Broadalbin-Perth runners succeed by sticking together

Jeff Richards had a total of eight runners when he took over the Broadalbin-Perth boys’ and girls’ c

Jeff Richards had a total of eight runners when he took over the Broadalbin-Perth boys’ and girls’ cross country programs six years ago.

Now he’s sending two teams to the state meet.

The B-P girls have been a force in Section II Class B for the last four years, and the boys have

finally caught up, beating Ichabod Crane by 10 points at sectionals last Friday.

Neither team has anyone who will threaten for an individual title, but that, in a way, is to their advantage, because the Patriots have learned to stick together, staying in contact with each other through the course of a crowded race.

“We had seven girls in the top 15 at sectionals, and the boys, all 10 were in the top 30, so it’s those packs that make us so strong,” Richards said. “We’re not one of these teams that’ll have one individual stand out at states. It takes five, and in this case, it takes seven.”

Although both the B-P boys’ and girls’ teams are characterized by pack running, they contrast each other in terms of experience at the state meet.

The girls sent three individuals in 2004, finished sixth as a team in 2005, missed the state meet in 2006 with an eight-point loss to

Cobleskill-Richmondville and resumed their progression with a fifth place at the state meet last year.

They’re ranked No. 6 and are shooting for a top three Saturday at Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island.

The boys, meanwhile, have never been there, and in fact have just one runner, Andrew Goodspeed, who has made it as an individual. The senior qualified in 2006 and ’07, finishing 60th last year.

“He’s actually learned a lot, that you’ve got to treat it like any other race, and that’s what he’s telling the team,” Richards said. “He told me that the first year he was there, he got a little nervous and that took himself out of it.”

The Patriots will have two other seniors at Sunken Meadow, RJ Reakes and Aaron Hawkins, along with juniors Adam Rasefske and Andrew Bogdan, sophomore Trever McConnell and freshman Justin Ferguson, who was the No. 2 man at sectionals, seventh overall and two places behind Goodspeed.

The seven B-P runners finished within a one-minute spread, and youngsters Austin Becker, Austin Reakes and James Vainauskas were only another 11 seconds or less behind.

“They knew that if they kept themselves in a pack together, we could beat Ichabod Crane, but it would take a total team effort,” Richards said.

“Ichabod Crane was hard to judge. They don’t race very many meets, and they haven’t raced their top seven, but we know who their top seven are. We lost to them three years in a row, but we knew we were gaining on them. We

finally got over the hump.”

Except for the hiccup against

Cobleskill in 2006, the B-P girls have established themselves as mainstay at the state meet.

They rolled to victory at sectionals, scoring 19 points as senior Gina Cristaldi, freshman Opal Jessica Bogdan, freshman Emily Baker and senior Nicole Wojciechowski took second through fifth, respectively, behind Glens Falls’ Erika Kuhn.

To illustrate how the team has been pulled along by its exper­ienced seniors, but is also laying the foundation for the future, all seven girls going to the state meet are either seniors or freshmen, including senior Julianna Mendez and freshmen Sarah DePalma and Nicole Vainauskas.

The combined programs have 42 runners, compared to eight when Richards took over.

“We have some seniors who are not going to the state meet, too. They built this, and hopefully, we started a tradition,” he said. “I think there will be some big shoes to fill, but the seniors have shown what it takes. We’ve got four freshman girls going to the state meet, and four boys who are underclassmen. The seniors are the first group I started with. They’re the ones who built it, not me.

“They realized that if you want to win, you’ve got to work for it. Wishing doesn’t work. They bought into it.”

Categories: High School Sports

Leave a Reply