2016 High School Cross Country Preview: On the run

Heading into the 2016 season, several of the area’s high school cross-country teams are looking to replace key contributors from last season.

Amsterdam, Broadalbin-Perth, Fort Plain-Canajoharie, Fonda-Fultonville and Gloversville all will be looking to replace runners who graduated after last season. FFCS also returns to the Western Athletic Conference after a stint in the Colonial Council.

Johnstown returns the bulk of its roster from last season, while Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville will field a cross-country team for the first time this season.

Foothills Council

The Amsterdam boys cross-country team lost Gabe Fernandez, Jon Knack, Will Weinheimer and Edgar Maldonado from last year’s team, which finished second in the Foothills Council South Division.

The Rams return Ryan Kamanu, Trevor Dzikowicz and John Companion from last year’s team and have added a group of several newcomers. That group includes Antonio Natale, Jon Santiago, Chris Pikul, Lucas Tepan, Marcos Santiago, Nick Brasmeister, Nick Rodecker, Corey Motyl, Cuba Fernandez, Dan Bublak and Tommy Ziskin.

“An infusion of talented youth has brought both enthusiasm and talent to the team. With Ryan Kamanu leading the way, the mix of veterans and underclassman look to compete for the Foothills South league championship,” Amsterdam boys coach Kevin Wilary said. “For sectional competition, the team has been bumped up to the hyper-competitive Class A, yet the team looks forward to challenging itself against some of the best competition in both the state and nation.”

The Amsterdam girls will look to replace Chantel Dopp from last’s year squad, which finished second in the Foothills Council South Division and seventh at the Section II Class B Championships.

The Lady Rams return Olivia Lazarou, who has qualified for the state meet in each of the last two seasons, along with Kayla Sondrup, Mikayla Pine, Kayla Dzikowicz, Dalia Quinones and Gabby Feliciano. Rounding out the Amsterdam roster are newcomers Lauren Santiago, Skylar Grybos, Gabby Maroto, Brook Marshall, Sydney Sczepanik, Natalia Quinones, Emma Kelly and Megan Close.

“An infusion of talented youth has brought both enthusiasm and talent to the team,” said Amsterdam girl coach Stu Palczak, who is entering his 17th season. “With Olivia Lazarou leading the way, the mix of veterans and underclassmen look to compete for the Foothills South league championship.”

Like Amsterdam, Broadalbin-Perth has plenty of holes to fill in its lineup heading into the 2016 season.

The boys team, which was sixth at the Section II Class CC Championships, lost Alex Hitrick, Noah Marek and Jacob Mosher. The B-P girls team, which was second in Class CC, will need to replace Renee Bellinger, Mackenzie Frye, Breanne Mosher, Cadey Nolan and Joanna Tavolaro.

Returning for the B-P boys team are Devin Becker, Wyatt Couperus, James Mosher and Evan Smith, while Allyson Becker, Jessie Brooks, Julie Capito, Jordyn DeNeuville, Mackenzie DeZolt, Gabrielle Larsen, Victoria Laurange, Brooke McClarren, Carley Nolan and Celina Onzo are back for the girls squad.

“This year’s team is full of youth and inexperience. However with this youth comes much potential. The first few weeks of practice have been exciting as this squad represents a new hope for Broadalbin-Perth cross country,” said Broadalbin-Perth coach Jeff Richards, who is entering his 14th season. “They remind me of my first team back in 2003, as they seem to have a passion to get our program back to the top again. Like that 2003 team, this team does not seem to have any one superior runner, but instead is a group of many good runners. If they can learn to work together and feed off of each other within our meets this team could be among the best I have ever coached. They have a strong spark started and I am hoping that each week they find a way to make that fire burn brighter.”

Gloversville lost Chris Hernandez, Austin Reese and Anthony Hayes from its boys team and Kaitlyn Senzio, Tierney Vandeusen and Kiara Kruger from its girls team.

Returning for the Huskies on the boys side will be Skyler Reed, while Brenna Wooster and Veronica Peck are back from the girls team.

Newcomers Alek Roice, Austin Oare, Riley Lake, Zach Rocas and John Witzke have been added to the Gloversville boys team.

“The team will have good leadership up front and we will focus on steadily improving both individually and as a team, over the course of the season,” Gloversville coach Josh Herod said of his boys team. “We will be looking to improve our team places at championships and sectionals.”

Rounding out the Gloversville girls team are newcomers Daley Jo Christman, Autumn Hardman, Sandra Snell and Rhea Winter.

