Berkshire County Alpine Skiing preview capsules, 2020
While Old Man Winter has been fickle to start the season, Berkshire County Alpine skiers are have been hard at work waiting for the first meet.
Race 1 of the league slate has now been postponed twice, but the teams from Lenox, Wahconah, Monument Mountain, Pittsfield and Taconic will eventually get onto the slopes at Bousquet.
There's a lot of intrigue entering 2020, with Berkshire County champions Tanner Hill and Abby Kate Caproni graduating, along with four of the top eight boys and girls from last year's All-Berkshire rosters.
The defending county champion Wahconah boys squad lost a ton of elite talent along with Hill, and also have a new coach in Jim Scalise heading up the program. Caproni is gone from the defending girls champion Lenox, but a boatload of experienced skiers remain in her wake.
There will be six Berkshire County League races, before the MIAA Alpine state championships held on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at Berkshire East Ski Area.
Coach: Greg Knight
Last Year: Boys, 2nd place; Girls, 1st place.
Key Returnees: Taylor Knight, Sr.; Helena Jankovic, 8th; Zach Suffish, Sr.; Max Digrigoli, Soph.
Outlook: Two-time Berkshire County champion Abby Kate Caproni has graduated, but the cupboard is far from bare with the Lenox program. On the girls side, coach Knight returns senior captain Taylor Knight and last season's individual runner-up Helena Jankovic to the defending league champs. Jankovic burst onto the scene with 93 points last year, landing only behind Caproni in the All-Berkshire race. Knight was a state qualifier as well, placing fifth in the Berkshires. There is a wealth of experience in the Millionaires' also, with junior Amy Alderton back after a pair of top-10 finishes last year. Senior Julia Haddad returns as well, alongside varsity starter Ella Hall, now an eighth grader. Sophomore Molly Knight and freshman Avery Manion could also see starts. On the boys side, state qualifier Max Digrigoli returns after placing fifth in the county with 83 points last winter. Senior Zach Suffish will lead the team with Digrigoli. Suffish rounded out his junior year in 10th. Lenox returns its top three from last season, with Noah Kirby entering his freshman season after scoring points in four races in eighth grade. Junior Dan Snow and eighth-grader Rocco Piretti also return with experience.
Coach: Jim Scalise
Last Year: Boys, 1st place; Girls, 3rd place.
Key Returnees: CeCelia Dunham, Sr.; Jack Perenick, Sr.; Dominic Scalise, Soph.
Outlook: The boys team at Wahconah has gone through an overhaul, with the departures of Berkshire County champion Tanner Hill and fellow graduates Kyle Brogan and Drew Dunham, who helped the team to a fifth-place finish in the state. The teams also have a new set of hands at the helm, as Jim Scalise takes over head coach duties. The boys and girls sides each have just one returning senior; Jack Perenick will captain the boys, while longtime veteran CeCe Dunham leads a thin girls side, which graduated state qualifier Danni Orlando. CeCe Dunham is no stranger to the big lights, though, having compete in the state meet in 2017 and 2018. She also had a pair of top-six finishes last season. Her and returning junior Kelly Anderson will compete largely as individuals to start the year with no other girls listed on the roster. On the boys side, sophomore Dominic Scalise and freshman Tommy Dunham return as varsity starters from the Berkshire champs last season. Scalise finished ninth overall as a freshman, while Tommy Dunham scored points in four races. The Warriors have a young crew of boys this year, with sophomore Brad Noyes, freshmen Alex Perenick and Levi Kelly-Smith, along with eighth graders Vincent Scalise, Mitchell Scalise, Alex Sternerup and Sach Sefchick. Coach Scalise has spent the last eight years involved with ski racing, serving as gatekeeper and a USSA certified referee. He takes over the program after achieving a USSA Level 100 coaches certification with the aid of assistant Frank Krol, and says the Alpine community has been very helpful overall.
Coach: Brian Seminara
Last Year: Boys, 3rd place; Girls, 2nd place.
Key Returnees: Paige Lussier, Soph.; Keegan Leach, Jr.
