Boys XC makes top ten in the city

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Senior Kyle Su runs his last XC meet at Van Cortlandt Park. Photo taken by Sophia Mahin.
Senior Kyle Su runs his last XC meet at Van Cortlandt Park.
Photo courtesy of Sophia Mahin.

On Saturday, November 9, the PSAL Cross Country City Championships took place at Van Cortlandt Park, which brought such chilly weather, 50 degrees Farenheit, that all the PSAL runners huddled together with their gloves and hoodies before their races to keep warm. The cold did not stop the boys XC team from beating their personal records one after another, earning tenth place in the city. Physical Education Teacher and Athletic Director Keith Hanson also came to support the team, which brightened the boys’ spirits.

Before the race, the THHS boys XC team tried to loosen up. Some took a nap, some played cards, and others joked around for the remainder of the time. However, Coach George Rio reminded the runners to stay fit for the race.

“Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you’re not dehydrated. You have to drink water,” he told them. He even told other runners to warm up before the race. “I ran a lot already,” the runner claimed. “Well, run a lot more,” said coach Rio, and urged him to get up and run.

Finally, it was time for varsity’s last XC meet of the season. Freshman Muhamed Bicic, who was the second speediest in the race among the THHS runners, achieved a new PR of 18:07, beating his old PR by barely more than 47 seconds. He was two seconds away from overtaking junior captain Yashsvi Sharma, who also beat his old PR by 22 seconds. Sophomore Matthew Sullivan and junior Zachariah Ooi also had new PRs, with times of 19:43 and 19:00 respectively.

The junior varsity boys runners also gave their last XC race their best effort, with sophomore Matthew McAndrew also setting a new PR and earning 34th place. Senior Jack Yuan obtained 67th place with a time of 20:17. Although freshmen Vasilis Papa, Isaac So, and Nicolas Barrios fell behind in the beginning, nevertheless, they all set new records for themselves, with Vasilis finishing with a time 26:36, Isaac a time of 23:04, and Nicolas a time of 24:01.

One obstacle the THHS boys faced in their last run of the season was, as Fahim notes, “a big pile of horse manure 100 meters before the bridge.” He and several of the varsity members were also splashed by mud puddles. Muhamed comments, “A certain part of the flats in the beginning were really muddy and wet, so it made it harder to run, especially since my spikes were filled with mud.” He also notes how hard it was to break away from the pack of runners at the beginning, describing himself as “boxed” in by other runners.

Some members, who wore very little else besides their basic running attire, were freezing in the severe cold. The opinion on whether the cold weather affected the team’s running varied.

“For me, it made running a lot harder because it made breathing harder,” says junior Shaunak Kapse, who ran the varsity race with a time of 20:14. Fahim admits that his body parts felt frozen. However, others like Zach, felt that the cold weather was helpful. Matthew Sullivan explains, “The freezing weather made the race easier and put me in my zone.”

When asked whether he felt the boys did well, Mr. Hanson said, “I care more about the PRs.” He added, “If you ask anyone in my gym class, improvement is everything. As long as they keep doing their best, and keep beating their PRs, everything will fall into line.”

Freshman Muhamed Bicic expressed some last words about the cross country season: “Cross country has taught me that ninety-nine percent of success and victory is in the head and the heart. Every time I felt like giving up, I would look at all my competitors and see that they were going through the same difficulties as I, so I tell myself, ‘If they can do this then so can I.”

For some, cross country is their favorite season of the year. Yash summed it up, “Out of the three seasons of track, XC has always been my favorite. Its the season where the team is the closest.”