The cross country team has battled unseasonably hot race weather en route to several solid performances. And according to coach Michael Wilson, the best is yet to come from this group.
“Throughout September and a good chunk of October, we carry a lot of fatigue with us into races,” he said. “Since mid-season races don’t count for much in terms of conference or regional accolades, this is an intentional method of training that allows us to get in a dense, strong body of overall fitness work.”
In other words, the first few races act almost as a preparation for the later ones that carry more weight in terms of conference or regional rankings, the kinds of races the team hopes to excel in.
So far the team has run meets at Bryn Mawr, Lebanon Valley and Dickinson. They have put together three solid performances despite having to run in incredibly hot conditions. Several performers have stood out for the team.
On the women’s side, one would be remiss to not mention All Mid-East runner and team captain Josey Rupert. Rupert is already in the record books at Eastern and won the Bryn Mawr invitational by more than 30 seconds. “Josey is a national-caliber runner,” said Wilson. “Very coachable, and humble, and works harder than any athlete I’ve ever worked with.”
Behind Rupert is All-Conference runner Adrienne Borelli, whom Wilson sees as a contender for conference and regional awards. Kasia Thomas, the team’s number three runner, has looked stronger than Wilson has ever seen her this season. Behind Thomas is where the team has been hit by injuries, with Jenna Evangelista, Alyssa Schock and Steph Hogan all battling their individual ailments. Wilson sees them all as tough athletes and competitors, and hopes to see them make healthy returns before the end of the season.
Wilson was highly optimistic about the men’s team, calling them “the strongest seven we have yet to field.” The top five has been a mix of experience and youth, with juniors Aaron Reed and Nick Trombley, senior Jesse Martinez and a pair of freshman, J.C. Garges and Clayton Bender. Together, said Wilson, they have formed a group “capable of finishing within about 30 seconds of each other.” Any of them are capable of capturing a spot on conference teams, said Wilson, or even something as impressive as a school record.
The final two spots on the men’s team are filled by Zack Hackett and John Johnson, both of which have already posted personal bests this year.
Looking to the future, Wilson is excited about the team’s potential. Every performance now, in his mind, is building toward success later in the season.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re winning meets in September,” he said. “It only matters in November. Both teams are as committed to excellence and to each other as I’ve ever seen, and I’m thrilled to be coaching this group. I couldn’t ask for a better group of young men and women to work with.”