“We have some experience coming back which helps motivate our girls team. We will be looking to improve both individually and as a team over the course of the season. Also, looking to improve our team places at championships and sectionals.”

With most of his team back, Johnstown coach Bryan Yager is optimistic heading into the season.

“Both our boys and girls teams are returning top-five runners from last year,” said Yager, who will share coaching duties with Ashleigh Scott. “The team is seasoned with veterans, along with a core group of young runners who are eager to succeed. We are looking forward to having a strong and successful 2016 campaign.”

The Johnstown boys team returns Brandon Mraz, Gabe Cole, Mike Simone, Dominic DiScoscia, Zach Ropeter and Will Dickson, while Aylene Newman, Julia Sarullo, Julia Preston, Casey VanValkenburgh and Lyndsey Fiore are back for the girls squad.

Rounding out the Johnstown boys roster will be newcomers Alex Quillan, Mark Cwiakala, Alfio DeMarco, Nate Cotton, Jesse Ferri and Christian Germany, while Lauryn Wilson is the lone newcomer on the girls team.

WAC

Two area teams will join the Western Athletic Conference this season, as Fonda-Fultonville returns to the league and Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville makes its cross-country debut.

It’s going to feel good going back home to the Western Athletic Conference and we should have both a good varsity boys and girls squad to reintroduce ourselves to our old league,” Fonda-Fultonville coach Mike Benton said.

The FFCS boys lost Damion Freeman to graduation, while the girls lost Jamie Kasza.

Returing for the boys team will be Aidan Zenzen, Travis Geniti, Clane Newcomer, Shane Barker and Anthony Carcaci, while Avery Cook, Mariah VanAvery Katie Dunham, Alyson Shirley and Hailie LaPratt are back for the FFCS girls. Katie Showers is the lone newcomer to the girls team, while Thomas Etzkorn, Joe Curtis and Anthony Gatto are new to the boys squad.

Heading into its first season, OESJ is looking forward to competing in cross country for the first time.

“We are looking to have a strong first season, lay a foundation to build a program around and make a splash into WAC cross country,” coach Matthew Battisti said.

The inaugural OESJ lineup includes Tyler Brado, Jeff Baker, Tyler Clark, Aidan Eggleston, Justus Richardson, Liam Sammons, Michael Smith and Gabriel Brown on the boys team, while Jazmin Mumford is the lone girl on the team.

Fort Plain-Canajoharie lost several runners from its boys team, including Robert Thomas, Michael Thomas, Travis Herringshaw, Andrew Hanifin, Zach Reese, Hans Hudyncia and Logan Arduini.

Returning to the Fort Plain-Canajoharie boys team are Michael Hoffman, A.J. Sullivan, Jacob Thomas, Sean Staples, Michael D’Arcangelis and Louis Calbet, while newcomers Andrew Yacobucci, Hunter Congdon, Emory Sammons, Jason Huang, Trever Howard and Eric Elliott complete the roster.

“We feel the newcomers should help bolster our depth. Each day is a learning experience for the, It will be tough to replace the seniors,” Fort Plain-Canajoharie coach Charlie Karker said.

The Fort-Plain-Canajoharie girls team most of its team from last season after finishing fourth in the Section II Class D Championships.

Cheyenne Munson, Carolyn Adams, Lexi Veitch, Amber Douglas, Eliza Cechnicki, Emily Marsh, Kendall Kennedy and Olivia Hopkins all return for Fort-Plain-Canajoharie.

They will be joined by newcomers Jordan Porter, Michaela Stockwell, Hannah Robinson and Sarah Hoffman.

“We are hoping that our experience with the addition of newcomers should give us some pretty solid quality and depth,” Karker said.

In his first season as Mayfield coach, Ryan Bornt inherits a small squad that includes several returning runners.

The boys team lost Devante Marshall and Ryan MacFarland to graduation, but it returns Josh Febbie, Tyler Newkirk, Connor Akowicz and Nate VanHorn.

Newcomers Luka Nikollaj and Harrison Harper round out the Mayfield boys roster.

The Mayfield girls team is comprised of Madison Relyea, Maggy Lambo, Molly Lambo, Emily Barker, Juleh Nikollaj and Katelyn Akowicz – all of whom competed for the Lady Panthers last season.

“This year’s team is small but experienced,” Bornt said. “The team looks forward to a fun and competitive season running against their WAC and Section 2 rivals.”