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Red Storm soccer, cross country practices begin

Red Storm boys varsity players work on shooting and footwork at Schroeter’s Field Monday. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — The fall sports season at Saranac Lake High School is finally off and running. Literally.

On Monday, the fields and trails surrounding the school were abuzz with student-athletes running and kicking soccer balls as Red Storm teams practiced for the first time to begin their fall seasons.

Although there’s no guarantee, the varsity soccer and cross country teams are looking forward to playing abbreviated competitive schedules expected to start in early to mid October. But at least on Monday, the dozens of athletes outside training were fortunate enough to get in their first official workouts together on a sunny warm day.

The girls varsity soccer team actually had the honor of kicking off the delayed season at Saranac Lake, holding its first 2020 practice earlier in the day.

All team members wore masks and that’s expected to be the case during competitions as well, with some possible exceptions. There may be certain times during cross country meets when runners can remove their masks.

Members of the two-time defending Class C state champion Saranac Lake boys cross country team gather for a group photo prior to starting their first practice of the season Monday afternoon. Although the coronavirus pandemic denied the squad the opportunity of a possible three-peat at the state level, they’ll still be out there giving it their all if meets take place against schools nearby. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Saranac Lake Central School District Director of Athletics Eric Bennett said only the varsity teams will compete this fall, although no soccer games or cross country meets have been scheduled yet.

Although the junior varsity and modified sports programs will not face other schools this fall, they are holding practices, and there were plenty of younger student-athletes gathered outdoors on Monday working out together as members of those Red Storm teams.

If competition at the varsity level does take place, and there was optimisim expressed by various coaches about that happening, Red Storm teams could find themselves going up against opponents from schools that are the nearest to Saranac Lake, with Lake Placid being the closest at 10 miles away.

Athletes are required to participate in 10 practices prior to competing.

Last fall, Brad Rafferty was an associate head coach for the boys varsity soccer team with Josh Marlow, and Rafferty has taken over the program this year after Marlow stepped aside on a high note, guiding Saranac Lake’s boys to their first Section VII title.

Red Storm girls varsity cross country team members do some stretching at practice Monday. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Jason Wamsganz takes over the varsity girls soccer team following the departure of Emily Doyle Shubert, and Bill Peer again leads the Saranac Lake cross country program along with a host of other coaches including Joe Garso.

Instead of competing on their regular home turf at Schroeter’s Field, the soccer teams are planning to play games at the Petrova Avenue field, with matches expected to be held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The cross country teams are looking at Saturdays as meet days and are still working out where their home course will be.

Although fall football for public high schools isn’t being held in New York state due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions, Bennett said that about 40 students, ranging from seventh-graders to seniors, are taking advantage of an opportunity to stay active and enjoy the sport by participating in a newly formed flag football league.

Members of the Red Storm modified cross country team run in the sun on Monday. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

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