BURNT HILLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The word “dynasty” can get thrown around pretty loosely sometimes. But there’s no better way to describe a Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake boys cross-country team that claimed a seventh straight NYSPHSAA Class B championship last Saturday – the longest streak of state titles for any boys cross-country team in New York history.
“We really didn’t talk about the record,” said head coach Chip Button, who’s in his 33rd year at the helm of the program. “We didn’t do it last year. Or…I didn’t do it last year. And one person on the starting line (Saturday)…actually mentioned it,” Button said with a smile to his team laughing next to him. “It was the only time it was mentioned all weekend until afterwards. Saturday’s meet was by far…the most emotional of any of ’em. It was beyond belief about how I felt afterwards.”
Senior Matt Windecker has been part of three of those championship-winning teams. Now, he and his teammates are a part of history.
“That was incredible,” said Windecker. “It was a feeling like no other, ’cause we didn’t have our two-guy (Ben Smith). So, we were running kind of down. Everybody had to have their best race, and we did. It was just amazing. It’s a testament to how Coach Button coaches. (He) creates a culture that is like no other. Having that sustainability throughout the program is just everything.”
Windecker, Cayden Robleno, Logan Muller, Ethan Owen, Brody Dugan, Luca Piccerillo and Brayden Cyr were the runners who represented the Spartans at the meet; Smith couldn’t participate because of an ankle injury sustained earlier in the season.
Windecker, Robleno, Muller, Owen and Dugan all placed in the top-20 for team scorers. Leading the way individually was Robleno, a senior, who finished second out of 116 total runners that competed. He ran the 5k in 16:19.1 – perhaps the race of his young career.
“As we came up to the starting line, I was with Matt, and normally I can’t even see him when we’re running,” said Robleno. “But, as I followed him to the (first) mile, I realized that it was different (that day). I came out of the finish line; my parents were crying. You know, everybody was cheering. It was just a really good experience to have.”
While this year’s group will go down as the official record-breakers, they haven’t lost sight of the runners before them who laid the foundation for this spectacular streak.
“Tyler Berg, Evan Brennan, Aiden Gillooley, Nick Hunziker – they were definitely the models; they were awesome,” said Windecker. “They had an attitude and determination like no other. They made running fun, and helped us know what we had to do, the mindset we had to cultivate throughout the year, and I’ve just kind of tried to model after what they did.”
The Spartans aren’t done with their season just yet. It’s on to the NYS Federation Cross Country Championships at Bowdoin Park, Wappingers Falls on Saturday.