The only thing that's changed about Steve Murdock is the jersey he wears.
After helping Saratoga win last year's state class A cross country title, Murdock donned Shenen-dehowa's black-and-green jersey for the first time since transferring to the Clifton Park school during the summer and helped the Plainsmen win last Saturday's Shaker Invitational by 16 points over Queensbury.
I think they're all really nice kids. We're all buddies, said Murdock of his new teammates.
Murdock highlighted a strong Shen performance by winning the boys varsity race with a time of 15:33. Adam Quinn took third place with a time of 16:09.82, and Zach Predmore followed closely in fourth place with a time of 16:10.44. Zac Suriano " who switched from soccer to cross country this season " placed seventh with a time of 16:22.97.
"Suriano's effort may have been the biggest breakthrough here," said Shen coach Matt Jones. "It's the first time he's run a varsity race, and he placed seventh. He did well."
Murdock demonstrated the strong finishing kick that helped him win last year's Section II, Class A title and place second at the state meet to Guilderland's Brian Rhodes-Devey. Murdock trailed Queensbury's Matt Flint by several seconds as the runners headed toward the two-mile mark of the 3.04-mile race. But by the time they re-emerged from the woods at Colonie Town Park, Murdock had a comfortable lead on Flint.
"Coach (Jones) wants me to be a little conservative at the beginning and slowly build up speed," said Murdock.
With Murdock and the addition of sophomore Mike Danaher " who was Christian Brothers Academy's lead runner before transferring to his hometown school this summer " Shen has emerged as the pre-season favorite to win the Section II championship.
"We've got to find a fifth man if we're going to live up to all the hype, but I'm very pleased with the first four (today)," said Jones.