WILLIAMSTOWN -- Hiram Green doesn't mind the warm temperatures and lack of wintry conditions that North County has mostly encountered so far this year. At least not yet. The Mount Greylock boys' cross country head coach has been through enough Berkshire winters to know that the snow will come, and his team has plenty of training options meanwhile.
"Hill workouts, bounding, relays, speed work, roller skis and circuit training," Hiram listed. "There are lots of things that can be done. They do some running, they do a lot of ski-oriented dry land drills, especially for the new kids. When we actually get on snow, they'll have already learned some of the stuff we would have taught them with winter conditions."
But that doesn't mean Hiram is content with his athletes running instead of skiing.
"If the dry land business continues week after week, then some of the kids will start to get a little edgy," he said.
They probably will because the Mounties return another strong team, one that should contend for both the freestyle and classical state titles. They won both last year, placing four skiers in the top 10 in the freestyle meet. How ever, two of those finishers -- Sean Condron and Kyle Flynn-Kasuba -- have graduated.
"Obviously, losing half of your main team can hurt a little bit, but we have a nice bunch of younger kids who are ready to step up and take their place," Hiram said.
Greylock expects similar success because it has a team 30 strong and returns an impressive trio of captains: Evan Dethier, Nick Fogel and Ben Ogden.
"Certainly the boys are going to be contenders for the state title," Hiram said. "They have enough talent, and there are no powerhouses besides perhaps Lenox in the league to challenge them. I'm not saying that we're a shoe-in, but we are a contender."
Dethier carries three individual state championships, including last year's classical title, with him as a testament to his long-standing dominance of Massachusetts skiing.
"There's not much to say to Evan," Greene said. "He's the hardest worker we've ever had. All the success he's had is hard earned. He's a coach's dream as far as work ethic, captainship and talent go. After all these years, he's just gotten better and better. Hopefully, it will continue."
Dylan Dethier, Evan's younger brother, and Patrick Joslin round out the rest of the top skiers for the Mounties. Behind them are plenty of younger up-and-comers with plenty of potential for Greylock's future.
Youth and numbers are also primary characteristics of the girls' team. There are around 40 girls on the squad, and only a few of them are upperclassmen.
"We have a pretty young team this year, so we're just trying to build up our team," captain Sam Beattie said. "We want to do better than last year."
Beattie joins freshman Andrea Fischer, sophomores Camille Robertson and Jackie Lemme and fellow captains Shan Wang and Marichal MacDonald as Greylock's top skiers. Robertson is coming off impressive performances at the state meets last year and has high expectations for this year.
Together, they believe they can improve on last season's showing, which included a third-place finish at the state classical meet and fourth place in freestyle.
"We were really thinking about last year as a rebuilding year," girls' head coach Hillary Green (Hiram's daughter) said. "But our top six totally surprised me. This year, I'm sure they're going to keep driving forward because they're incredibly motivated.
The Mounties, however, have graduated Caitlin O'Brien and Katie White, last year's captains and two steady contributors.
"We lost two important people -- Katie and Caitlin -- but we have younger people that are ready to take their places," Wang said.
Those younger people include a host of promising eighth-graders. Hillary cited Cate Costley, Bree Flynn-Kasuba and Amy Santella as the most impressive of that group. Despite the talent of her team, Hillary cautioned that Greylock will probably still be chasing cross country heavyweights like Lenox and Mohawk. Her skiers, however, respectfully disagreed.
"We're definitely the underdogs this year, but I think we can step it up," Beattie said. "By the time states rolls around, I'm confident that we can bypass them."