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Canton cross country runners moving up the ranks

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CANTON — How do you jump up eight spots in the state rankings in a sport in just one week?

For the Canton girls cross country team the answer was to place first out of 21 teams at the prestigious McQuaid Invitational last Saturday morning in Rochester.

Canton was ranked 14th in Class B before the meet, and this week the Golden Bears find themselves No. 6.

“I don’t put a lot of stock in that,” Canton coach Tom Vandewater said of the ranking. “I think the girls are realistic to know there are a lot of very fast teams out there. Rankings are nice, but you have to put your foot on the line and run well.”

Canton has historically had good boys and girls cross country teams. But until Saturday the girls team had never finished first at a big invitational.

Canton had three runners in the top 20 and finished with 94 points, seven ahead of Maple Grove.

Junior Laura Pierce led the Golden Bears, finishing fifth overall and running the 3-mile course in 18 minutes, 9 seconds.

“It was our first big invitational, so it was just getting out there and seeing what we can do,” Pierce said. “Now we can come back and get some work in before the next big one, next weekend at Burnt Hills.”

Canton finished sixth at the state meet last fall and returned all of its top five runners, so there were some high expectations heading into this season. But the win at the McQuaid Invitational caused the team to make the goals even higher.

“We want to do really well at states and maybe qualify for (the Federation race),” said Canton’s Maria Ricaton, who finished 11th on Saturday. “That helps us get in that direction. We’re definitely a lot more confident now, knowing we have that win under our belt. We haven’t gone to any big meets out of our section, so that definitely helped with all the extra competition and more people.” If anything, the confidence the team gained from its showing is what may prove to be more valuable, even more than the new trophy on display in a case outside the basketball gymnasium.

“I think it alerts them to what they can do at the state level,” Vandewater said. “They are definitely inspired. It’s been just nice for them as a group. They work together really well. I think they have all reached that level where they inspire each other and it does give them that confidence to say they can run with anybody.”

Said Pierce, “Last year we thought we might have a chance (at the state meet). This year, with everyone a year more developed, with all that experience, I think we’re trying for that. Saturday was a good show of what we can do.”

FIT TO BE TIED

The first half of the season in the Northern Athletic Conference Central Division boys soccer race has been crazy as five teams were within two points of each other after Tuesday’s games.

Potsdam (4-1-1 division) and Canton (3-1-3) lead with nine points, but OFA (3-1-2) and Massena (2-1-4) are just one point back and Malone (3-1-1), which has played fewer games than all the others, is just two points back.

Not only are the standings close, but as the records show, there have been several tie games among the teams this season and many of those have been scoreless ties.

“Usually it’s pretty tight,” Massena coach Pat Henrie said of the division. “Every game you play you have to go to work and be ready. There’s no time off.”

BEAVERs TO UNVEIL MONUMENT

The Beaver River Cross Country Alumni Group will dedicate a new program monument on Friday, ahead of the school’s homecoming weekend and Saturday’s Beaver River Invitational.

The unveiling is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the boulder is located along the densely wooded running trails behind the athletic fields.

The boulder, an idea of alumnus Matt Lyndaker and former runner/coach Al Barrett, is a way for the program to acknowledge the support it has received from school and community over the years.

Currently engraved in the boulder are the program’s logo and the message “Beaver River Cross Country. A commitment to excellence. Past Present Future.” The hope is that eventually, deceased program alumni can have their names inscribed by their families.

Times sportswriter Cap Carey can be reached at ccarey@wdt.net. Times sportswriter Josh St.Croix contributed to this report.

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