LAKE GEORGE - In only two years at the helm, Lake George Cross-Country Coach Scott Smith has established a remarkable legacy of winning.
In 2008, the girls team won the Adirondack League Championship and Section II title, and in 2009, the boys squad won the crown.
This year, the tradition is bound to continue.
Although Steve Petramale - a top runner in the state -graduated in 2009, his outstanding teammate Willy Underwood returns for another season.
Last year, Underwood secured second place in the Adirondack League championships, then finished third in the Sectional competition, but proved the depth of his talent weeks later by placing fifth in the state championship tourney, Smith said.
"Willy beat the best in the area, and we're very excited about his prospects this year," he said.
The bright outlook prevails for the Lake George Girls Cross-Country team as well. Returning to the squad for 2010 is two-time Adirondack League individual champion Kacey O'Brien, a Senior.
In 2009, she finished in Sectionals just a few places short of qualifying for the state championship meet.
O'Brien, a co-captain along with Courtney Mastrodomenico, will be leading their squad, Smith said.
"Hopefully we'll have a very strong year for O'Brien and the other Seniors to finish out their careers," Smith said.
On the boys team, Sophomore Dan Jardine shows promise, Coach Smith said. Senior Corey Tomko, a team captain, has demonstrated both tremendous improvement and extraordinary leadership skills, Smith said.
Although the team annually snags headlines, one of the guiding philosophies of the lake George Cross-Country program is that achieving one's own individual goals is as highly valued as winning the glory titles, Smith said.
The team welcomes runners of all shapes and sizes, and some are championship material, and others have a goal of finishing a race. All are encouraged and mentored to do their best, regardless of their physical profile or innate potential, Smith said.
"We seek to have all perform well," Smith said, praising the veteran team members for mentoring the less experienced and younger runners. The team has both girls and boys representing each high school grade, 7 through 12.
Underwood, Tomko, O'Brien, Mastrodomenico and the other veterans look after the younger set, Smith said.
"They're all very encouraging to all runners, regardless of their ability," Smith said. "We have a family atmosphere."
Lake George Central
2010 Varsity Cross-Country schedule
Sept. 14 Pre-Season Invitational Qsby.
Sept. 21 Whitehall, Fort Ann Home
Sept. 28 Corinth Central Away
Oct. 5 Johnsburg, Argyle Home
Oct. 12 Hadley/Luzerne, No. Warren Away
Oct. 19 Whitehall, Ft. Ann, Jhnsburg Away
Oct. 21 League Championships at Queensbury
Nov. 5 Sectionals at Saratoga Spa Park