WINDSOR -- Reloaded for a repeat.
That's what the Mount Greylock boys Nordic ski team is hoping they are, anyway. Today, they'll get a shot to claim their second straight MIAA state championship.
"It's always one of our season goals as a team to win the state championship," said Jake Foehl, who was on last year's championship team. "Right now [Saturday], our thoughts are eat well today, get some confidence going into Tuesday and hopefully we can all [have our] best races of the season to close it out."
The girls race begins at 10:30 a.m., with the boys race beginning at noon.
The Mounties will certainly have an advantage over their competition from Eastern Massachusetts, considering Saturday's race at Notchview Reservation was based off the state course. Knowing as much, Greylock coach Hiram Greene still isn't about to guarantee anything.
"Competition down east is pretty tight this year," he said. "I think we have a shot at states, but it's not a lock. In past years, we were very confident. I'm cautiously optimistic because there's some competition down there that's there."
This team has a decidedly different feel to it -- youth.
The 2013 championship team had plenty of senior leadership at the front to carry it through. This year's top four skiers are a mix of juniors and sophomores.
"I think this year's team can do exactly what last year's team did," Foehl said. "I think we've all gotten so much better and improved so much that we can just, not replace, but we can reload, basically.
One of those new faces helping the push for two state titles in a row is Ian Culnane. He was an alternate on last year's team, the ninth man (each team can ski up to eight people). Now he gets his turn to shine, or so he hopes.
He hasn't skied much in the past few weeks because of a vitamin deficiency. But he was on the course Saturday, though, and finished fifth overall (second on the team).
"It's a little bit nerve-wracking, but at the same time it's really exciting," he said of competing in his first state meet. "I'm just stoked to be out here and, doing a course preview, today's really been great.
"Racing this three days before states gives you a good mental advantage. Doing well today would definitely help that. If you feel good, you know the course, you can know what to do at each spot. Overall, it's just a reassuring experience."
Reassuring for sure. Other members of the team also talked about how they plan to integrate the knowledge they gained from Saturday's race into their attempt to defend last year's title.
Matt Wiseman, who finished third overall Saturday (first on the team), saw how another skier was able to pull away from him midway through the race.
"I can just decide where to go harder," he said. "I probably would take this beginning a little easier so I have more for Staircase and Shaw [trails], pick up a little more time there."
To reach Josh Colligan:
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