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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 20, 2011

Guilderland, BKW, and V’ville cross-country teams run with the best

By Jordan J. Michael

Dual meets are nice, but the real way to gauge a cross-country team is through invitationals. Berne-Knox-Westerlo, Guilderland, and Voorheesville have run plenty of meaningful races this season against top competition.

On Saturday, all three teams were running in the Burnt Hills Invitational at Saratoga State Park. The Dutch and the Bulldogs were in Division III and the Blackbirds competed in Division I. Each division had at least 20 teams from all over New York State.

This season, BKW and Guilderland have seen more aggressive fields than Burnt Hills. The Bulldogs traveled to the Ocean State Invitational in Warwick, R.I. on Sept. 24 and Guilderland was in New York City for the Manhattan Invitational on Oct. 9. Each event featured some of the best competition from around the country.

“It’s the most intense competition that we’ve ever faced,” BKW Head Coach Bill Tindale said of the Ocean State Invy. His boys’ and girls’ teams are ranked second and fourth in the state in Class D. “There’s no regard for school size.”

The Manhattan Invy had seven different divisions for the varsity level. The Guilderland girls were fourth out of 38 teams and the boys were seventh out of 24 teams. Senior Anna Pickett was 11th with a time of 16:16 and senior Nico Turek was 18th with 13:34.

“There’s a lot going on, so it’s a challenge to keep focused,” said girls’ coach Dave Kosier. “But, you get a chance to say that you’ve run against the very best.”

Guilderland boys’ coach Matt Wright told The Enterprise that Manhattan featured some names that would “make you take a deep breath,” but his team did pretty well. “It’s a confidence booster,” Wright said. “Most of these kids are going to the next level. It was a great experience.”

The Bulldogs had an excellent showing at the Ocean State Invy. The boys were 16th out of 88 teams and the girls were 29th out of 74. Junior Courtney Tedeschi, who frequently wins Section II races, finished 10th in the championship race.

“We were the sixth smallest school that was there,” said Tindale, who wants BKW to be elite against bigger schools. “We got a good look at where we are. We’re ready to take this to the next level.”

The Bulldogs have had much success in recent years, but Tindale said that bigger schools still aren’t convinced. “We’ve tried to break the small-school barrier for years,” he said, adding, “Although I’m very happy with where we’re at.”

Voorheesville runs against bigger schools in the Colonial Council, but the team has some gap issues this season. At the Burnt Hills Invy, Joe Becker finished fifth with a time of 16:32, followed by a 57th-place finish by Richard Decker. Senior Michelyn Little was 16th with a time of 20:23, trailed by Sawyer Cresap in 39th place.

“We have to work on the gap,” Assistant Coach Phil Carducci said. “It’ll come if we keep practicing. There’s no secret to it, really. Our motto is, ‘Keep passing somebody.’”

The Blackbirds got a chance to check out Greenwich and Fonda, a few of the teams it will be chasing come sectional time. The championships are held at Saratoga State Park every year.

“We already know they’re really good, but we want to see their times,” Carducci said.

The Guilderland girls, who placed 12th on Saturday, have been competing without two top runners this season. Junior Michelle Fish and senior Sara Buckley sustained leg injuries during the pre-season. Buckley had a time trial that was the 17th all-time best for the Dutch.

Kosier is hoping to have Fish and Buckley at full speed for sectionals. “We’re really strong if we throw those two back in,” he said. “They’ve worked hard to get back, but I don’t want them to get re-injured.”

With all the running that cross-country athletes do, legs and feet are always at risk for injury.

“You can do everything right and still get hurt,” said Wright. “We deal with a lot of shin injuries –– over use, footwear. You just need to listen to your body and be honest if you need a break.”

Tindale sees athletes for only two hours a day, but what really matters is what they do for the other 22. Runners need proper nutrition, rest, and recovery, he said; good grades and reduced anxiety can also help.

“It’s creating a balance of life,” Tindale said. “Well adjusted kids will run faster and go above and beyond. Typically, kids are focused on eating well and being great students. It does affect the running.”

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