Area runners ready for state championships

QUEENSBURY – Two area cross-country programs will be represented at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships at Queensbury High School on Saturday.

The Broadalbin-Perth girls team earned a trip to the state meet by winning the Class C race at the Section II Championships on Nov. 1. Greg Bogdan, also running for Broadalbin-Perth, solidified his trip to the state meet with a fourth-place finish in the boys Class C race. Jordan Ahrens finished second in that race and will represent Canajoharie-Fort Plain in Queensbury.

Ahrens is the first C-FP boy to qualify for the state meet since 2005. According to coach Charlie Karker, three boys would have qualified for the state meet if C-FP were a Class D school. Canajoharie and Fort Plain were separate Class D programs before the program merger bumped them up to Class C.

“It’s good, at least for Fort Plain,” Karker said of Ahrens’ state meet berth. “The Canajoharie kids are very supportive, the few that we have on the team.”

Karker hopes to recruit more Canajoharie runners for the 2014 season.

Speaking about Ahrens’ expectations for the meet, Karker joked that the goal was to run fast and get home early.

“My expectation is that he can run with the top 15-20 kids that are in the Class C race in the state,” said Karker. “His training and his last few races have been very good. We think he’s peaking at the right time.”

Ahrens qualified for the state meet with a time of 16:26.43 on the same course he will be navigating tomorrow. Karker thinks 16:20 would be a good time if the weather were clear.

“He’s kind of relentless,” said Karker. “He always wants to do better.”

Bogdan finished the Class C race at the Section II Championships in 16:48.82 and will be making his third trip to the state meet. Bogdan, a senior, also made the trip as a freshman and a junior. Bogdan’s past success at the state meet should give him an edge over younger, inexperienced runners.

“I think it’s big for him that he’s been there before,” said Broadalbin-Perth coach Jeff Richards. “A lot of our kids, when they go to the state meet for the first time, are a little bit excited, nervous and so forth.”

After finishing 34th at the state meet in 2012, Bogdan has his eye on a podium spot in 2013.

“Each year he’s gotten progressively better,” Richards said. “His whole goal going into this season was he wanted to finish top 20, which gets him a podium spot. I actually think he will be on the podium and that will be our first boy on the podium in quite some time.”

Bogdan will not be without the Broadalbin-Perth girls team, which is making its return to the state meet after a two-year absence.

“The last few years weren’t bad years but they weren’t at the level we had become accustomed to,” said Richards. “Our goal obviously this season was to get back to states and we kind of used that as a motivational tool.”

Only one current runner, Victoria Opalka, was on the 2010 team that went to the state meet.

While Richards acknowledges that his team doesn’t feature a runner that’s going to finish in the top 10 overall, he feels that they will be successful if they can run in a pack in the 15-25 range. They will head into the meet ranked fifth in the state, but are eager to prove that they are among the best Broadalbin-Perth has ever had.

“Our best showing ever at states is fifth, so we want to show that we’re better than fifth,” said Richards.”

This will be the third time this season that the girls run on Queensbury’s course. The team improved their average time by 40 seconds from the Queensbury Invitational early in the season to the Section II Championships last week, a trend they will look to continue tomorrow.

The Class C boys race is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., with the Class C girls race going off at 10:40 a.m.

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