ST. ALBANS — The BFA St. Albans’ cross country team spent the spring and summer preparing for the fall season, and according to Coach Mike Mashtare, the athletes are ready to race.
Mashtare challenged his team to follow a rigorous training plan, beginning on May 11th.
“Every kid from varsity to JV has been doing the challenge and recording their mileage,” Mashtare said.
Ethan Mashtare logged 650, and teammates and fellow juniors, Calvin Storms and Jacob Tremblay were both hot on his heels.
Not to be left out of the action, Coach Mashtare logged 400 miles himself over the summer.
Most summers, BFA runners attend a running camp in the NE Kingdom, but like many camps, it was canceled this summer due to COVID concerns.
Mashtare and a few parents put together a mini-camp to provide the athletes with a similar experience.
Ten athletes traveled to the Sterling Ridge Resort in Jeffersonville for four days of running and relaxation. New Balance runner and local athlete, Elle Purrier, joined the camp for a day.
“Elle spoke to the kids and took a run with them; they loved that,” said Mashtare.
Over the summer, Mashtare challenged the kids to create teams to run the length of the Rail Trail; four teams of athletes completed the challenge.
BFA runners took group runs at locations like Georgia Beach and Hard’ack, and some participated in co-ed relay teams.
“We’ve worked to keep our runners motivated and to give them some fun stuff to do,” said Mashtare.
“It’s been a good summer, and the kids have worked hard. I’m looking forward to seeing them on a regular basis.”
Mashtare noted that the athletes are also eager to get back to team practices.
“The isolation has been tough on the kids.”
Practices for the abbreviated 2020 fall season begin on September 8th when students return to school.
Mashtare and Champlain Valley Union cross country coach, Scott Bliss, have been communicating daily as they look into hosting meets and putting a schedule together.
As of press, BFA is tentatively scheduled to participate in six meets before the end-of-season state meet, and they will most likely host a home meet at Hard’ack.
“The kids will get to race and show off the hard work they’ve done this summer,” said Mashtare.
The BFA boys’ cross country team will be led by the one, two, three punch of Ethan Mashtare, Storms, and Tremblay.
This summer, Ethan time trialed a PR, running 16:45 in the 5k, which gives him the opportunity to be a top male runner in the state.
Four other varsity runners, two juniors and two freshman will round out the top seven.
Mashtare noted that there are a few senior boys who may work their way into the highly competitive top seven as the season progresses.
“We were consistently in the top of the state last year,” said Mashtare, “and the boys will once again be a team to watch.”
The BFA boys’ team managed a strong finish last season, even after a few of the athletes suffered nagging illnesses.
This season, the BFA boys will contend for a spot in the top five, along with Essex, St. Johnsbury, Burlington, and South Burlington.
“The CVU boys look pretty untouchable, as do their girls, but the battle for second through fifth should be interesting; we’ll all be chasing after the Red Storm,” said Mashtare.
Mashtare was pleased to announce that the BFA girls’ team would be stronger than the boys.
Last year, the BFA ladies beat St. Johnsbury head to head, but a combining of divisions gave St. J a two point lead, enough to edge BFA.
“That was not the way they expected to lose, but it lit a fire!” said Mashtare.
This year, the ladies picked up a new runner, Loghan Hughes.
“Loghan is running fast, and she will help us upfront; Lauren Kate Garceau is right on her heels. They ran a two-mile relay in just over 13 minutes. They’re going to lead the way for us to be in the front pack,” said Mashtare.
“Caitlyn Dasaro and her sister Ruby were also right there. Lydia Hodgeman and Cala Bourdeau, Quincy Fournier, Tara Ditch, and Iris Burns are all excellent.
“Our depth will be our strong point, just as it was last year. We have such a pack! There will not a lot of room for teams to get running between them.”
According to Mashtare, the BFA girls will contend with St. Johnsbury, Essed, and Burlington for a second through fifth spot at states.
“Once we start racing, we will see where everyone shakes out,” said Mashtare. “It should be a tight battle chasing CVU.”