Boys' Cross Country - Varsity
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On an ideal New England fall afternoon, Taft hosted Kent for their Parents’ Day home meet. The Taft boys’ executed their game plan, using the home field to their advantage, surging up the hills with the support of the crowds cheering on several home games, and opening up and recovering on the downhills. In the final dual meet of the season, the varsity team ran their best race of the season, beating a solid Kent squad 20-36. Seniors Ben Roberts and Calvin Palmer led the charge for Big Red, surging off the starting line and then opening up a substantial lead over the rest of the pack throughout the hilly course. Both Ben and Calvin ended up having amazing races, running personal records. Ben broke his own Taft record on the home course of 16:31, cutting three seconds off of his time and hitting 16:28: a 5:29 mile pace over the three miles. Ben also broke into the top five times ever run on the course. Palmer finished just ten seconds behind, running the third fastest time by a Taft runner on the course: a breakthrough performance by the four-year runner. Just behind Kent’s number one, Cooper LeBlanc, was Isaac Lennon, senior for Taft, who followed with a breakthrough performance of his own. Lennon ran 17:56 in his first time breaking 18 minutes and running sub-six minute mile pace in a race. Lennon led the Taft pack, trailed by freshman Joey Nihil, and senior Ian Wohlhieter. Running a smart and steady pace, while seeming to glide up the hills, Lennon worked his way up through the Kent ranks through the race, catching Kent’s number two, Xander Carey, in the final half mile, and pulling Nihil and Wohlhieter to strong finishes of 18:28 and 18:29 in the process. Nihil and Wohlhieter captured sixth and seven place to seal the victory. Hot on their heels was senior, Phil Huang, running a personal best of 18:39, finishing 10th overall. Lennon, Nihil, Wohlhieter, and Huang all added their names to the ranks of the top 30 Taft runners on the home course, placing 13th, 21st, 22nd, and 24th. Other notable performances include Marcus Valenta, rounding out a great day for the varsity team with a time 19:07. Stefan Kim finished just behind him, winning the JV race, with a time of 19:09. Both performances were personal bests. The Rhinos look to build upon their back-to-back wins to close the regular season. The varsity program seems to be peaking at the right moment, as they gear up for Founders’ League Championships next weekend.