Saturday, October 2, 2010

Berlin X-C looking to climb a few more hills in 2010

The Berlin High School boys cross country team bursts off the starting line at the 72nd annual Grout Run in Schenectady's Central Park Saturday morning. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

SCHENECTADY -- The biggest rivalry the cross country teams at Berlin High School have is with the squads that share locker rooms with them.

The Berlin boys were ranked No. 7 in the latest New York State Sportswriters Association Class D cross country poll and the girls team is a perennial Section II title contender. The girls have finished in the top three at the Section II meet each of the past six years. Five times in the past six years, the boys have accomplished the same feat.

Although the program has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 15 years under head coach Richard Ingraham – he could not even field full teams when he first started – Berlin’s cross country runners still take some gruff in the hallways and the cafeteria from the members of the soccer teams.

The runners, however, are ready to defend their sport to anyone who will listen.

"It’s kind of like where you love doing it," Alex French, right, a junior captain on the boys team said at the 72nd annual Grout Run in Central Park on Saturday. "A lot of people, a lot of soccer players, put it down. But you really don’t care because you just feel you’re happy you get a high off of running and you love to win."

"I think it’s definitely much more popular now," said junior captain Kayleigh Corrado, left. "I think we have a feud with the soccer team. Me and my friend, we joined from the soccer team and we go back and forth on which one is better. I think there is more personal pride in cross country because it is a team thing, but it’s very individual and when you succeed, you know it’s because you succeeded. You weren’t helped. But when you fail…"

French finished the Division C run at the Grout Meet in 15:17.57, good for 16th place. Fellow captain Lew Palmer, right, was right behind him, running 15:18.13. The Mountaineers placed third behind Fonda-Fultonville and Schenectady Christian in team points.

For the Berlin girls, Corrado ran an 18:13.69 on the 2.75-mile course, as she placed 10th in the Division C race. Hannah French (18:15.47) finished 12th and Liz Sheehy ran a 20:19.88, which was good for 41st.

"We have a really, really good chance of winning sectionals this year and we just have to work hard," said Sheehy, below left, a junior captain who started on the team as a seventh grader.

Corrado hasn’t found being a leader on the team a naturally easy task, but she isn’t afraid to provide a bit of encouragement to her teammates when they need a push.

"You have to be willing to tell people when you think they can give more," Corrado said. "Sometimes it’s really hard and you want to just take it easy, but as a team, you have to keep working or you’re going to slip. In soccer, it’s different."

Ingraham isn’t sure just how many of his current runners will wind up on college teams in the future, but he enjoys bringing his team to the Grout Run for the scholarship opportunities it can offer.

"I have sent dozens of kids on to run in college," Ingraham said. "That’s the thing I enjoy the most about it. Out of our little valley and our little school, literally dozens have gone on to run at school. I’ve had national junior college champions, and a national Division III champion come out of our school. We’ve sent kids all over the United State for running, but especially Cobleskill."

Corrado represented the team at the New York State meet a season ago, but this time, she wants to bring everyone else with her.

"I went to states by myself last year and it was scary," she said. "But I’m planning on the whole team going this year."

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