MIAA: Cross Country Can Have Season, But No ChampionshipsOct 27, 2020 10:21AM ● By Christopher Tremblay
The Hopedale boys’ cross-country team has captured 12 straight conference titles, but according to the Blue Raider Coach teams still don’t seem to respect his runners.
“We’re still considered underdogs despite what we have accomplished,” Hopedale Cross Country Coach Joe Drugan said. “Last year no one gave us credit and counted us in this.”
After taking home Dual Valley Conference Championship number 12 in as many years, Hopedale finished second at the Division 2 Central tournament behind Uxbridge amongst 39 teams.
The Blue Raiders then took their show into the States where they were ranked 10th and came home with a third-place finish that was a mere 9 seconds from the top spot.
If Hopedale was not respected for what they accomplished last year, it doesn’t look like there be rated high on anyone’s board this upcoming season. Drugan graduated a good portion of last year’s squad, including four of his top seven runners leaving a big gap to be filled.
“This year is definitely going to be different,” the Coach said. “We are still going to be competitive, no matter what anyone else thinks, but we will not be able to prove that beyond the conference. (MIAA has determined due to the late start of the season because of Covid-19 that there will not be any District or State Championships).
Hopedale will take part in eight or nine matches against the likes of Nipmuc, Blackstone Valley Tech, Whitinsville Christian, Douglas, and Grafton. Coaching in his 28 seasons for Hopedale, Drugan will conduct business as usual with his runners.
“We’re going to take it one step at a time as we’ve done in the past,” the veteran Coach said. “This program has been on top for over a decade and that shows the work that these kids put in; their work ethic is incredible.”
Leading the way in the unprecedented season will be senior Kyle Murray, who according to his coach not only worked extremely hard to prepare for this season, but also worked with his teammates to make them better as well. While Murray will definitely be the Blue raiders top runner the rest of the field could be a mixture of athletes on any given day.
Vying for those top spots will be seniors Jackson Terenzi, Jake Tower, Joey Turrene and Josh Fhumia. Sophomore Ryan Hayes will also make a big splash somewhere near the top.
“Kyle will not only be our best runner, but the area as well. He’s all in this season, knows the sport sand is looking to get something big out of it,” the Coach said. “Ryan is an outstanding runner, who logged over 700 miles this summer and has blossomed into something special and should become a phenomenal runner of the next few years.”
Other runners that will be looking to help the Blue Raiders to a 13 th consecutive conference title will be Jacob Russell, an outstanding runner and if he gets going Drugan believes he’ll be a legitimate threat. In addition to Russell will be freshman Cam Parker, junior Avery Aldridge, senior Luke Rhue, Phillip Carroll, and James Seaver.
“We have a multitude of kids who can run and help this team out,” Drugan said. “Anyone who runs for Hopedale, especially those in the top 10, really worked at it.”
With the pandemic still happening all around us the Hopedale runners are all glad that they will be able to compete this fall.
“This season, being what it is, is important that they get to be competitive. They want to get onto the courses and run to show everyone what they have,” the Hopedale Coach said. “I don’t think too many people realize how hard these kids work to excel at cross country. As a coach. I love to get the best out of each and every one of my runners.”
During this day and age, Drugan is taking it one step at a time; it’s all about the kids and he loves seeing them succeed.