The Fonda-Fultonville Invitational went off on Saturday, with many area teams running to kick off the cross country season.
The Fonda-Fultonville cross country program is looking to build on a successful 2012 that saw the boys team end up as Section II Class C champions, while the girls team settled for second place at the Section II Class C championships.
"We have a small corps of state meet qualifiers returning and we look to re-build around them," boys coach Mark Therrien said.
Runners break from the starting line during the boys Division I race Saturday at the Fonda-Fultonville Invitational. (The Leader-Herald/Shaun Anich)
The Braves will be running without Tyler Angioli, Matt Hoffman, Omijah Piening, Jacob Shave and Jimmy Westman this year. Returning for Fonda-Fultonville are Cameron Gilligan, Dalton Hunter and five other Braves. Clane Newcomer, a freshman, is the only addition to the boys' side this fall.
"We hope to be in the top groups at the league championships and sectionals."
Mike Benton and the Lady Braves are neither losing nor gaining a runner this fall, but rather holding strong with returners Kimberly Geniti, Carly Littlejohn, Samantha Phelps, Jamie Kasza and Kacie Hunter.
"We have a small but experienced group as always," said Benton. "We hope to improve on last year's accomplishments."
Geniti, a senior, and Kasza, a freshman, went to states last year, while Kasza also went to the Federation meet. Benton is looking to them for leadership in 2013.
After finishing 5-3, good for fourth in the Big 10, Amsterdam's boys team figures to rely on returning varsity runners Alex Stewart, Brett Flint, Teddy Piccioccia, Gabe Fernandez, and Jon Knack this season. With three spots remaining on the boy's roster, there is an open competition among younger JV runners to make the varsity squad. The Rams will have to do without the services of Nick Raponi, Matt Raponi and Josh Turo.
"The boys look to be competitive in the Big 10 as well as invitationals," said coach Kevin Wilary.
After a breakout season in 2012, Ilenis Quinones leads a core group of top runners into the 2013 season for the Lady Rams.
"[Quinones] and Cait [Adamchick] will provide great leadership to an inexperienced yet hard-working varsity squad," said coach Stu Palczak.
Chantel Dopp joins Quinones and Adamchick as three runners that Palczak considers "experienced and strong."
The Lady Rams will look for continued success after finishing second in the Big 10 last season.
The 2012 campaign was a tough season for Alissa LaPort and the Johnstown cross country program. The boys went 1-6 while the girls finished the season at 0-5. LaPort, however, is optimistic about 2013.
"This coming season is looking solid for Johnstown," LaPort said. "We have a great core group of dedicated teammates who have really stepped up."
The boys are losing Eric Brower, Seth Clark, Jared Smith, and Tyler Askew, while the girls will run without Emily Fettinger, Quincey Brabant and Alyssa Henry.
Three newcomers will accompany Daeshan Buseck and three other returners on the boys' side. Skylar Swatt is the lone returner on the girls' side, while Lindsey Fiore, Bridget Spagnuola and Tatyana Rosario are new this season.
"The newcomers are going to mix with the seasoned runners and make this season very interesting," said LaPort.
First-year Mayfield cross country coach Paul Duppen will have to overcome the loss of Tom McClellan, who has graduated and is now running at Iona, one of the best programs in the country.
The boys' side has a nice mix of returners, including Mitch Akowicz and Josh Gallup, and newcomers such as Connor Akowicz and Jackson Dunn.
"We should have a balanced team that will round into top form at the end of the season championship races," said Duppen.
After a 0-6 finish to the cross country season in 2012, the girl's team is in a rebuilding mode. Kelsey Wasson is the only returning girl from last year. Emily Cromie, Juleh Nikollaj, and Emily Barker join her.
" [This is a] rebuilding season with some very talented, young runners," said Duppen. "We are looking to improve throughout the season and add some more runners."
Another program with a first-year coach is Gloversville, as Josh Herod replaces Bob Fisher this year.
The boys' side will be without state qualifier and Fulton County Athlete of the Year finalist John Knox, but it will see the majority of the athletes from last year return. Alex Buck is the only newcomer for Gloversville.
"We are looking to be competitive up front while looking for some underclassmen to step up to round out our top seven," said Herod. "There is work to be done and we will be looking to improve upon our team placing from last year."
The girls are suffering no losses this year, with Brittany Craven, Katie Senzio, Cassandra Ryan, and six others returning. Three new girls, including Veronica Peck, Alyssa Adamkowski and Casey Brower round out the roster.
"We are getting commitment from the middle of the pack and we will be looking for underclassmen to step up in displacing positions," Herod said.
The Gloversville boys finished fourth at the Foothills Championships last year, while the girls finished third.
Eleven-year coaching veteran Jeff Richards sees 2013 as a season of youth and rebuilding for the Broadalbin-Perth cross country program.
"It has been three years since both the boys and girls won sectional championships," said Richards. "Since then, all but two athletes [Greg Bogdan and Victoria Opalka] from those teams have graduated."
The boys' team lacks numbers this year. Richards hopes to develop some new talent and hopes Bogdan's leadership can help lead an inexperienced boys team as he vies for his third trip to the New York State Championship.
Bogdan joins Alex Hitrick, Hunter Martin, and Jacob Mosher as returners for the Patriots, while Renee Bellinger, Coreena Monroe, and three others join Opalka for another season on the girls side.
While the boys will see just two newcomers, there are 10 new Lady Patriots signed on for 2013, including Allyson Becker and Mackenzie DeZolt.
"The girls team is very talented and deep," said Richards. "They also seem very eager to return our team back to the level it once was at."
The Canajoharie/Fort Plain boys team finished 8-2 overall last year, finishing fifth at the WAC meet. All of last year's runners are returning this year, with Zach Florian, Jon Payack and J.J. Hazzard joining them as newcomers.
"Some depth will hopefully develop and make us competitive in the league and sectionals," said coach Charlie Karker.
Quinn Li O'Shea and Catie Corrigan are gone from the girls side after a 2012 season with an incomplete roster. Gabby Bridgewater, Cheyenne Munson, and Carolyn Adams will join upperclassmen Abby Boyer and Alexis Kane as the Canajoharie/Fort Plain girls team tries to beat the numbers game.
"Our two upperclassmen are excited, as am I, with our three new girls," said Karker. "They have track backgrounds and look very promising as they adjust to cross country."