Early-season success and a focused team have this year’s boys cross country team hoping for even bigger results at the end of the season.
Chief among them would be a prize that has eluded the program up to this point – a Founders League title. The team has finished in the top three each of the last five times the championship was contested, including runner-up finishes in 2019 and 2018.
The team has already made a statement this season with a win at the Canterbury Invitational on Sep. 25. The last win at the event for the program came in 2015.
“It was a huge confidence boost for the guys, not just by winning, but by winning convincingly,” said co-captain Huck Whittemore ’22. “It definitely put the league on notice.”
Head Coach Pierre Yoo emphasized that the best is still in store for his runners. “We have not hit our stride yet. We have learned a lot about ourselves and look forward to improving as the season progresses,” he said. “We are running for November.”
Yoo credited his runners for their pre-season work over the summer as one of the keys to the team starting off on a strong note. “Summer miles make November smiles,” he said.
Being able to get back out on the race course has also been a big boost, said Whittemore. “Cross country is one of the sports where having others to compete with brings everyone up,” he said. “The level of competition in the league has made all of us sharper and faster going into the latter half of the season.”
To stay successful, the Bearcats will need to continue to work on running together as a pack, said Yoo. Having seven strong runners in each race will be key to maximizing the team’s performance – although only the top five score, the sixth and seventh runners will be key to displacing runners on other teams, he said.
“We need to continue to run with each other and for each other,” he said.
Yoo also gave kudos to his four captains – Whittemore, Ben Johnson ’22, Billy Meneses ’22, and Owen Zinn-Keane ’22 – for their leadership thus far. The captains have added responsibility this year to introduce racing to both the new students and last year’s lower mids, who did not have a chance to compete, said Yoo.
“They understand the culture of this team that we had and continue to build,” said Yoo.
Whittemore emphasized consistency and health as his primary areas of focus as captain. With other, larger schools having deeper rosters, Hotchkiss runners will need to keep themselves in the best possible shape at the end of the season through sensible training routines, he said.
The captains will also try to maintain a positive attitude. “Having fun is paramount. Cross country can get tedious and mentally tough at times, so keeping a light attitude is key,” said Whittemore.