The boys cross country program began at Taft in the late 1950s under the guidance and vision of legendary coach John Small (1951-1987). Throughout his years and continuing today, cross country at Taft has always stressed hard work, team camaraderie, and personal growth. We realize that the sport is as much about courage and testing oneself as it is about technology and the latest training theories, and our teams have always had fun while striving for excellence. Taft has produced a number of individual New England champions and Founders’ League team championships, but the accomplishments often go beyond our winning percentage and championships. In recent years, our top runners have gone on to run for Virginia, Harvard, Hamilton, Bowdoin, Colgate, and Middlebury, but many more continue to run on their own and stay connected with the team at Taft. As a group, we do the majority of our training on the 200–plus acres of fields and hills on campus, the beautiful all-weather Weaver track, and the extensive trails of White Memorial Nature Preserve just up the road in Litchfield. The program emphasizes a variety of training methods and building gradually in order to stay healthy and peak at the appropriate times.
After serving as an assistant coach for eight years, Al Reiff was named head coach of the Boys’ Cross Country Team in 2021. He is only the fourth head coach in the program’s long history. In 1991, Al helped establish a crew program at Taft. He served as head coach for both boys’ and girls’ crew for a decade before stepping away from crew to take the reins of the school’s wrestling program, where he had previously spent 15 years as an assistant coach. Al led the grapplers for 15 years before shifting his focus to Taft’s cross country program. Al has completed four marathons and seven half marathons, most recently the 2023 Cheshire Half Marathon. Al has also returned to the head coaching position for wrestling and serves as the head of the mathematics department. In the summers, Al is the director of the Taft Educational Center.
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