Weekly Feature



2018-09-13 / Sports

Lancaster boys cross-country team returns experienced squad

by TAYLOR NIGRELLI Reporter

The Lancaster boys cross-country team is off to a strong start to the 2018 season after a solid finish at the Red Dragon Invitational at Bemus Point.

The Legends took fourth place overall in the event out of 22 large-school teams. They were led by Armani Merlino, who finished second at 16:11 on the 5K course. Derek Lasker was 10th at 17:10, Collin Rice was 23rd at 17:34. Jared Rogalski was 29th at 17:55, Zach Winnicki came in 44th in 18:25, John Peresan was 64th at 18:57 and Sam Auria was 71st at 19:07.

Meanwhile, the JV team was strong as well, taking second place out of 20 teams. Key contributors from the JV squad were Reed Lasker, Evan Maher, Ben Deakin, Steven Blatto and Nate Lawrence.

The Legends boast an experienced squad heading into the season. They return 19 boys, including the top four runners. They’re coming off a season where they were fourth in the Section VI Championship Class A race and ninth out of 55 teams in the meet overall. They were also sixth of 24 in the ECIC Championship meet.

Merlino qualified for the state meet last year and was 53rd of 108 runners, finishing second among Section VI runners.

Merlino, Lasker, Rice and Rogalski are the top four again this season. Coach Robert Niescier hopes to have all four run under a 17-minute 5K, while getting several others under 17:30. The team’s depth guys will feature Winnicki, Auria, Jake Lis and Peresan. The team is aiming to compete with the other teams in ECIC Division I, all of which are among the best programs in Western New York, including Orchard Park, Clarence, Frontier, Williamsville North and West Seneca West.

“We want our runners to continue to improve throughout the year and stay healthy,” Niescier said. “We want to challenge the top teams in our division and in our race at sectionals. Our final wish is to qualify individuals or our team for the state championship meet. We are in a tough division, and all of these teams have very good distance programs.”

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