Outlook: Spartan standard bearers Carly Terranova and Ben Higa have moved on, but coach Seminara has another deep squad on both sides. The Monument Mountain girls boast a team that goes 16 deep, and features sophomore Paige Lussier, who placed fourth in the county last year, just two points behind Terranova. That crew is looking to punch a third-straight trip to the MIAA state meet, but will have to do so without Terranova and fellow graduate Sydney Ruggiero. It's a strong sophomore class that will try to regain the county crown from Lenox this winter, with Alice Pajeski, Abbey Boyd, Grace Swartout and Olivia Ruggiero joining classmate Lussier. Pajeski had three top-10s last year, while Boyd and Swartout also finished in the top 20 in the end-of-season standings. Lussier had a third and three fourths last year, and the lone returning skier who finished in front of her was Lenox's Helena Jankovic. On the boys side, Seminara's unit will benefit from the wealth of experience provided by junior captain Keegan Leach. Leach finished the league slate in sixth overall last winter, and made a third-straight trip to states. He is just part of a healthy junior class that will lead the Spartans into 2020. Joining him are classmates Andrew Churchill, Sam Schroeder and Colby Lederman. Chuchill was one spot outside the All-Berkshire scoring last winter in 13th, but owned two top-10 finishes. Schroeder and Lederman scored points in four races a piece. Seminara is also excited to see what rookie Julian Beadell can accomplish as a varsity skier.
Coach: Bob Geller
Last Year: Boys, 5th place; Girls, 4th place.
Key Returnees: Dakota Grosz, Jr.; Owen Gutzmer, Jr.
Outlook: It was a rebuilding year last winter for the Generals, but coach Geller's teams are rarely out of the running for Berkshire County long, and he returns a wealth of experience for 2020. A trio of junior captains lead both the girls and boys side, led by MIAA state qualifier Dakota Grosz. Grosz, along with Phoebe Whalen and Sasha Grosz will head up the girls squad that also returns sophomores Lena Ungewitter and Bella Penna. Dakota Grosz finished last season in seventh in the county standings, with one top-five finish and five top 10s. Whalen very nearly joined her at Wachusett after a strong finish, earning top-10 spots in each of the season's final three races to place 12th overall. Ungewitter was a top-20 skier last year in the Berkshires, as well. Geller says he's also intrigued by freshmen newcomers Charlotte Noyes and Allie Schnopp. The boys didn't have any state qualifiers a year ago, but the Generals are not short on experience in 2020. Owen Gutzmer is a multi-year varsity skier, and fellow tri-captains Liam Quadrozzi and Gavin Dawley are no strangers to the slopes. Gutzmer placed 12 in the Berkshires last season, with a pair of top 10s, while Quadrozzi scored points in three races. It's a deep group of freshmen skiers that should catch some eyes this winter, though. Aidan Coco, Ben Cornish, Keegan Crouse, Charlie Heimann and Mitchel Manning are looking to put PHS back on the Alpine map.
Coach: Marc Latimer
Last Year: Boys, 4th place; Girls, 5th place.
Key Returnees: Ethan Coe, Sr.; Andrew King, Jr.; Gianna Arace, Jr.
Outlook: Ethan Coe has been making tracks in Berkshire County for years, and he's back to captain the Braves for his senior campaign. Also back is budding star Andrew King, who placed third in the county last year as a sophomore. King took first prize in Race 4, and owned a pair of runner-ups to since-graduated Wahconah star Tanner Hill. King should battle for the county crown this winter, but the Braves are looking to beef up the depth to go with he and Coe to make some noise as a team. Coach Latimer goes 11 deep on the boys side, with three seniors and four juniors. Seniors Nick Soldato and Derek Wurtemberger will captain the squad with Coe, who made a return trip to states afer finishing seventh in the county in 2019. Now-junior Nick Slocik was the only other Taconic skier to score in more than one meet. Slocik and King are joined in the junior class by Brenden Scott and Jaden Ramella. Underclassmen Alex DiGrigoli, Alex Allessio, Owen Quadrozzi and Shamus Gaherty round out the roster. On the girls side, longtime leader Morgan Schnauber has graduated, leaving junior Gianna Arace as the captain and lone point-scorer from last year's team. Sophomore Reagan Miller skied varsity as a freshman, which is what now first-year Samantha Slocik will do for Latimer's girls team. Christine Hayes will also ski for Taconic.
Mike Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @CLNS_Walsh on Twitter and 413-496-6240.
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