Cross Country - Boys' JV
New Englands
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Choate Rosemary Hall
Placed 252-
The boys cross country team traveled to Choate for the Division 1 New England Championships this past Saturday. On a crisp day that veered below thirty degrees as the afternoon progressed, varsity and junior varsity alike bettered their placement from last year with a slate of strong showings from runners old and new. The varsity finished in 10th place, 1 spot above last year, while the junior varsity finished 11th, 4 places above their previous standing. After a tough 2016 season, the team worked hard to achieve these accomplishments, showing a newfound grit individually and together. This also marked the final race for several of the runners on the team, but they went out on a high note. Ben Roberts finished his cross country career on this cold but beautiful day in Wallingford, Connecticut. He went in with more confidence than usual, having already run the Choate course this year in 16:53, but found himself stuck in a large pack half a mile into the race. As he neared the midpoint of the race, he settled into 13th place, but kept an eye on those ahead of him. After suffering through the biggest hill of the course and flying down the subsequent downhill, he pushed past a runner from Belmont Hill to move into 12th place and began to look for top 10. Coming downhill into the last 400 meters, he briefly pushed past a member of the Hotchkiss team into 10th place, but found himself unable to keep up with the final surge from the bearcat. He finished the race in 12th place after an NHM runner sprinted into tenth, repeating his placement from last year and bettering his time on the Choate course to 16:47. This is likely the last cross country race Ben will run, but he is immensely grateful to everyone - coaches, teammates, parents, and friends - who supported him through his two years on the team. Calvin Palmer ran an incredible race, finishing 31st in 17:23 for a 5:36 pace and a 45 second PR on the Choate course. He did not place where he was hoping, but in a year where nearly every team in the league brought a strong and deep squad of runners, he ran a gutsy final race and pushed himself far beyond what he had previously accomplished in Wallingford. He showed off his speed one last time during the downhill last half mile, as he reeled in several other runners to push down the team score. As he heads into his final season of Taft track and looks towards college, Calvin has a strong high school cross country career to build off of. The only four year runner on the team, and a two year captain, Calvin has brought invaluable experience and leadership to the team, and both of those things will be missed. Next up for Taft was Joey Nihill, running an 18:08 race to finish in 61st place. Joey has been a consistent bright spot this season, as only freshman on a varsity full of seniors, and the progress he has shown this season bodes well for years to come. His time on Saturday was the fastest of the season for him by 11 seconds, and coming as it did on a hilly course it represents a stellar achievement. Joey's hard work this season, through injury and other setbacks, has paid off, and it will be exciting to see what he can accomplish over the rest of his time at Taft. Ben hopes that Joey will text him when he breaks Ben's Taft record. Coming in fourth for Taft was yet another senior, Ian Wolheiter. A late arrival to the team - running his first season in his senior year - Ian has been a valuable member of the varsity for this entire season. He ran 22 seconds faster than his previous time at Choate (and 1 second off his time on a shorter Taft course) to finish in 18:30 and 74th place. Despite various injuries and gripes throughout the season, he persevered and grew stronger to finish out the season on a high note. He, along with Ben, Barrett, and Isaac, make up the cohort of thirds soccer players who moved to cross country, and he has been a steady contributor throughout the season. Hot on his heels was Barrett Wong, the third captain for Taft and a steady force for the team. He ran an 18:45 to finish in 76th place, wrapping up the season on a high note despite struggling through several injuries in the last few weeks of the season. Barrett has been plagued with various ankle injuries over the course of the season, but he has stayed positive throughout and earned his appointment to captain halfway through the fall. After fighting through the final hill of his cross country career, he crossed the line a successful and hardworking runner. Fighting through several injuries was Isaac Lennon, who toughed out a week of difficult work with the trainer (thanks to a knee and foot injury) to finish in 81st place with a time of 18:59. Despite the rocky finish to the season, Isaac showed incredible grit to finish the race despite his various pains. Isaac has been a consistently fast presence on the team since joining after preseason. His work ethic and attitude have been stellar, and the team is glad he chose to join after leaving the soccer program. Despite the disappointment of injury looming over the final race, Isaac showed his characteristic persistence and finished with a respectable time and place. Finally for the varsity, in 84th place, Phil Huang finished in 19:04. Phil has been a steadfast member of the cross country team for the past three years, and he finished his Taft career with a 35 second improvement on the Choate course. Phil has quietly put in huge numbers of miles over the past years, and it has paid off with his strong showing here. The team hopes he learns better pre run eating habits, but we are also grateful for the years he gave cross country and the consistent effort he put forth. In the JV race, several Taft boys had amazing runs. Stefan Kim lead the pack for Big Red with his 5k personal best of 19:11. Stefan improved his place from 118th last year in New England’s, to 50th this year, helping the team cut 131 points off their point total, and improve their placement from 14th to 11th, finishing ahead of Miton, Trinity Pawling, Avon, and Brunswick this year. In his final xc race for Taft, senior Colin Schissel went out with a bang, running his best race as a Rhino, finishing in 19:40, second for Big Red. Marcus Valenta and Yuk Sum Chan finished closely behind with runs of 20:00 and 20:03. Valenta had a particularly tough race after rolling an ankle early on the course and Chan also demonstrated his tenacity in running through a foot injury in the final meet. Upper mid, Philip Zanone rounded out the scoring, while Kai Kostmayer and Ben Mariani placed in 6th and 7th for the team. Kai Kostmayer along with Will de Melo had huge personal records on the day, posting runs of 21:36 (over 1:40 faster than Kostmayer’s previous best), and 21:51(35 seconds off of de Melo’s best). Newcomers to the team, Ben Weinstein and Omar Veliz capped the team effort on the day with runs of 21:58 and 23:55, finishing their rookie seasons on a high note. After a great season, Stefan Kim and Marcus Valenta aim to captain the program in the 2018 season.