Berkshire County League high school Nordic skiing preview
With the Nordic ski season set to get underway today, here is a look at how Berkshire County League teams stack up for the 2016 season.
Coaches: Nathanial Woodruff, Brett Marquard
Key Returnees: Willy Wright (So.), Kale Wenczel (Sr.), Ciaran Young (Sr.), Kendal Pittman (Jr.), Zofia Noble (Sr.)
Amherst had two solid squads last season, as the boys finished third in the state championship while the girls were fourth.
Willy Wright (16th at states), Kale Wenczel (22nd) and Ciaran Young (35th) all return to the boys team. They were part of eight Amherst boys skiers that finished in the top 60 at the state championship last season.
On the girls side, Amherst will have to replace its top three finishers from states as each graduated. Kendal Pittman (44th at states) and Zofia Noble (49th), among others, will help to fill the gap.
Coach: Alicia Gwozdz (12th year).
Key Returnees: Jared Haley (Sr.), Mitch Barnes (Jr.), Derek Koffi-Ziter (Jr.), Connor Pratt (Fr.), Allison Racela (So.), Jamie Barthe (Fr.), Mia Gale (Fr.), Suki Liang (Fr.)
Hoosac Valley heads into the 2016 campaign with 24 skiers.
Over half the current team (14 skiers) is new to the sport while the returning skiers all have two-plus years on snow.
Jared Haley, who finished 10th at last season's state championship, returns for his senior season. On the girls side, Jamie Barthe is in the top slot.
Coaches: Joe Bazzano, Kyle Zinchuk, Luke Kaplin, Patty Spector, Gary Miller
Key Returnees: Alice Huth (Jr.), Emma Jourdain (Jr.), Grace Ellrodt (Sr.), Lauren Gamache (Fr.), Marion Huth (Fr.), Renee Carotenuto (Sr.), Miles Marshall (Jr.), Joey Bouvier (Jr.), Henrik Palmer (Sr.), Harry Burns (So.)
The Lenox boys and girls are both coming off of solid finishes at the state championship last season, where the boys were fifth overall and the girls were 12th.
Alice Huth was 10th overall at the state race while Emma Jourdain, who was sidelined most of last season with a back injury, returns.
Grace Ellrodt had a solid fall season running cross country while Lauren Gamache and Marion Huth are two freshmen in their second seasons on the team.
On the boys side, Miles Marshall, Joey Bouvier and Henrik Palmer all return to a deep squad. Chas Novitsky and Noah Kalischer-Coggins both missed the 2014-15 campaign, but they're back on the team this season.
Coach: Peter Rayton (ninth year)
Key Returnees: Aiden Sandvik (Jr.), Alex Purington (Sr.), Sarah Gokey (Jr.), Madison Boucias (Sr.) , Lilly Wells (So.)
Mohawk will have several key returnees this season, including skiers that have been on the squad since seventh grade in Sarah Gokey and Aiden Sandvik.
Gokey finished in 19th place in last season's girls state championship race while Sandvik was 31st in the boys race.
In addition to the returning skiers, newcomer Clarissa Pollard is a skier that the coaching staff has high hopes for.
Girls Coach: Hilary Greene, (16th year)
Boys Coach: Hiram Greene, (26th year)
Key Returnees: Matt Wiseman (Sr.), Ian Culnane (Sr.), Tommy Kirby (Sr.), Cameron Castonguay (Jr.), Grace Smith (Sr.), Sophie Gerry (Sr.), Greta Savitsky (Sr.), Margo Smith (Fr.), Emma Palumbo (So.), Ellie Williams (Sr.), Niku Darafshi (Jr.), Brandi Gill (eighth grade), Cat Cavalli (Jr.)
The boys team is coming off of its fifth-straight state championship while the girls team finished as state runner-up last season.
Five top skiers will not return from last year's boys team, but several returnees are ready to step in. There are 52 boys on the team this year, meaning the squad will have great depth and can likely look forward to a solid future.
For the girls, all eight skiers from last year's varsity roster return, including six All-Berkshire selections. The girls team has 40 skiers this season, including many newcomers.
Ian Culnane, Matt Wiseman and Grace Smith should all be in the running for league MVP when the season comes to a close.
Northfield Mount Hermon
Coaches: Stephen Allison (10th year), Julia Kameron (fifth year), Forest Reid (fourth year), Tim Relyea (second year)
Key Returnees: Estevan Velez (Sr.), Tobey Weed (Jr.), Rye Buckley (Sr.), Patterson Malcolm (Jr.), Kent Yoshikawa (Fr.), Nevada Powers (Jr.), Eve Pomazi (Jr.) Susannah Lickus (Sr.), Josie Weil (Jr.)
Northfield Mount Hermon returns a lot of solid talent, including returnees Estevan Velez and Tobey Weed.
In addition to those two skiers, Rye Buckley, Patterson Malcolm and Kent Yoshikawa each should contribute on the boys side.
For the girls, senior Susannah Lickus in addition to a trio of juniors (Nevada Powers Eve Pomazi and Josie Weil) should lead the way.
Coaches: John Mudano, Catherine Robbins
Key Returnees: James Wallace (Sr.), Peter Constantin (Sr.), Josh Hollis (Sr.), Gabby Klein (Sr.), Dillon Hermsen (Jr.), Katrina Cirilli (Jr.), Janina Szczepanski (So.), Claire Harper (So.)
Simsbury lost about a dozen seniors from last season, but the returning seniors, juniors and sophomores will help to fill the void.
The squad is comprised of 28 skiers, a smaller group than usual for Simsbury, and about half of the team is new. Fourteen skiers on the team are made up of freshmen and sophomores.
Coach: Stephanie Ambrose (fourth year)
Key Returnees: Noah Shepardson, Nikolai Pixley, Trevor Pelkey, Karli Manship, Mary Hayes, Rachel Tynan
The Taconic ski team will be led this season by captains Nikolai Pixley and Karli Manship.
Key returnees include Noah Shepardson, Pixley and Trevor Pelkey on the boys side. All three registered top-100 finishes in last season's state championship race. In addition, Ryan Serre should be a skier to watch for the Braves.
For the girls, Manship, Mary Hayes and Rachel Tynan return while newcomers Jamie McMahon, Lexie Mazzeo and Alyssa Puntin should also contribute.
Coaches: Kiersten Touponce (sixth year), Ryan Touponce (assistant, sixth year)
Key Returnees: Sam Pyser (Jr.), Quincy Heon (Sr.), Mike Hruby (Sr.), Sean Harvey (Jr.), Lily Howes (Sr.), Ella Sears (Sr.)
The boys team will be mostly returning skiers in 2016. On the girls side, it will be a mix of veterans and newcomers, as there are large numbers of seniors and freshmen.
Some notable finishes from last season's state meet include Sam Pyser (27th) and Mike Hruby (54th) on the boys side and Lily Howes (23rd) for the girls.
Other boys to watch include Quincy Heon, who consistently moved up in the results throughout last season. Also, Sean Harvey missed much of last season with an injury, but he'll be back as a potential top finisher.
For the girls, Ella Sears is back and healthy and will be a leading scorer for the team. Some other senior skiers include Asi Graham, Belle Hauge, Erica Perrea and Kathryn Wells.
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