Boys cross country uses veteran varsity squad to strengthen team depth

With a varsity team comprised entirely of returning runners, the boys cross country team is looking to use its experience to its advantage. Five of the top seven finishers of the 2014 team are now part of the 2015 team, and are looking to build upon what they started one year ago when they finished second at the sectional meet.

“Having much of the varsity return is a big advantage for us, and we’ve all improved significantly over the track season and summer training,” said Nick Delaney ’18.

Strict summer training and only losing three seniors has led the team to believe a big season lies ahead of them, according to Delaney. “Our team’s training is starting to kick in, and we’re excited to see one of the best boys [cross country] seasons our team has seen in a while,” Delaney said.

Another advantage the returning team provides is squad depth, according to Alexander Roth ’17. “Having many returning varsity members is very beneficial from a tactical standpoint because it has provided significant depth to our team, meaning that the gap between our top runners isn’t very large,” he said.

photo: Nathan Drezner Head Coach Mark Shelley briefs runners on their group distance workouts for Friday, September 19.

photo: Nathan Drezner
Head Coach Mark Shelley briefs runners on their group distance workouts for Friday, September 19.

As a result, the team could beat opposing teams that may have star runners, but a large gap between their first and last runner.

“Our fifth runner, the last runner that is scored, will be better than most other teams and will be very important in winning big meets later in the season,” Roth said.

Taking into account the experience of the team, the coaches expect to end the season with a winning record. “The chances of winning are a lot better because you have that experience, with all the varsity guys returning from last year [so] it gives us an edge,” Assistant Coach William Hackmeister said.

“I expect a lot from these boys. We have experience and quality, so the season looks bright for us,” Head Coach Mark Shelley said.

“I think our team this year is a lot closer than last year. Last year was more of a building period whereas this year our team is a lot closer knit. We have more camaraderie, and I think that that has really helped us work with each other and get better as a team, not as individuals,” said Noah Chen ’16. “Last year we were all working more for ourselves and this year we’re working more for each other which is helping us all improve as a group.”

The team was moved from Group 3 to Group 4 because of the record-high number of students in the school, which will create additional obstacles. “Since we got moved up to a tough section in Group 4, we will obviously face more of a challenge,” Delaney said. “But we still have the same goal of getting to groups and ideally qualify[ing] for [The Meet of Champions].”

The team has been ranked at sixth place in its conference by highschoolsports.nj.com and is highly anticipated to be one of the best of the last few years, according to Will Ratner ’18 and Will Hare ’18. “The team has the potential to be great, and we all expect to win or at least have a run in all the competitions,” Ratner said.

“A lot is expected of us and we know that. We have the experience and are ready to step up and take on this responsibility,” Hare said.

“We have 19 kids under [19 minutes],” said Cy Watsky ’16. “So overall we’re progressing and we’re progressing with each other rather than against each other and that’s the big difference.”

 

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