DALTON -- The last time a Wahconah boys cross country team reached the MIAA state meet, none of the current Warriors were born.
That's what makes the streak this group is on much more special. Wahconah lost its first meet of the season on Wednesday, a 3-point decision at the hands of undefeated Mount Greylock. But that didn't derail the plans of second-year coach Tom Keefe and his team.
Just ask any Wahconah runner about the plan, and they'll tell you they are in this position because they're just following Keefe's blueprint.
"I expected [to do well] because he told me we would," said Jackson Alberti. "He knows what he's doing."
"I knew because of last year and the results we had," said Marcus Duncan. "He said that this year we were going to be even better."
The Warriors hadn't taken a team to the state meet since 1994 and were 9-0 for the first time since that same year. While the Warriors dropped a 26-29 decision to Mount Greylock on Wednesday, it doesn't lessen what Keefe and his athletes have accomplished.
"The one thing I'd say they remember the most is trust the program and trust the plan," Keefe said before Wednesday's race. "Know that when they need to be fast, they'll be fast as long as they put in the work."
That work started at the end of the last school year. Keefe said he gave his runners a definite plan to work, run and prepare themselves for the start of the fall season.
Wahconah's coach said that running in the summer was critical because he said a team can only do so much without "a big base of miles." Runners risk burnout or injury trying to catch up.
Running during the season to practice and prepare for cross country meets isn't the most difficult thing. After all, the runners gather right after school and get to practice. But in the summer, it can be different. Summer jobs and vacations can come into play.
"It's had sometimes to just stay motivated, really," said Alberti. "Coach Keefe gave us the plan and we followed it."
Duncan, a senior like Alberti, did say that getting the team members to work out together made those summertime runs, well not easier, but certainly less stressful. Doing the work in a group is far more pleasant than doing it alone.
And it helps to have a new runner in the mix. Enter junior Eric Klem.
Klem, who is a top miler on the Wahconah track team, had been playing soccer. He said he made the decision during the track season.
"I figured it would be a better investment of my time," he said. "It was a really tough decision. Once I'm out here, there's no way I could give this up."
The Warriors are two-time South Division champions. While Keefe and his athletes are pleased to be champions, the drop into the South rubbed them the wrong way.
"We didn't feel like we belonged in the South. That's motivation," said the coach. "It was a little fuel for the fire, a little motivation for the boys to prove something."
Last year, Keefe set a goal for the Warriors of making the state Division I tournament, but the Warriors didn't qualify.
"It doesn't really get brought up that much," said Klem. "We sort of focus on the race at hand. It's always a goal in the back of our minds."
The Western Massachusetts cross country championships are Nov. 9 in Northfield, and the state championships are a week later in Gardner.
"We have a couple of goals. One of them is to make states as a team out of Division I," said Keefe. "We're the smallest school in Division I. That's our goal, to go to Western Mass. Division I, go on the podium and go to states as a team."
So far, the plan has worked out pretty well.
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On Twitter: @howardherman.