By MICHAEL KELLY
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- Crossing the finish line first at Tuesday's Big 10 boys cross country at Amsterdam High School was Troy's Chris Quinones, who breezed the 2.8-mile course in 15:56.25.
After that, though, it was a flock of Rams crossing the finish line, as AHS runners came in second, third, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th place in the dual meet with Catholic Central and Troy.
"This was our first league meet and we wanted to perform," said AHS head coach Kevin Wilary. "The boys went out there and ran strong today."
Buoyed by their depth, the Rams bested a short-handed Troy squad, 20-Inc. and topped Catholic Central, 17-46. Brett Flint was the top AHS runner with his time of 16:07.01, while Jonathan Knack (third place, 16:15.46) and Gabe Fernandez (fourth place, 16:21.49) were not far behind. The trio stayed together for the first half of the race before separating slightly in the second half, as Flint had a little extra in the tank to earn the second-place finish to Quinones.
"The first couple of (non-league) meets, I was a little sore at the end and I didn't finish strong," said Flint. "I felt a lot better today."
Before the season began, Wilary had said his top three runners were likely to battle all season for the team's top spot. Through three competitions, it looks like he was right; Fernandez was the Rams' top finisher in the first two meets before Tuesday's meet, while Flint and Knack have flipped a couple times. The competition has helped make the season's early part more exciting for the trio.
"It's always good to go for each other, see who gets first," Knack said.
But the Rams showed off their depth Tuesday. David Graveley (sixth place, 17:44.14) and Alex Stewart (seventh place, 17:44.30) rounded out the Rams' scoring lineup, but Jose Perez (eighth place, 18:12.00) and Pablo Almodavar (ninth place, 18:14.00) finished well enough to bump Catholic Central's scorers.
"That next group of runners, they're running really close, too," Wilary said of a group that also includes William Weinheimer (10th place, 19:14.00).
The Rams (2-0) are now hitting the meat of their schedule. After easing into its season with a lengthy preseason, Wilary said AHS is ready to take off.
"In the last couple weeks of practice, we've really buckled down and they're starting to work harder," he said. "You can see the focus they're starting to get."
"We've worked ourselves in easy, building up strength each week and getting into race shape," said Flint. "We're almost there now, we're in pretty good shape."
A winning start to the Big 10 season doesn't hurt, either.
"That helps, that helps," said Flint. "It's nice to start off two and oh, so hopefully we'll continue like that throughout the season."