Two area cross-country teams are looking to continue the successes of past seasons.
The Fonda-Fultonville boys' team looks to return to the New York State Class C championship meet. However, another local team may stand in the Braves' way as the Broadalbin-Perth Patriots have dropped to Class C, after finishing fourth in a redrawn Class B sectional field.
The Braves have lost three key runners - Mike Scott, Kaleb Godfrey and Levi Redlin - off last year's team that went on to the state meet after winning the championship meets for both Section II Class C and the Colonial Council.
The Fonda-Fultonville boys cross country team (yellow jerseys) will be looking to defend its Section II Class C and Colonial Council titles this season. (The Leader-Herald/Blll Trojan)
However, the Braves will return a number of strong runners from last year's squad.
"We have a great group of boys with a lot of experience so we look forward to see how they improve upon last year's successes," Fonda-Fultonville coach Mark Therrien said.
Returning from the Braves are: Matt Hoffman (14th at state Class C meet), Tyler Angioli (37th), Jimmy Westman (58th), Dalton Hunter (83rd), Omijah Piening (107th) and Jacob Shave (122nd).
The experienced runners will mix with a group of newcomers ranging from senior Joe Fox to a pair of freshmen.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the improvements in this group this season and, as always, we hope to be in the top groups at the league championships and sectionals," Therrien said.
The girls' team is low on numbers, but long on experience as all runners from last year's team that finished 2nd at both the Colonial Council championships and the Section II Class C championships.
The Lady Braves will return junior Kimberly Geniti, who finished 16th at the state Class C championships, Jamie Kasza, who finished 19th as an eighth-grader and senior Samantha Phelps, who finished 70th last year at states.
"We have a small but experienced group and as always, we hope to improve on last year's accomplishments," Therrien said. "Kimberly, Jamie and Sam went to states last year so we will be looking to them to lead the way again this year."
The Broadalbin-Perth Patriots will enter what coach Jeff Richards is calling a rebuilding year for his program as the boys and girls teams combined for a loss of 11 runners.
"Those 11 have been the heart and soul of our team for a very long time," Richards said.
Last year, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association did away with the five-class format by eliminating Class AA and redrew the state in a four-class format.
According to their BEDS numbers, Broadalbin-Perth fell into Class A, where it ran into perennial Section II powers Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Queensbury.
"My seniors lost out on a chance to win one last sectional title," Richards said. "Although we remained a Class B team last year, we essentially competed against all Class A schools, and in the end, we fell just a little bit short."
The boys' team finished fourth at the sectional tournament and the girls' were fifth at sectionals and failed to send any runners to the state Class B championship meet.
"It's a shame because I truly believe last year's team may have been the best team I have ever coached and would have realistically had a chance to win a state title had the classification system remained as was," Richards said.
Both teams return plenty of runners of last year's squads, including Greg Bogdan, who finished 20th at sectionals last year, and Matthew Dyer (47th), Patrick Brown (77th), Alex Hitrick (111th).
The girls return sectional finishers Saran Naple (55th), Mackenzie Ottati (62nd), Victoria Opalka (74th), Christa Decker (84th).
"In order to be successful this year, our young squad must develop quickly, adjust to being varsity runners and believe that they can be just as successful as those who came before them," Richards said. "Although we are low in numbers, there is a lot of talent. I am hoping that each of these young runners realize their potential quickly. Being low in numbers will require this to happen as there is little room for a runner to have a bad race."
This year, the Patriots will move down to the Class C bracket, where the boys' team will have to compete with last year's champion, Fonda-Fultonville. The girls team will be running against last year's champion, Greenwich.
"Although many teams may have their top runner or two in before we do, I am hoping we can get in seven before others get in their fifth," Richards said. "If we do this, I truly believe we can once again compete for a sectional title."
The Gloversville Huskies return their entire roster from last season's team which finished fifth at the Foothills Council meet. The girls team was fourth at the Foothills meet.
Returning for the boys are: John Knox (12th at sectionals), Alex Gifford (19th), Hunter Marshall (82nd), Jack Hayes (119th), Justin Unislawski (146th) and Phil Meher (150th).
