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2022 Woodstock Academy boys cross-country preview


That’s the feeling Woodstock Academy boys cross-country coach Peter Lusa uses to describe his emotions heading into the 2022 season.

The Centaurs did lose their top runner from a year ago, Ian Hoffman- who finished sixth in the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship and 16th in Class MM- to graduation.

But he has some athletes returning.

“I’m happy with the core five that we have and a couple of the other kids that we have backing them up,” Lusa said.

It wasn’t like that at the beginning of the season.

The Centaurs had only a handful of runners come out but that number has blossomed to about a dozen.

“I knew from summer running, the kids had been reporting to each other, that there was a good core that was doing the mileage that it needed to. I felt good about that but, after that, it was always a question mark and who else is coming out? Some of our returners just didn’t do it, some started working or were injured but they would have been in the top 10 or 15 not top seven,” Lusa said.

He does have a couple of potential frontrunners in senior Vincente Bastura and sophomore Christian Menounos.

Bastura finished 14th in the ECC championship race in 18 minutes, 40 seconds and was 24th in Class MM.

He, however, is feeling the push from Menounos.

“Definitely from Christian, but it’s nice not to be alone,” Bastura said.

The senior said he did a lot more mileage over the summer but the work he did last winter and spring may prove to be even more beneficial.

“In the past, I had the endurance but my legs just didn’t have the muscle to run fast so I did shorter events in the indoor and outdoor track seasons. I feel more prepared to bring that to a cross-country course,” Bastura said.

Menounos finished 20th in 19:06 at the ECC and was 40th in MM.

Behind those two will be sophomore Colton Sallum and juniors Charlie Caggiano and Joel Koleszar although Lusa would like to see those three challenge the top two.

“Here’s the nice thing, between Joel, Colton and Charlie, they will trade off, they will be tight. When the three come through, I think they will do so together. The first two open the door and then those three close the door and that could be OK in some cases. I don’t know what everyone else has,” Lusa said.

The Centaurs finished at the .500 mark, 6-6, last season but were just 1-5 in the Division I of the ECC.

They beat Fitch in the ECC championship meet.

“I would love to be .500 in Division I and beat two of the other teams, I don’t know if we can beat all three of them. It will take a combination of our guys running really well and some teams having people who don’t,” Lusa said.

Another concern is the ever-present Covid threat.

The Centaurs had two runners out this past week due to the virus.

“If that happens (next) week, they won’t compete in the Tuesday opener. It’s going to be that kind of season but that applies to the other teams as well. We should be competitive,” Lusa said.