By MICHAEL KELLY
BROADALBIN -- After one lengthy preseason, the Broadalbin-Perth outdoor track and field teams are finally going to compete. The Patriots and Lady Patriots will participate today in the CBA/La Salle Relays at the University at Albany.
While most of the area's teams have already completed at least one competition, the B-P clubs had their opening meet canceled and have instead been working for several weeks without a chance to perform.
That's not the worst thing, B-P head coach Jeff Richards said Friday. The squad has rarely had its full team together this preseason, as many of the club's athletes have been pulled in different directions.
"We've had a long time, but with drama (club), Odyssey of the Mind and now vacation, some of our kids actually haven't had as much practice time as we would have liked," Richards said.
That continues today, as a chunk of the club will be missing for school vacation purposes, while another batch of athletes will be late to the meet because they are taking the ACT. Junior Jake Coveney, one of the Patriots' best athletes, is one of the team members taking the test this morning, causing Richards to shift his lineup in some places.
"So, he's going to be in the late events," said Richards. "I just hope he makes it there in time for those."
The opportunity today for the B-P teams is to see how their barrage of new athletes will take to certain events. The club has a lot of rookie competitors, plus some athletes returning from a hiatus.
"This meet will be a good experience for us," said Richards. "We're trying to figure out how our kids fit into places, but I think we're probably still two weeks away from knowing where everybody will fall."
The nature of today's event -- 14 different events set in a relay format, plus two open track competitions -- should give Richards plenty of chances to see his athletes try new things, as there are ample opportunities for athletes to compete.
"For example, I've got Kylie Gifford (back this year), and she's running an 800, a 400 and a 200 -- and probably a 100 for us," he said. "So, she's going to run all different distances and we'll see where she falls into our lineup for varsity when we get to the Foothills (Council) meets."
More than anything, today's meet will give the B-P teams a chance to get some early-season bumps out of the way.
"The first meet, it's like the first five minutes of any game," said senior Pierre LaPort. "Once you get the jitters out, everything comes back and starts to flow naturally, and you just go with it."
LaPort will compete in the shot put and discus throw relays, both events in which B-P is expecting to field a strong team on the boys' side.
While LaPort is a veteran of the sport, sophomore Kelly Makarowsky is one of B-P's rookies. After a long preseason, she said it will be good to finally compete.
"I'm ready for it to come already," she said. "It's exciting."
Makarowsky will likely compete in several sprint relays. While she is one of the B-P athletes not totally sure what to expect from today's event, she said the goal is a simple one for her first meet.
"Just [getting to run] with the group of girls we have, being together, and building our team to get to sectionals where we can hopefully win a title," Makarowsky said.
Building a sense of team is an important piece to today's meet, Richards said. After a preseason of athletes focusing on improving their individual skills, a relays competition is a chance to foster togetherness.
"I like going to the relays first like this," said Richards. "It brings your team together because kids who don't necessarily work together -- like our sprinters and our distance runners -- they're put together in a relay and it brings that chemistry together."
Today's meet begins at 10 a.m.
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