SARANAC LAKE - Both the girls and boys Saranac Lake cross country teams graduated key seniors last year, providing opportunities for some of the younger runners to step up and compete.
The boys team graduated standout Dylan Dawson, one of the best runners in Section VII, and the girls team lost Kendra Leonidas, Julia Bowler, Geanette Orton and Andrea Nye. Those four had been together all through high school.
While last year's girls team was heavy on seniors, this one will be filled with juniors. The Red Storm feature six juniors, including Elena Beideck.
The Saranac Lake boys and girls teams practice at Dewey Mountain.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
Last season, Beideck was the Red Storm's top runner, claiming a third-place finish in the Section VII individual championships.
She'll be complemented by fellow juniors Camryn Lieb, Kaileigh Woodruff, Katie Buck, Sierra Nye and Zoe Tyler.
Because the team lost so many seniors to graduation, coach Randy Young said he's not sure how the squad will shape up behind Beideck and Grace Sullivan, a sophomore who performed well last season.
Nathan Miller Will Lanthier
"It's really hard to say. We have so many unknowns," Young said. "We have Elena running up front. Grace coming off that good year. After that, I don't know. They've got big shoes to fill."
Both the boys and girls teams won sectional titles last season, although the boys did so after not having a strong regular season as a team.
On the boys side, the team is loaded with freshmen. Evan Greenberg, Haakon Pedersen, Max Paul, Nathan Miller and Will Lanthier are all ninth graders. The boys side will only feature two upperclassmen, Chris Willette and Evan Klein.
"We've got a big nucleus of kids. They are coming back better prepared than they have in the past, but they are younger and that's going to be the difference," Young said. "Before they were kind of in the limelight of the others. Now, it's their game. It's their race to win on both teams."