Cross country sprints to the finish line

Sports

As both the girls and boys cross country seasons come to an end, both teams are improving race times preparing for New Englands. The girls team is led by sophomore Captains Stella Risinger and Olivia Reynolds. The boys team has a strong front led by senior Captains Will Burstein and Ethan Pinkes.

The cross country teams are one of the smallest teams on campus with only 16 boys and eight girls, yet they have each accomplished great things over the course of the season. The boys team hope to place among the top ten at their upcoming New England Championships lead by Pinkes who was picked to be All-League.

The girls have all improved their race times from the beginning of the year and hope to beat a couple of teams at New Englands. This season, the girls were led by sophomore Ashleigh Stepnowski who broke a course record earlier in the season.

The boys team has accomplished many things over the season. “They have learned how to focus on setting goals and working towards those goals,” said Head Coach Fritz Goodman. Their race times improved dramatically from last year.

The boys cross country team lost against Wilbraham and Munson on Oct. 19, their senior day. They had the home course advantage and knew with great race times, KO could take the victory. Pinkes finished 47 seconds faster than the top runner for the opponent and broke a personal record with a new time of 17 minutes, 51 seconds. Sophomore Kevin Graziosi placed third overall. At the end of the meet, .25 seconds separated the winners. It was a tough loss, but overall the boys were proud of themselves for fighting hard over the whole meet and everyone improving their times.

The team then went to the Shaler Invitational Cross Country Meet at Williston Northampton on Oct. 26 and placed eighth out of 11 teams. Pinkes placed 14th overall and earned a medal with a time of 18:12. Graziosi ran another great race, placing 22nd overall with a time of 18:45.

The girls team has been working hard all season especially since they are made up of many underclassmen. The team is a dedicated group who has gotten many personal best race times at their Founders League Championships.

As a team, the girls have accomplished many team and personal goals this year. “The girls run very closely with each other and are very competitive,” said Head Coach Tricia Watson. They stayed healthy throughout the season and their stamina has been great throughout the year. “Our baseline goal was having everybody finish under 30 minutes, and at our most recent meeting, we even managed to have everybody cross the line in under 26 minutes,” Reynolds said.

The girls had a meet on Oct. 19 and all the girls ran great and tried their best to win. The girls did help celebrate with the boys but they were mainly focused on winning. Stepnowski lead the KO girls team coming in fifth place closely followed by junior Emma Henry coming in sixth overall.

They all improved their times over the season. “Throughout the season, the coaches emphasized the purpose of a positive mindset which all the girls have shown,” Reynolds said.

Preparing for next season, they hope to get more summer work this year and have more runners join them. Coach Watson is excited for what KO cross country will be able to accomplish in coming seasons.