Lake Placid XC off and running, masks and all

Lake Placid’s girls, from the left, Erin Roth, Kelly Le, Ellen Lansing and Astrid Livesey kick off their competitive season on Saturday, Oct. 10 on their home course at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. News photo — Lou Reuter

LAKE PLACID — You might call it COVID cross country, but in the end, it’s still running.

On Saturday, Oct. 10, the Lake Placid boys and girls varsity cross country teams finally got a chance to compete against another school as the Blue Bombers opened their season.

The encouragement offered to every runner by coaches and fans from both teams was the same as it always has been. And the competitive nature from the student-athletes also hadn’t changed.

But almost everything else was very different from years past as the Lake Placid boys and girls participated in their first meet of five meets on their shortened schedule Saturday at Mount Van Hoevenberg against runners from the Boquet Valley-Moriah combined team.

There certainly was a new look to the competition that was held under numerous new rules to follow protocols regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lake Placid boys are the first runners to leave the start line in their first varsity meet of the season on Saturday, Oct. 10 against Boquet Valley-Moriah. From the left are Colton Kondrat, Sean Roth, Ethan Cash, Jack Lawrence, Zach Gavin, Andrew Scanio and Evan Brenner. News photo — Lou Reuter

Instead of kicking off the race with cross country’s traditional mass start, teams departed in a staggered fashion, with host Lake Placid runners leaving the line together and the visitors beginning their race as a group three minutes later. That was the case for the varsity boys and girls, as well as Lake Placid’s modified runners. And the other major difference, which was the most visible change of all, was that all runners wore face masks for basically every stride of the way.

Boquet Valley-Moriah won the boys varsity meet 20-41, while the girls competition was uncontested in terms of team scoring as neither side entered enough runners.

Although he was running by himself with no opponent to push him, Lake Placid’s Andrew Scanio took first place in the boys race, crossing the finish line in 19 minutes, 35 seconds, which was nearly a minute faster then the second-place finisher.

The combined visiting team grabbed the next five spots, with Cole Simmer finishing runner-up in 20:29 and Denali Garnica placing third in 20:59. Also for Boquet Valley-Moriah, Emery Tausinger was fourth, Landon Peters finished fifth and Sawyer Vanburan placed sixth.

Jack Lawrence, a senior and newcomer to cross country running, was Lake Placid’s second runner to cross the line, finishing seventh in 23:09. Also for the Blue Bombers, Evan Brenner finished 11th, Colton Kondrat was 12th, Ethan Cash finished 13th and Sean Roth placed 14th.

Scanio pointed out that the two difficulties involved in running cross country this season are wearing a mask and the staggered start.

“My coach just came up to me and told me I won by a little bit, which surprised me because I was by myself the whole race and I didn’t have anybody to pace myself with,” Scanio said about 10 minutes after crossing the finish line. “Running in a mask is not fun. Some of the guys out there are pretty fast, but having them start later, it’s just tough because I don’t really know how to pace myself super well, and there were just two schools out there today.

“I try to go out kind of hard, and since there are two laps, I try to take it easy on the first lap and then the second lap try to match my time or go slightly faster,” Scanio continued. “This race I was going kind of hard on the first lap, and on the second lap, because of the mask, I was struggling to breath and keep up my pace.”

Also for Boquet Valley-Moriah, Gage Perry, Brayden Peters and Sam Anderson placed eighth through 10th, respectively, and Breckin Smith finished 15th.

Lake Placid’s boys were without another top runner, Max Flanigan, who was missing due to a family commitment and is expected back for the rest of the season.

The Blue Bombers’ girls squad also competed without its top two runners, Harley Cohan and Annie Rose-McCandlish, and they are hoping to be in the lineup for upcoming meets.

The combined team took the top two spots in the girls race, with Sophia McKieran easily finishing on top in 24:00 and Emily Gangi placing second in 27:38.

Ellen Lansing grabbed third for the Blue Bombers in 29:20, Boquet Valley-Moriah runner Sydney Glebis was fourth, and Blue Bombers Astrid Livesy, Kelly Le and Erin Roth rounded out the field in fifth through seventh place.

Blue Bombers coach Mel Frazer said hosting a race is more difficult this season for the coaches, timers and competitors, but in the big picture, she said it was great seeing the kids out on the course.

“I think it’s easier for the group that starts second, because for the first group off, they don’t have that carrot to chase,” Frazer said. “Having COVID being a piece of meets now has certainly made hosting a race more difficult. You have to check all the kids when they arrive, and as a coach now, you’re having to keep track of their time, which takes away from being able to coach when they’re out there.

“All of that makes it hard to make it feel like it’s a real meet, but it is, and we want the kids to realize that,” Frazer added. “I think they did. It’s great that they are out there. It’s something they really need.”

Scanio, a sophomore, said it was great being in a meet again, despite the unfortunate drawbacks.

“I’m actually pretty happy with how it went,” he said. “It’s so much fun. I’m so glad I can be out there with all of my teammates and interact with other people from different schools, even though we’re in masks and six feet apart. It’s so good to be out and see my friends again.”

The next meet on the schedule for the Blue Bombers boys and girls is on the road Saturday against Saranac Central. It will take place at the Cadyville Recreation Park starting at 2 p.m.