The Lady Huskies lost Kelly Lawton, who finished 40th at sectionals last year, but return Emily Ambrosino (60th), Morgan Rienhardt (73rd), Alicia Anich (86th), Haley Schuyler (92nd), Sarah Ambrosino (101st) and Darrianna Port (103rd).
"We're hopeful of a top three finish in the Foothills and a top six in sectionals barring injuries and we get continued improvement," Gloversville coach Bob Fisher said.
Johnstown has enough numbers this year to field a complete team for both the boys and the girls.
Daeshan Buseck, who finished 48th for the Sir Bills at the sectional Class B championship meet, returns for the boys team, while Alyssa Henry (117th) is the top returnee for the girls' team.
Quincey Brabant (132nd) and Emily Fettinger (149th) also return for the girls' team.
Returning for the boys team are: Tyler Askew (113th), Cameron Roten (137th) and Eric Brower (151st),
"It's great to see new faces that are welcomed by our seasoned runners," second-year coach Allissa LaPort said. "There's been a lot of growth in the team and the runners are utilizing each other to better one and another as a whole. We now have a full girls team to compete with once again. Everyone is anxious to start the season."
Western Athletic Conference
The Mayfield Panthers will return one of their two state championship meet participants from last year, Tom McClellan, who finished 22nd at the state Class D championships last season.
The team's other state competitor, Dave Krutz (38th) is one of last year's three departing seniors.
Returning will be Jake Smith (24th at sectionals), Mitch Akowicz (35th), Josh Gallup (45th), Josh Murphy (58th), Dylan Lanza (60th).
"The boys team should be good in the WAC and sectionals this year," Mayfield coach Greg Ernst said. "Tom McClellan will be joined by a solid returning core and although we lost some key runners to graduation, our goal is to improve on last year's third-place finishes."
The girls team will return two state competitors, Sarah Montgomery, who finished 45th at states last year as a junior, and Lidija Nikollaj, who finished 46th.
Allie Miller (18th at sectionals) also returns for the Lady Panthers.
"The girls are a small yet competitive group," Ernst said. "Seniors Lidija and Sarah have been WAC all-stars and made it to the state meet the last two seasons. With senior Allie Miller coming back and newcomer Kelsey Wasson, it should be another productive season."
Canajoharie-Fort Plain lost six runners from its boys team and four from the girls' squad. Last year, the boys team compiled a 6-3 overall record and a 4-3 record in the WAC. They finished fifth at the WAC meet and 15th in the Classs C sectional meet.
"We are an inexperienced but motivated group," C-FP coach Charlie Karker said of the boys' team. "Our league is always tough, so if we can match last year's accomplishments, that would be good."
The boys return sectional finishers Jordan Ahrens (72nd), Evan Searles (106th) and Zephren Vosburgh (155th).
By comparison, the girls' team is small and has barely enough runners to field a complete team.
"We must stay healthy so we aren't incomplete as a team," Karker said. "We're trying to recruit more girls as school starts."
Sectional participants Alexis Kane (83rd), Abby Boyer (85th), Quinn Li O'Shea (86th) and Catie Corrigan (111th) return to the team this season.
The Amsterdam Running Rams are looking to improve on a season that saw them post a 6-2 record in the league, and score a third-place finish at the league meet. They were eighth at the Class B sectional meet.
Amsterdam will be led by Nick and Matt Raponi who finished 31st and 61st respectively at the Class B sectionals.
"The Rams look to improve their standings in the Big 10 league and will gun for a top five position in the very competitive Class B sectional," Amsterdam boys coach Kevin Wilary said.
Other returning sectional finishers include Brett Flint (76th), Teddy Picciocca (128th), Pat Purtell (145th) and Josh Turo (147th).
The girls' team, meanwhile, will look to regain its league meet title after being edged last season by Notre-Dame Bishop Gibbons and Catholic Central.
To that end, the Lady Rams will return a wealth of talent, girls coach Stu Palczak said.
Returning are sectional finishers Chantel Dopp (59th), Kelly Paris (63rd), Caitlyn Adamchick (76th), Deb Johnson (88th) and Illenis Quinones (98th).