Dylan Perry making his rounds at practice. Evan Wheaton/Malone Telegram

MALONE – In a world of uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 era, sports have been up in the air for several months.

With the first cross country meets of the year slated for Oct. 10, teams have been adjusting to the new guidelines and precautions given to them as they condition for the abbreviated season.

Having the knowledge of seasons being cut even shorter at any point in the event of a coronavirus case has left many student-athletes concerned about the longevity of their athletic year, but for Franklin Academy’s Dylan Perry, he’s trying to make the most of it.

“(Just) having a good time,” Perry said on what he’s trying to get out of the shortened season.

The senior is coming off a 2019 campaign that saw him named the Justin Casserly Most Valuable Runner. He was also one of the seven members of the Huskies who represented Section 10 at the last state championship.

Having secured the Class B crown, Franklin Academy will try to carry that momentum into the abbreviated season.

Huskies coach Matt Tessier, now in his 11th year at the helm of the program, has stressed the need to put their best feet forward.

“Kids all across the country are operating with totally different scenarios,” Tessier said. “I’m sure it’ll be competitive as it always is.”

COVID-19 caused Franklin Academy to go remote for the first two weeks of the school year. With classes being held in-person once more, many students have elected to stay full remote – Perry included.

Through fulfilling the remote physical education requirement, student-athletes can still compete in interscholastic athletics. Many schools in the North Country have thinned their rosters due to the circumstances of the coronavirus, but the Huskies are returning depth heading into the season.

“One of the things I think is helping us for this year is that we have a lot of dedicated guys and we have a group of 20. A couple of the teams that have had the numbers close to our numbers are only at 10,” Tessier said. “They have a lot of kids that decided to quit because they don’t want to wear masks (while running) or aren’t willing to adjust to the situation.”

Perry is making said adjustments.

“I try to get ahead of everyone so I can breathe,” Perry said. “You can take the mask off after you’re a far enough distance away so it’s not contagious or anything. So I just focus on doing that.”

The girls cross country team not only retained a deep roster, but also gained new runners. With the swim season floated to the spring, swimmers have stepped in for the Huskies.

“I think they’re just wanting to get out and do something,” girls cross country coach Chad Lawrence said. “Hopefully they’ll enjoy it and stick around.”

Lawrence has been coaching the girls cross country team for six years, and made it to states every season with individuals qualifying last year.

All meets will now be on Saturdays as opposed to Tuesday evenings. Without invitationals this year, every school district in the North Country will compete within-section.

Teams are in different areas in terms of conditioning for the season. Due to the quarantine and late start to the year, many high school sports rosters across the nation have student-athletes that are more in tune than others. There are, however, exceptions.

“There are some that are pretty hardcore that have been training all summer, so it’ll be easier for them,” Lawrence said.

Franklin Academy is hopeful to not only make it to the end of the season in a world of uncertainty with the virus, but to finish it strong.

Sectionals (three classes for boys and girls) will be combined with the interdivisional meet, which is traditionally held a week earlier at a different course. The meet, currently scheduled for Nov. 14, will now serve as both and the times from the combined races will determine the overall league champion. The interdivisionals also determine the 2020 All-NAC teams.

“We are having sectionals for cross country,” Tessier said. “Usually what we’ve done is everyone runs together, all the teams. We’re now dividing it by classes.

“The B schools will run their races and then those schools will leave. And then the C schools will get off their buses and come run then leave, then D schools will come and run. So we’ll basically have three meets going on here that day and everybody will be separated.”

In order to get to those sectionals yet again, the Huskies will have to get acclimated to a short season that consists of social distancing, mask-wearing and remote education.

“If we’re good with wearing the masks and doing the workouts we need to do, then we can move right back up,” Tessier said. “We’re going to try to get back to the top this year.”

The Franklin Academy boys and girls cross country teams are scheduled to host the first meets of the year on Oct. 10 at 9 a.m.

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