Staples ski teams ready for postseason
Published 12:46 pm, Friday, February 19, 2016
The best sports team at Staples this winter doesn’t shoot a basketball or fire a puck on net. Instead, it’s a group of talented skiers who are in the midst of perfect seasons.
Both the boys and girls ski teams sit undefeated with the regular season winding down and will be in contention to claim championships when State Open arrives in early March. Though the meets so far have been against several squads missing players and the more talented teams lay ahead, both teams are confident they are title contenders.
Last season the boys team ran through the regular season at 26-0. However when the State Open rolled around, the Wreckers had to watch as rival Greenwich emerged from a tight pack of schools to claim the title.
“I think it disappointed them a lot,” said boys coach Courtney Ruggiero. “We knew what were in for and it wasn’t going to be easy. I think the guys are really team-orientated; it’s an individual sport but when a guy finishes they’re asking how the team is doing.”
Senior Campbell Ashman has long been the team’s top skier, but this year he has become more of a leader according to Ruggiero. He has yet to finalize his college plans but has been one of the top performers in the state since joining the team.
“I think he’s been a great presence on the hill for the other guys,” Ruggiero said. “That’s been a great thing to see from him; turning into a great leader in addition to continue being a successful skier.”
Burke Anvari, Nate Fanning and Ben Friedman anchor a group that enhances Staples’ biggest attribute: it’s depth. On any given day a number of athletes can break into the top six times that are taken into consideration for team times.
“Just like every year we’ve had great depth to our team,” Ruggiero said. “As opposed to having pretty good depth; we have 10 great guys who on any given night can finish in the top six.”
The girls team has already gotten contributions from a variety of skiers, too. Sophomore Sofia Gerrard placed 12th at the State Open last year and has picked up right where she left off this winter. At the Wreckers’ last race Feb. 10th, she took first place in a field of 97 racers.
“That was great; she was super excited,” said girls coach Rebecca Anderson-Furlong said. “She has a natural ability to find a strong line and she also listens any kind of suggestion from the coaches. She’s constantly trying to improve.”
“It’s been so far so good,” Anderson-Furlong said. “We’ve been strong and undefeated so far and we’ve had some really strong freshman come in; that’s nice to see.”
The start of the 2016 season was pushed back several weeks due to a lack of snow at Mt. Southington, forcing teams to participate in a number of races in a relatively short time. The Wreckers have several big meets late in the month before the Class L and State Open meets. It also meant athletes were unable to compete in time trials until after the New Year, more than six weeks after the winter season began.
Both programs are in strong shape as numbers continue to grow. Athletes gain experience by skiing at resorts in New England on the weekends as middle schoolers and arrive at Staples with years of racing experience and ready to make an impact.
One such performer is freshman Maddie Steele, who has shot into the top group of times in her first year on the team.
In a sport where fractions of a second can make the difference, the Wreckers hope to get the breaks at the end of the season to convert an excellent regular season into a championship.
“We do we have a chance,” Ruggiero said. “We all have to be at our best and we’re definitely not going to win without putting forth our best effort. We have enough skill.”