Cross country hits their stride


Now that the first month of t​​he first fall season since COVID-19 has come and gone, the boys and girls varsity cross country teams are both looking forward to continuing their success and eventually competing in New Englands.

Led by senior Co-captain Sam Merkatz, the boys squad has been working hard every day at practice. Merkatz has placed behind the winning team’s third runner in two consecutive meets, showing great leadership and resilience. 

The boys team, lead by Head Coach Fritz Goodman, has only won one meet, but they are focusing on individual improvement and making progress in each race. “The team is young, so I look forward to what they will accomplish in the years to come,” Coach Goodman said. 

As the KO community has seen during assemblies, the girls team has shown themselves to be a force to be reckoned with. With dominant performances in all of their meets, the two that stand out the most were those at Pomfret and Westminster “The Pomfret course was extremely tough,” senior Co-captain Stella Risinger said. “All of the girls worked their very hardest, special shoutouts to [freshman] Sasha [Dausey] and [senior] Ashleigh [Stepnowski], who held position for us.” 

In a nailbiter until the final runner, the girls won the race by one point.

The team is full of standout runners this year. “Our top two, [senior] Olivia [Reynolds] and [sophomore] Kami [Tarantino], are an absolute power duo,” Risinger said. “They work together on and off the course. Also, two of our freshmen, [freshman] Claire [Palmer] and Sasha, have been performing super well.”

Coach Goodman and Risinger both attribute the team’s success to their discipline at practice. 

They follow a week-by-week schedule. “On Mondays we do long runs, on Tuesdays we do workouts, Wednesdays are “CT” [critical threshold] runs,” Risinger said. “Thursdays can be a lighter workout or long run as well, and Fridays are a short walk or jog to get ready for the weekend meet. On workout days, we often do interval work. On distance days, we run four to five miles, and perhaps even six in the coming weeks.”

On Hewett Day, both the boys and girls team won their respective races, highlighting their runners in front of a home crowd. On the girls side, eight runners finished in the top 10, and for the boys, Merkatz finished in second place.

The boys and girls cross country teams work very closely together. “We have strengthened the camaraderie of the co-ed team concept this year,” Coach Goodman said, “which has proven very beneficial.” The teams always push each other in practice and support each other at meets. 

The remainder of the season is looking very promising for both teams. With four meets left in the season, the girls are aiming to take the win on Senior day against Suffield and Wilbraham & Monson Academy. 

Following that, they have the Williston Invitational, Founders Championships, and New England Championships. “We are also optimistic for some high scoring at Williston and New Englands,” Risinger said, “which would be really exciting.”

The girls are looking to bring home more hardware, and the boys are excited to see improvement and can’t wait to compete.