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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 27, 2011

Class D champs vie for state honors
BKW runners know true meaning of a team

By Jordan J. Michael

VERONA –– Running six or seven days a week takes a considerable amount of motivation. It’s a lot easier when you have a bunch of friends running with you.

The Berne-Knox-Westerlo cross-country team has a wonderful support mechanism. It’s clearly visible when the runners gather around each other before and after a race. That camaraderie is a main reason why both the girls’ and boys’ teams are Class D champions and represented Section II at Saturday’s State Meet in Verona.

The boys came in second, the girls came in fourth.

On paper, the girls and boys have separate teams. In person, they rally around each other.

“We’re unified,” said senor Abby Swint, who finished 60th on Saturday, third for the girls in the state competition. “We’re one unit.”

Senior Derek Struck, who was the first BKW runner to cross the finish line for the boys in fifth place (18:04) said that he enjoys the friendly competition with his teammates. “I’m doing it for them,” he said. “It’s not for myself anymore. It’s for the team.”

The boys were ranked second in the state, and that’s where the team finished on Saturday, 17 points behind Barker.

Struck wouldn’t be able to run every day if he didn’t have support from his friends, he said.

“There’s not enough motivation for yourself,” Struck said. “Getting up to do it is the hardest part. Before sectionals, I wasn’t liking it so much, but then we won sectionals and I loved running again.”

Having a supporting cast gives you something to go for, said senior Connor Devine, who came in 14th place. “We have a great team,” he said. “You do it for the team.”

Junior Courtney Tedeschi had a time of 21:58 as the girls’ top finisher in eighth place. Her team came in fourth overall with 107 points. She had said during the Section II Championships that BKW is not segregated in any way.

“We’re always cheering for each other,” Tedeschi said. “It’s nice to see that no one ever gives up.”

Tedeschi had hopes of winning the Class D race on Saturday, but she had a 104-degree temperature earlier in the week. She felt the effects of her lingering illness while plodding through the treacherous, muddy course at Vernon-Verona-Sherill High School.

“It’s upsetting,” said Tedeschi, who was confined to her bed a few days prior. “I tried to fight through it, but it was harder to breath and my head was spinning. My shoes were all ripped up. I just tried to stay positive.”

Bulldogs’ Head Coach Bill Tindale told The Enterprise that Tedeschi takes some of the other runners to “places they’ve never been.” She wants to make sure that everyone else is prepared.

“She always wants to finish first because she’s a true competitor,” Tindale said of Tedeschi. “She did very well, especially after being so sick earlier in the week. She’s a fighter.”

Bad conditions

The 3.1-mile course at Vernon-Verona-Sherill in central New York had been covered with snow on Friday and it was a saturated mess on Saturday. The terrain had two killer hills, hairpin turns, and plenty of zigzags.

The mud was just another added obstacle to a course that is already difficult when dry. Every runner had to deal with it, a majority of them crossing the finish line with mud stains up to their waists.

The BKW girls’ race was the last of the day. By that point, the course was completely trampled over. Finishing the race without falling over was an accomplishment.

“It was terrible,” said Swint, who also played soccer for BKW this fall. “Basically, you’re slipping the entire time.”

As the BKW boys came down the final stretch, a Class D state title seemed not far out of reach. Struck was fifth, senior Sean Reynolds was seventh, Devine was 14th, and junior Adam Forti was 25th. However, the gap between Forti and sophomore Dominic Woodmansee was too large.

The Bulldogs weren’t unhappy with second, but were rather displeased with the course.

“Passing someone was almost impossible,” Devine said as he drank chocolate milk, which was available to runners after the race. “The ground looked like chocolate milk, actually. Delicious,” he said.

“You had to slow down for every turn,” said Reynolds. “Humiliating.”

“Tough,” Struck said. “Real tough.”

“Muddy,” said Forti, another double athlete who played soccer.

“Garbage,” Logan Flavell said of the course.

“Exhausting,” said Woodmansee.

“Dangerous,” Elijah Murphy said. “ Slipping the whole time.”

Despite the horrendous conditions, BKW went all out. There was no other choice. BKW hadn’t slacked once all season long.

“If you don’t give it your all, you feel horrible,” Devine said. “You see it on their faces. You can tell that they went all out. We did what we could.”

Tindale won a state title with the boys in 2004, but he said that the 2011 team is better when he looks at the times. In 2004, snow was still on the ground when the race started.

“I’ve always had great kids, but we had more depth this year,” Tindale said. “This is definitely the best team I’ve had. No weak runners.”

The Bulldogs have been working on the gap between fourth and fifth place all season. On Saturday, Forti was 1:23 faster than Woodmansee.

“Great runners need to be consistent,” said Tindale. “We’ve got much more consistency now.”

Counting all of BKW’s runners from grades 9 to 12, Tindale said that 75 percent of them run six or seven days a week throughout the entire year. This was the first time both the boys’ and girls’ teams made it to states together.

“I think we exceeded expectations,” Devine said. “There’s not going to be a better team here for a while, if ever.”

Runner’s blood

Allie Tedeschi’s following in the footsteps of her older sister, Courtney. Allie is shy and laid back. Courtney is intense and outspoken.

For BKW, Courtney always finishes first; Allie is always second.

“It doesn’t really bother me,” Allie said on Saturday of finishing behind her sister.

Courtney and Allie get the utmost support from their mother, Maria Tedeschi, who is also a coach for BKW. Coach Tedeschi likes to run with her daughters, but they’re much faster than she.

“Allie always wants to beat Courtney,” Coach Tedeschi said. “It’s friendly on the outside, but not on the inside. It gets stressful.”

Courtney started cross-country in seventh grade after Tindale found out about her mile time in gym class. During Courtney’s first two seasons of cross-country, Allie was ice-skating, but she chose to follow her sister and run in seventh grade.

Allie, now a freshman, has been chasing Courtney for the last three years. She’s gotten very close.

“It’s fun for me to see them finish one and two,” said Coach Tedeschi. “I get excited. I see their gains. I always want to watch my girls, but I want to watch the other girls, too. It’s a challenge.”

After Saturday’s race, Courtney and Allie went their separate ways. Later, they were by each other’s side, but Courtney did all of the talking.

“We have a love-hate relationship,” Courtney said. “It depends on the day. We try to get along, but we’re only human.”

The two sisters are just glad to have their mother as a coach.

“She packs my lunch,” said Courtney. “She has the ability to be there all of the time.”

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