Blue Ridge carves new XC course

BY KEVIN WOODRUFF

The Blue Ridge High School cross country course needed some renovation, and that’s just what coach Sam Folk did.

Of course he didn’t do it by himself. Grounds and maintenance manager Dennis Lewis helped him carve out the new hill-heavy course in New Milford.

The previous course at Blue Ridge was a mere 2.84 miles, but the new one is a full 3.1 miles.

What used to be a series of downhill slants on the course, are now a series of nine uphill climbs for runners.

After its inaugural running on Oct. 2, coaches and athletes agreed that it was a challenge.

Elk Lake coach Will Squier referred to it as the toughest course in the district after Tuesday’s race.

“With the changes they made, this is the toughest course in the district. It probably is harder than the state course. There’s nine hills on this course and they’re all pretty significant.”

Lewis said on Monday that the course distance was increased by about three-tenths of a mile, and altered to make it more difficult.

“Coach (Folk) wanted something more challenging for the runners,” Lewis said. “He wanted it switched up so that there were more hills.”

According to Lewis, there wasn’t any major excavation work done to make the changes, just a few spots where ground was smoothed out to make it usable for the runners.

“We had a few wet spots,” Lewis said. “So they were filled in with soil. We didn’t bring in a bulldozer or anything.”

Although a new section was added into the course, it didn’t take a lot to get it ready for runners.

“The area we added to the course was already a clear area,” Lewis said.

Races at Blue Ridge start and end at the soccer field at the high school, and Lewis said an extra loop around the field was one of the changes made.

After looking around the soccer field, runners head south behind the barn at the east end of campus.

After that, runners will now head west, going up another incline towards a practice soccer field.

From there, runners will then run along the tree line of Pennsylvania State Gamelands 135 before heading back down towards the barn where they will make a left turn towards the west to make a second loop along the tree line.

After the second loop, runners then head back north towards the soccer field, make a loop around, and end the race where it began.

Lewis said he believes the goal of making the course more challenging was successful.

“I talked to coaches from Elk Lake and Montrose,” Lewis said. “They are competitive teams, and if their coaches say it’s a tough course, it’s a tough course.”

(Times-Shamrock writer Scott Walsh contributed to this report).