MALONE — Amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 era, sports have been up in the air since March.
But the first cross country meets of the year are slated for Oct. 10 and teams have been adjusting to the new guidelines and precautions as they condition for the abbreviated season.
Knowing their seasons could cut even shorter at any point in the event of a coronavirus case has left many concerned about how long they’ll have to compete, but for Malone’s Dylan Perry, he’s trying to make the most of it.
“(Just) having a good time,” Perry said on what he’s trying to get out of the shortened season.
The senior is coming off a 2019 campaign in which he won the Justin Casserly Most Valuable Runner award. He was also one of seven members of the Huskies who represented Section 10 at the last state championship.
Having secured the Class B crown a year ago, Malone will try to carry that momentum into this season.
Huskies coach Matt Tessier, now in his 11th year at the helm of the program, has stressed the need to adjust on the run.
“Kids all across the country are operating with totally different scenarios,” Tessier said. “I’m sure it’ll be competitive as it always is.”
COVID-19 caused the school to go to remote learning for the first two weeks of the school year. With classes returning to in-person, many students have elected to stick with remote learning – Perry included.
Through fulfilling the remote physical education requirement, students still can compete in interscholastic athletics. Many north country rosters look smaller due to coronavirus concerns, but the Huskies are returning depth.
“One of the things I think is helping us for this year is that we have a lot of dedicated guys and we have a group of 20. A couple of the teams that have had the numbers close to our numbers are only at 10,” Tessier said. “They have a lot of kids that decided to quit because they don’t want to wear masks (while running) or aren’t willing to adjust to the situation.”
Perry is making said adjustments.
“I try to get ahead of everyone so I can breathe,” Perry said. “You can take the mask off after you’re a far enough distance away so it’s not contagious or anything. So I just focus on doing that.”
The girls cross country team not only retained a deep roster, but also gained new runners. With the swim season floated to the spring, swimmers have stepped in for the Huskies.
“I think they’re just wanting to get out and do something,” girls cross country coach Chad Lawrence said. “Hopefully they’ll enjoy it and stick around.”
Lawrence has been coaching the girls cross country team for six years, and made it to states every season with individuals qualifying last year.
All meets will now be on Saturdays as opposed to Tuesday evenings. Without invitationals this year, every school district in the north country will compete within the section.
Teams are likely at different levels of conditioning due to the quartantine and late start to the season. But Lawrence pointed out there are exceptions.
“There are some that are pretty hardcore that have been training all summer, so it’ll be easier for them,” Lawrence said.
Malone hopes not only to make it to the end of the season but to finish it strong.
Sectionals, three classes for boys and girls, will be combined with the interdivisional meet, which is traditionally held a week earlier at a different course. The meet, currently scheduled for Nov. 14, will now serve as both and the times from the combined races will determine the overall league champion. The interdivisionals also determine the 2020 All-NAC teams.
“We are having sectionals for cross country,” Tessier said. “Usually what we’ve done is everyone runs together, all the teams. We’re now dividing it by classes.
“The B schools will run their races and then those schools will leave. And then the C schools will get off their buses and come run then leave, then D schools will come and run. So we’ll basically have three meets going on here that day and everybody will be separated.”
In order to get to those sectionals yet again, the Huskies will have to get acclimated to a short season that consists of social distancing, mask-wearing and remote education.
“If we’re good with wearing the masks and doing the workouts we need to do, then we can move right back up,” Tessier said. “We’re going to try to get back to the top this year.”
Last year was the year of the Flyers as Norwood-Norfolk’s boys and girls each finished 9-0.
Norwood-Norfolk’s girls return a lot of their key runners, including standout Maddie Dinneen, who is the defending Class C champion and also finished eighth as a sophomore last year at the state meet. Also returning for the Flyers is sophomore Sharon Colbert, who was second to Dinneen in the Section 10 championship meet.
Potsdam’s girls were 8-1 last year, followed by Canton (7-2) and Gouverneur (6-3). Canton returns sophomores Grace McDonough and Natalie Pearon, who finished second and third in the Section 10 Class B championship race.
Malone, Potsdam and Canton all finished 7-2 to tie for second place last year.
the Huskies are led by senior Dylan Perry, who won the Section 10 Class B championship and sophomore Watson Chodat was second.
Canton returns defending Class C champion Nick Lyndaker.
Clifton-Fine is joining Section 10 this season.