BURNT HILLS — While Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s Section II and state boys’ cross country title streaks have been put on hold this fall, the desire to run fast and succeed continues.
“We want to bring it to those dual meets,” Burnt Hill’s junior ace Ryan Allison said.
Dual meets against Suburban Council foes will be the highlight events in the coming weeks for the Spartans now that area invitationals, as well as Section II and state-level competitions, have been called off because of gathering restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We always try to go out and win every one of them,” Burnt Hills coach Chip Button said. “That’s not going to change.”
Nor will the Spartans’ objective to get better and better as the season unfolds. They’ll be aiming for that with a solid cast, but not an elite-level cast. At least not yet.
“If we didn’t have a season, it wouldn’t be good for our program,” Button said. “We want this season to be a springboard to next fall.”
Last fall, Burnt Hills won its seventh straight Section II Class B title and fourth consecutive New York State Public High School Athletic Association crown, and added another victory at the New York Federation Cross Country Championships before placing second at the Nike Cross New York Regional Championships. Gone from the group that got it done are Kevin Board, Will Marchant and Dante Ubriaco.
“This year was going to be a rebuilding year to begin with,” said Allison, the 2019 Section II Class B meet winner. “We weren’t going to be insanely good. Next year, we’ll be picking it up.”
This year’s cast will be anchored by Allison and 2019 lead-group runners sophomore Matt Rounds and junior Nick Grock. Junior Peter Fulgieri is also back in the fold after running both varsity and JV in 2019, and the team includes first-year cross country participant Matt Windecker, a freshman.
“We’ve got me and Rounds at the top. Windecker is really big in track, and Fulgieri improved a ton over the summer,” Allison said. “The four of us plus Grock makes a solid five.”
“With all of them back [next year], I think we can be as strong as we were last year,” Button said.
And this year?
“With no sectionals or states, getting better and better through dual meets is a big thing for us,” said Allison, who is the state’s No. 1-ranked Class B runner on the Tully Runners preseason list. “Improvement is what we’re after. I don’t think that is going to go away.”
Burnt Hills is ranked No. 21 on the state’s all-class preseason team list put out by Tully Runners. The list includes four of the seven teams (all Class A) that Burnt Hills will face in its dual meet schedule in Saratoga Springs (No. 6), Shenendehowa (No. 9), Shaker (No. 18) and Niskayuna (No. 24).
“That’s a lot to measure yourself by,” Button said.
The dual meet format be with staggered starts for each of the teams competing.
“We won’t be racing against the other team,” Button said. “Some coaches aren’t happy about that, but again, just to have a season is a plus.”
Reach Jim Schiltz at [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.