Cross Country

Sports

Unpredictable weather has been an obstacle for both the boys varsity and girls cross country teams, one that they’ve had to run around. Due to the unusually wet fall, many meets were cancelled making it very hard to consistently track the areas runner’s improved or need to keep working on. These areas include individuals’ overall race or mile splits.

Both teams have tried to make up for the lack of meets by putting in more work during practice. Head Coach of the girls varsity cross country team Tricia Watson said that the practices this season have been more difficult than in years prior, as there has been no need to give “off days” or easy practices because of the lack of meets.

Even with the unfortunate weather Head Coach Fritz Goodman of the boys varsity cross country team Fritz Goodman continued to push his team with difficult drills involving speedwork.

The senior leadership, especially by senior captain Thomas Betts, has played a critical role in keeping the team motivated and competition ready. Coach Goodman said that it was hard for the team to not put their best foot forward with Betts as the leader. “Tom has been an extraordinary captain,” Coach Goodman said. “He’s willing to do everything, whether it’s leading by example, having the hard conversations, holding people accountable, and because of how respected he is, he’s able to get the best out of people.”

Coach Watson also speaks very highly of the team’s captains and general senior leadership. Coach Watson said that this year’s team dynamic has been different than previous years and she said the seniors have done a great job teaching everyone what it really means to be part of the cross country team. “The seniors have done an amazing job sharing the traditions of the team with the younger players,” Coach Watson said.

Due to great support from upperclassmen and the difficult practices, both teams were able to see great improvement on Saturday, Oct. 20 when they travelled to Wilbraham, MA. The boys team faced off against Wilbraham and Monson Academy, while the girls team ran against both Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy.

The boys team lost the race 34-21, but had many individual victories. Freshman Kevin Graziosi finished first for the Wyverns and fourth overall with a time of 19:38. Junior Ethan Pinkes followed shortly after with a time of 19:48 as he was able to break 20 minutes for the first time this season.

The boys and girls cross country teams then competed at the Founders League Championship on Saturday, Nov. 3. The conditions proved tough in this race, as the rain the night before made the course much more difficult for the runners to compete to their full ability.

Betts said that the boys team took away a lot of positives from the experience even though they did not place very high. He also said that this competition helped prepare the team for the New England Championships on Saturday, Nov. 10.

Senior Captain Taline Norsigian said that the girls team also benefited greatly from the meet. “We had some training weeks with workouts everyday in the middle of our season, so you could definitely see in this race all the endurance and speed our team built up,” Norsigian said. Norsigian said that some people ran extremely well having very good times even though the weather was bad. She added that at least half of the team beat their personal records and everyone’s times from the Founders League Championship dropped two or three minutes.

The New Englands championship for the boys team was filled with great improvement as many runners were able to achieve their personal bests. “We all worked extremely hard and had some of our best races of the year,” Pinkes said.

The girls varsity cross country team placed 14 out of the 22 teams competing at the championship. There were 159 girls competing at this meet and freshman Olivia Reynolds impressively placed top 30 and Sophomore Jaden Paldino also did very well as she placed top 50. “I am proud of ever runner because we put everything on the line and did not let the undesirable weather defeat us,” Taline said

The day of the race was very cold, windy, muddy and it even snowed. Many of the players had never run in snow so it was a very cool and new experience. “During our five seniors last race it started to snow which felt pretty magical, since none of us had ever ran in the snow before,” Taline said.

As the season ends, Coach Goodman remains happy with the work that his team put in this year. “No other team worked as hard as us,” Coach Goodman said.

At the end of the day, Coach Goodman said he cares more about the team’s development than the end result. He wants the runners to feel proud and satisfied after each race knowing in their hearts that they could have not have done any better.

Betts also said that the culture of the boys cross country team is simply amazing. “We have fun while still pushing each other, working hard, and competing,” Betts said.

Coach Watson is incredibly pleased with what her team has accomplished this season. “We have really developed a culture this season of hard work and dedication, and more importantly we care beyond self,” Coach Watson said.

She said that the constant care the team displays for eachother has made the team very close, and even though most runners were strangers at the beginning of the season, they are leaving cross country as friends.

Norsigian also felt that the team really bonded this season. “Since we have such a small team, we’re able to become really close,” she said “This year the team is a little loud, but it’s a fun atmosphere.”

As a senior Norsigian took a moment to reflect on this season and what she is going to miss when she graduates. “I will miss going on long runs with the team and just talking about everything while we run,” she said. “Also, I’m going to miss running in the rain when most teams have canceled practice, but the cross country team is still working hard while totally soaked and freezing.”

This season for both the boys and the girls varsity cross country team has been one of change and adaptation. But all the new runners, and long practices will surely help both teams in years to come.