MANCHESTER - In their first meet at Rutland, the Burr and Burton Academy Cross Country team placed third overall.

Both the boys and girls teams finished behind Mount Anthony Union High School and Rutland - who took first and second, respectively, for both boys and girls.

Lauren Miskovsky placed second among the girls with a time of 23:26. BBA's Thomas Kittross placed eighth out of the boys with a time of 20:07 - just 1:37 off from the winner of the race - and Simon Aborn finished 10th with a time of 20:25.

Coming into the season, coaches Sandy Birch and Heidi Welch have lofty aspirations for this year's team.

"Our motto this year is journeying toward the banner," said Birch.

Burr and Burton Academy Cross Country Coach Sandy Birch and members of the team pose for a picture after completing a 10 mile run during preseason. The run
Burr and Burton Academy Cross Country Coach Sandy Birch and members of the team pose for a picture after completing a 10 mile run during preseason. The run was the longest ever for many of the students. (Courtesy photo)
"Why not go for states and it's all about the journey towards it that's going to be the most rewarding; pushing ourselves to the limit."

Not only do Birch and Welch believe that the team can perform well this year, but they also have high expectations for their two top runners - Miskovsky and Kittross.

"I think Lauren and Thomas have a real shot at doing something phenomenal at the states," said Birch.

Miskovsky replaces Abby Lord - who graduated last year - as the top runner on the girls team while Kittross is reprising the role in this his senior season.

While Miskovsky is expected to be the girls leading runner, seniors Abigail Stalcup and Amanda Mulroy - who is new to the team this year - are also expected to be significant contributors.

On the boys side, Aborn and juniors Eric Owen, Sam Silsby and Ike Pritchard will help anchor this year's team.

Although many runners, Birch said the majority of the varsity spots will be filled by those students who trained hard over the summer. Of the 42 runners that the team has, there are about 25 that are in really good shape at the start of the season.

"Half of them, you know, definitely you can tell trained over the summer, were prepared, continued and some kind of came in and are starting fresh," said Welch.

Each June Birch sends out a conditioning schedule to their runners and she and Welch check in with them throughout the summer. Ultimately, Birch said the goal is to have the students show up in good condition.

"We're committed to getting kids to understand coming into the season having run all summer is the only way to do it," said Birch.

Although some kids might be in the process of reconditioning, there are seven kids from the team this year that plan to participate in the Maple Leaf Half Marathon this weekend - something that Birch said she only sees as a positive.

"We have a bunch of new kids who are doing it and it's great training coming into the season," she said.

Going into the half marathon, Birch said that she is not worried about her runners getting injured because she knows they have done the necessary training to complete the course.

Birch said she and Welch are also encouraging runners to participate in the Komen Race for the Cure. She and Welch have a connection to a person who has struggled with breast cancer and because of that, she has created a team that will participate in the race on Sept. 21 called BBA Cross Country. Birch said her goal was for most of the cross country runners to join her team to be able to "give back." As of press time, Birch said the team had raised $1,825 in two weeks.

BBA's next meet is at Mount Anthony Union High School on Sept. 10 at 4:30 p.m. Their home meet is scheduled for Oct. 8.

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