Storm boys run with the best, on their own
Saranac Lake cross country team's top 7 compete in Nike Virtual Nationals
CADYVILLE — “In these unprecedented times,” senior Saranac Lake runner Andrew Fogarty said with a laugh at the 2020-esque phrase, “you don’t really know when your next race is going to be, and Nike stepped up the plate.
“It’s fun to get to do this thing. I didn’t think we were going to have any races at all this season, so I really just think doing this is awesome.”
This past Saturday, the Red Storm Runners — a cross country club team composed of the top seven Saranac Lake High School boys — ran in the final 5K race to cap off their participation in the Nike Virtual Nationals, an annual competition between cross country teams across the nation that shifted online in light of the pandemic. Rather than racing side-by-side with the country’s best, qualifying club teams run by themselves and log times to determine results.
To the cheers of many supporters and the clangs of cowbells provided by Nike, the seven boys sped along the course at Cadyville Recreation Park. The sun peeked through the overcast sky just as they raced to the finish line, recording times that the team and Coach Bill Peer were very happy with.
Peter Fogarty took the top spot with a time of 15 minutes, 55 seconds. James Catania followed with 16:11, then Micah McCulley with 16:15, Andrew Fogarty with 16:30, Sam Ash with 16:47, Tucker Jakobe with 17:19 and Justin Duprey with 18:36.
While competing teams have until Tuesday to log their times for the final 5K, currently the Red Storm Runners rank seventh out of 15 teams, with an average time of 16:20 and 176 points. Individually, Peter Fogarty ranks the highest of the seven boys, placing 29th out of 122 runners currently recorded. The live results can be checked here.
Peer thought his team did excellently.
“It’s a virtual race, so you have to wait until all the results, but I thought the boys ran really well. It was a great race,” he said. “They ran with a sense of urgency.”
Some of the runners also expressed satisfaction with their performance.
“I think we were all pretty happy with the outcome, pleased with the times,” senior and team co-captain Micah McCulley said. “I thought they’d be really fast, and they definitely were.”
“Our first mile was really fast, so that was a good way to run this race,” senior Tucker Jakobe added.
With regard to the Nike competition overall, McCulley and Jakobe appreciated having more challenging races to look forward to.
“It sort of broke up the monotony of training,” McCulley said. “It was nice having some races where it was like we know we’re going to have to run fast and qualify for this. It was nice to have some races on the calendar, even if it was just with ourselves.”
“Yeah, and it was nice to know that we have some competition that’s at not just a regional level or at a state level, and I think that pushes everybody’s abilities,” Jakobe remarked.
While both the regular high school season and the Nike Virtual Nationals are over, the Red Storm hopes to participate in one more race, the Northeast Club Championship in Middletown, before the season closes, although the infection rate may affect whether or not the race can happen.
With the end of the season in sight, Peer reflected on saying goodbye to the team’s eight senior boys and one senior girl.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “We’ve really enjoyed this group of kids. They’ve just been a pleasure to be around.”
The boys said they hadn’t really dwelt on the fact that it was their last season of high school cross country.
“It feels like every other season,” Andrew Fogarty said. “I’m definitely going to look back and be like, ‘Oh, that was cool,’ but right now I’m not in the mindset that this is my last season of cross country. I’m still just having fun every meet.”
“I think it’s something we’ll look back on and be like, ‘I’m glad we made the most of it,’ but at the same time it’s been helpful to not think about that too much,” McCulley agreed. “I think just racing as we would any other season, or at least trying to race as we would any other season, has helped mitigate the effects of the whole ‘senior season’ thing.”
Jakobe summarized with a pun: “We’ve had a good run of it.”