Red Storm veterans blend with newcomers

Saranac Lake cross country (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

SARANAC LAKE — With a new but experienced coach at the helm, the Saranac Lake cross-country running team is geared up and excited to continue its winning ways.

Coach Bill Peer, who was also the varsity coach in the 2000s, is happy to be back in the saddle.

“It was an opportunity to come back, so I came back,” Peer said. “It’s fun, so I came back. It’s a nice team, nice group of kids.

“I think our boys team probably has more experience. I think we’re a little untested on the girls side, team-wise,” he said. “We have a couple of good runners on the girls side, (and) the boys will really be determined if they stay healthy.

“We have a lot of depth on the boys team, but we have to stay healthy at the top.”

Peer said he expects good things from Anderson Gray, Tyler Martin and Lauchlan Cheney-Seymour for the boys team this season.

“We’ve got a few returning upperclassmen on the girls side,” coach Joe Garso, who mainly works with the girls team, said. “But we’ve got some great new young recruits that are first-year, so it’s pretty nice. I think Madison Grimone is probably our best runner right from the get-go, and I think because we’ve got some young blood coming in we’re going to have to see how things shake out and see who ends up filling in the rest of the top spots.

“I don’t think we’ve got a clear top-seven yet, so it’s kind of exciting.”

Gray, a junior with a lot of running experience, thinks the team has improved over the last few years and is looking forward to a strong season.

“I couldn’t ask for much more,” Gray said. “We’re just really, really packed this year and I’m really looking forward to running with these great guys.”

Gray has been training all summer, and added that he has racked up a lot of miles since school has been out.

“The main thing was mileage this summer, just pack on the mileage,” he said. “The longer days are about 11 miles. It’s been hard at times, but I just have to think of why I’m doing it.”

Martin, a senior, is optimistic going into his third year of running cross country.

“I feel like track (and field) is more individual and this is really good team bonding,” Martin said. “I run track and indoor track. It’s a fun school year.”

Despite strong performances last year, some of the runners are looking forward to taking on their rivals from previous years.

“I’m looking forward to beating Saranac,” Grimone, a senior, said. “And everybody improving their times from last year.”

As a team leader, Grimone said the younger kids on the team mesh well as they join the varsity ranks.

“I’m heavy on recruiting the younger girls to come and run,” she said. “They all seem to like it, so it’s not hard to keep them coming back. We’re a pretty tight-knit team.”