WILLIAMSTOWN -- It's hard to say whether team or individual performance will be of more interest to coaches and fans at today's Berkshire County cross country championship meet.
The event is slated for Mount Greylock, with the junior varsity boys running at 10 a.m., the JV girls going at 10:40, the varsity boys at 11:20 and the varsity girls meet at noon.
The race is at Greylock, but the course itself will be a little longer than Greylock's usual four-kilometer route. For this race, the course will be stretched to a 5-K course.
"We added another kilometer to the course, behind our football field," said Greylock girls coach Larry Bell. "It's a lumpy, rough addition to the trail."
Bell explained that with the Western Massachusetts meet coming up in two weeks, instead of the usual one week, a longer race might benefit the runners. And the runners will still have two weeks to rest up for the next big race, he said.
The coaching consensus is that the Mounties' Emily Kaegi and Tucker McNinch of Lenox are the favorites today. Both runners are having very strong years for their respective teams.
"I would agree that Emily and Tucker have been the class of the county individually," said Bell.
But the team title is a little harder to call.
The Monument Mountain girls were undefeated going into their last meet, only to be upended by Pittsfield. The Greylock boys, who are still undefeated, seem to be the prohibitive favorites in that race -- but the Wahconah boys, who finished 13-1, with their only loss to the Mounties, may have a shot.
Bell believes the "displacement factor" is always key in close races of this nature.
"Which runner will displace an opponent, and cost a team points?" he said. "It's a factor sometimes, and one that's hard to predict."
"Right now, we just want to stay healthy," said Spartan girls coach Chris Unsworth. "I think our kids are competitive ad want to get better. So they're looking forward to [today's] race. They're excited to be pushed by some of the best runners in the county."
The Pittsfield girls, Monument's principal competitor, are once again on an upswing as the season ends. Pittsfield coach Theresa Apple's principal philosophy is to ensure that her team peaks for Western Mass.
"My goal is always Western Mass.," said Apple. "I have an end in sight, and it's that meet."
At the same time, Apple said she recognized that the meet will be important to county runners who are trying to improve their timeds.
"I recognize that," she said. "And I understand it. But they understand me, too."