, but she came up a little short in Philadelphia. She tied with her brother as the long jump champion with a leap of 16’9.5”. Lindsey Santerian was close behind at 16’2” and Anahid Jerikian was third. Almasian then leaned to beat Melanie Sarafian from Detroit in the 50 meter dash in 6.8 seconds. But Sarafian turned the tables in the 100 with a photo finish time of 13.1. Almasian’s teammate, Meline Markarian, took bronze in both sprints. The only other double winner for the women was Lindsey Santerian. After her silver in the long jump, she bounced back to win the triple jump in a record of 33’2.5”. Araz Madenlian from Orange County took silver, and Anahid Jerikian won her third bronze. Santerian also won the javelin with a toss of 87’7” which was 25’ ahead of Sena Changelian from Boston and Arev Tossounian of Detroit. Sena came back to win the baseball with a throw of 158’3” besting Talia Oknayan (Det.) and Claudia Boyajian (NJ). In the other throwing events, Jersey’s Ani Sarajian won her sixth shot put title with a distance of 28’3”. Madenlian and Detroit’s Haigan Tcholakian took the other medals. Haigan came back to beat Sarajian in the discus throwing 69’2” and Claudia Boyajian finished third.

The women’s relays were all hotly contested events. Philadelphia won the 4×100 relay in 58.7 and held off a hard charging Anoush Krafian. Krafian overtook New Jersey to grab second for the Nejdehs. A well-balanced Detroit quartet won the 4×200 relay in 2:08.6. Once again Krafian came back from a huge deficit to out lean Philly for second place. The host chapter then won the final 4×200 coed relay in 1:53.8, just ahead of three time champion Greater Boston and New Jersey.

Bob Tutunjian

Bob Tutunjian

Bob Tutunjian is president of Vivaproducts, a medical device company in Massachusetts. He has been actively involved with the AYF and the Olympics since 1967 and has written many articles covering this event.
Bob Tutunjian

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