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Barker harriers ready for state meet

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 7 November 2014 at 12:00 am

Contributed Photo – Last weekend the Barker boys cross-country team captured the Section VI Class D tittle to qualify for this Saturday’s state championship meet at SUNY Canton. In front are Dustin Walters, Sergio Cruz and Tanner Gregoire. In back are Assistant Coach Shaon Budde Lamb, Jack Hopkins, Doug Bachman, Christopher Sweeney, Casey Webb and Head Coach Paul DerSarkissian.

Fresh from capturing an eighth straight Section VI Class D championship, the Barker boys cross-country team is now taking aim at earning a third state title as the Raiders compete in the state meet Saturday at SUNY Canton.

“We’re very excited for this,” said Barker Coach Paul DerSarkissian, who points to Beaver River of Section III and East Rochester of Section V as two of the Raiders likely top competitors.

“We’ve run neck and neck with Beaver River since 2007,” said DerSarkissian “It’s a nice rivalry. They have their pack of runners and we have ours so it gets crazy tight with those packs getting just mashed together.”

Barker has placed in the top three at the state meet each of the last six years. The Raiders won the state title in both 2009 and 2011, placed second in 2008, 2010 and 2012 and third last year.

Senior Sergio Cruz, the two-time defending Niagara-Orleans League champion and Barker’s No. 1 runner, is the only runner on the team who was a member of the 2011 title team.

The other members of the Raiders starting seven include seniors Casey Webb, Dustin Walters, Tanner Gregoire, Doug Bachman, Christopher Sweeney and sophomore Jack Hopkins.

“Six of our top seven are seniors so this is their last shot,” said DerSarkissian. “We’re banking on our experience. Everybody is healthy now and we’ve gotten a lot better since we ran at Canton in early September. We won by two points at the Section VI championships (nipping Maple Grove) and this will be another single digit meet so we need everybody to come through.”