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Bret Watzka Bret Watzka
Inducted: 2004 - Graduated: 1976

With a mop of curly brown locks, a gunslinger’s bravado

and the ability to back it up, BretWatzka dashed his way to

Golden Knight fame on the cross country trails and on the

track oval.

Bret is the only male Nanuet athlete to win an individual

state cross-country championship, capturing the Class B

crown on a sodden course in Buffalo his senior year, the

fall of 1975.After running in the shadow of teammate John

McNulty the previous year, Bret established himself as the

man to beat in ’75, winning his division of the St. John’s

Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park, finishing runner-up in

theManhattan Invitational, and scoring a convincing victory

at the Rockland County championships.

With his flowing mane of hair, beaded string necklace and

carefree running style, Bret was viewed by opponents as a

bon vivantwho loved to have a good time – at the expense of

his subdued foes, that is. But after finishing a well-beaten

fourth in the Section 9 Class B meet, Bret’s trademark confidence

was shaken badly. Now he would have to expunge that memory quickly, regroup and rechannel his focus to

the State Intersectional meet the following week. Could he

do it?

Lightning, thunder and a soaking rain threatened to delay

the start of the Class B race at Elma Meadows golf course

in Buffalo on that gray Saturday inNovember 1975. While

the rain persisted, however, the lightning abated enough to

get the race under way. Bret bolted immediately toward the

front of the pack and never looked back. He finished so

fast that the meet photographer missed him crossing the

finish line, and had to stage a "do-over" shot later on.

Bret could have excelled at any sport he chose. He was a

star righty pitcher and infielder in youth baseball, once striking

out all 18 batters he faced in a 2-0 Cubs’ victory over the

Pirates in the Nanuet Little League. He posted a solid 6-3

record for the Nanuet baseball varsity as a sophomore

before devoting his talents fully to running.

In his junior-year cross country season, Bret was tabbed “the surprise runner of the year” by The Journal-News, and

CoachDaveHanson called himthe key toNanuet’s success.

Running close behind established No. 1 man McNulty,

Bret finished third in the Section 9 meet, ninth in the New

York State Intersectionals and eighth in the inauguralNew

York State Federation championships, helping the Golden

Knights win that meet, which brings together all of the best

teams in the state regardless of class size.

Bret’s track accomplishments were similarly impressive.

In winter track, he finished third in the New York State

championships in both the two-mile run and as a leg on

Nanuet’s two-mile relay in his junior year. He was a twotime

Rockland County champ in the two mile; won county

titles in the mile and two-mile relay; was Section 9 two-mile

champ and mile runner-up his senior year; and won

Section 9 State Qualifier titles in the two mile and two-mile

relay. Bret’s indoor track two-mile time of 9:19.8 ranks

fifth on the all-time Rockland list, and he ran on a Nanuet

two-mile relay that ranks No. 3 all-time in county winter

track annals (8:00.2).

In the 1976 spring track season, Bret swept the mile and

two-mile titles in both the Rockland County and Section 9

Class B championships, and won the Section 9 State

Qualifier two mile. At the Eastern States Championships,

he placed second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9:29.0,

which ranks No. 2 on the all-time Rockland list in that

event. He also won the mile and two mile in the Section 9

meet his junior year.

Bret was honored as a Black and Gold Club scholarship

recipient in 1976, joining Tony Harlin and

Joanne Little as honorees that year.

Bret continued his running success in college,

first at Community College of Allegheny County

in Pittsburgh. At Allegheny, he was a junior college All-

America in cross country once and in the marathon

twice, and helped lead Allegheny to the junior college

national championship his freshman year. Bret later

transferred to St. John’s University, where he was

crowned 10,000-meter run champion at the inaugural

Big East Conference championships in 1980.

Bret continued to run competitively for the next

decade, performing well in local and area races, before

turning his athletic pursuits to golf. He has won or finished among the top few in numerous local tournaments and is

one of the top amateur players in the county.

Bret works as an insurance investigator and lives in

Nanuet with his wife, Ingrid, and daughters Brittany, 10,

and Johanna, 8.