Runners halted in their tracks

Franklin Academy’s Dylan Perry approaching the finish line at Crowner Field. Evan Wheaton/Malone Telegram

MALONE — Cross country teams in Franklin County saw their seasons cut short last Monday, just five days out from what would have been the interdivisional and sectional meet today.

Rather than playing host to multiple schools and competing for titles, Franklin Academy will have no athletic activity on its campus after switching to remote learning.

“I expected it to happen eventually. Not the last meet, but I thought it was going to happen in the middle of it,” senior Dylan Perry said.

Perry has enjoyed a successful career with the Huskies, and one last meet would have been the proper bookend to the student-athlete’s career.

“The championship would have been a chance for redemption for Dylan and a few guys to challenge for an All-Northern spot, but in the interest of safety, I think it was a wise decision,” Franklin Academy cross country coach Matt Tessier said.

With a cross country championship out of the question, Norwood-Norfolk played host to Canton, Potsdam and Clifton-Fine Friday.

Perry didn’t run in Franklin Academy’s dual meet against Massena. Tessier — knowing he’d pick up team wins against incomplete Red Raider teams — wanted to give runners a chance to race that have only run in one or fewer meets.

Although he’s disappointed, Perry didn’t believe his personal time would fare well in the championship. While soccer players may have adapted to wearing masks during play and getting time on the bench and up to two mask breaks, it’s been a harsher adjustment for cross country to run two laps with a face covering.

“I did not like it, and I thought about quitting,” Perry said. “But I didn’t, and I just toughed it out. But the time just kept getting slower because it really does create breathing problems.”

Section coaches are currently determining All-Northern and end-of-season awards.

The Huskies are hopeful —much like the rest of the world — that the virus will be gone before it’s time to lace up for another cross country season in 2021.

“We will look ahead to next year and hope for a healthy season,” Tessier said. “My guys ran great and we had more to accomplish, but if they stay in shape our next season, maybe outdoor track, we’ll be the team to beat.”

Perry always knew he wanted to run cross country in college, but the future is murky with COVID-19 gripping the sports world. He doesn’t want to have to compete in meets while struggling to breathe, though he hasn’t ruled out stepping away from the sport.

“Cross country was very awesome in the years without the masks and the pandemic, and I really appreciate doing it,” Perry said. “And I hope I can be able to do it through college and have that same experience like I did in high school.”

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