Team: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake
Analysis: The Burnt Hills guys squad will be in a tough battle throughout the year for title of best team in New York with the guys from Fayetteville-Manlius; and we might not get to see the match up until the NXN New York Region meet. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake is in Class B in New York while Fayetteville-Manlius is in Class A. Nonetheless Burnt Hills should still be on everyone's radar as a top team to watch this season. The Spartan's return six of their top seven from their Class B state championship squad that scored only 25 points to win the title.
We had Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School head coach Chip Button answer some questions for us about the season and his team.
How long have you been a Coach? How many of those years have been at your current school?
I began coaching in 1982 as an Outdoor Track assistant at Monticello, NY. After six years there I got a job teaching at Burnt Hills - Ballston Lake HS in 1987 and started that winter as an Indoor Track assistant coach. In the fall of 1991, I became the Head Coach for the combined Boys' and Girls' Cross Country team. They became separate programs in 1997. I became the Head Indoor Track Coach in 1996 and the Boys' Head Outdoor track Coach in 2002 after twelve years as an Assistant Coach. This will be my 28th year as the BH-BL Cross Country Coach.
What is your meet schedule this fall?
We have five dual in the Suburban Council on successive Tuesdays in September and October. We have a couple of low key Invitationals in early September - Sat. September 1 Fonda-Fultonville Invitational - Sat. September 8 Guilderland Invitational.
The remainder of our schedule: Sat. September 22 Baldwinsville X-C Invitational (Syracuse)
Sat. September 30 McQuaid X-C Invitational (Rochester)
Sat. October 13 Burnt Hills X-C Invitational
Sat. October 27 Suburban Council Championships
Fri. November 2 Section 2 X-C Championships - Class B
Sat. November 10 NYS Cross Country Championships
Sat. November 17 NYS Federation X-C Championships
Sat. November 24 New York Nike Cross Country Regionals
How has summer training gone for your team? What do you focus on during the summer months?
We had a very good summer of running for the majority of the team throughout July and August. It's organized by the seniors and concentrates on distance with the guys meeting five or six days a week.
Which athletes do you see as the probable top five this season?
Based on the last few seasons of Cross Country and Track (both Indoor and Outdoors), our top five should be Tyler Berg, Aidan Gillooley, Evan Brennan, David Metacarpa, and Nick Hunziker.
Who are your team captains or leaders and what stands out about them as examples for the rest of their teammates?
There are four seniors - Tyler Berg, Evan Brennan, Aidan Gillooley, Nick Hunziker - who have been the core of our team's scoring for the last three years, since they were ninth graders. They each began running for BH at different points of their seventh grade or eighth grade years. They have each run every season of Cross Country, Indoor Track, and Outdoor Track since their first season with the exception of Aidan who played lacrosse his seventh grade year. Their Freshman year, we finished third at States with three of them running. Tyler Berg would have but injured himself in one of our last meets. They have each played major roles in our State Championships in 2016 and 2017 along with our Federation win this past year. Their experience and approach to running and racing is what truly sets them apart from previous BH teams. They set a tremendous example for the rest of the team but particularly for the younger guys. Their performance at Outdoor Nationals, 2nd in the 4 X Mile, is a perfect example. Their trip was put together and managed by them.
Who are some new faces who will make an impact on your team this year (i.e. freshmen, transfers, runners who have improved a lot)?
While the five guys mentioned have established themselves, there are five other runners who should vie for the remaining places in the top 7. They are senior Ryan Sheppard along with juniors, Kevin Board, Dante Ubriaco, Mikhail Troyan, and Zackary Scribner
What are some staple workouts your team does during the season?
There are a series of workouts that we've used both in Cross Country and Track that have proved to benefit us out a great deal. In Cross Country, we start out with them in August and then repeat them in early October. They are 3 x 2000m, 2 x 3000m and 6 x 1000m.
What will be the biggest reason why your team is successful this season?
Over the years, we've had some success, mostly at the Sectional and State level. In 2009, particularly, we were able to put to it all together and make the jump, qualifying for Nationals. While there are some similarity between then and now, what sets the current team apart is how they approach everything they do. So much of what we've accomplished is driven by them. They know exactly what we've done in prior workouts and are constantly making the effort to exceed what's been done in the past. They truly set our agenda.
What will be the biggest obstacle or challenge facing your team this season?
While we have some depth, there is still a gap after the top 5 guys. The next five will all improve over the course of the season but staying healthy is the one thing that must happen for us to meet all of our goals. When it comes to the end of the season, we can't afford to have any of our top guys missing.
How would you describe your team's culture?
While I'm obviously a piece of the culture, our culture is defined not only by the guys on the team but even more by the guys who have come before them. I asked the four seniors mentioned above for their description of what our team culture is and have combined their descriptions into a compilation of their thoughts. Their words not mine -
"The best way to describe this team is a quirky but dedicated family. It's unique. From warm-up to cool-down you will find traditions dating back decades taking place. Each year certain ideas and traditions are added, continuing to expand the team's culture. This culture was not started by us / this year's team, it is instilled in the blood of each member of Deluge XC as it is passed down from generation to generation. At practice you can be assured of a fun experience every day while still concentrating on improving in the sport, there's always positivity brewing in the air. Aside from our constant antics, every member of Deluge XC knows that their accomplishments, no matter how big or small, will be celebrated by each and every member of the team. Burnt Hills XC maintains a cheerful atmosphere during practice - only to submerge it's opponents in a deluge on the XC course. Deluge XC!"
What are your top three goals for the team this fall?
Our goals for this season begin with our winning our 20th Section 2 Championship. In NY, there is no State Championship without a win. Secondly, we return to Sunken Meadow with the goal to win our third straight NYS Class B State Championship. Finally, for our third goal, to finish in the top 2 at the New York NXRs and qualify for NXNs.