After graduating nearly a dozen runners off of last year’s top-four team, the boys varsity cross country will be looking for a new group of athletes to step up.
“I’m excited to see how the new students blend in with the returning students,” said head coach Pierre Yoo. “The team is a little smaller this year. With that comes the advantage of hopefully becoming more closely knit.”
Change is a major theme for the Bearcats this year in both the roster and the coaching staff, as Yoo is joined by new assistants Nate Seidenberg and Sam Somera. Seidenberg is a Hotchkiss veteran who was elevated to head varsity track coach last season, and Yoo was effusive in his praise for the work Seidenberg has done thus far.
“He just loves running, he loves the minutia of running,” said Yoo of Seidenberg, adding that he has focused thus far on improving the team’s strength training. “That’s an investment towards the future. If we continue building our strength now, we’re investing in a longer season so that we’re stronger at the end.”
Somera has brought both positive energy and some more contemporary training techniques from his recent past running at Syracuse University, said Yoo. “He really likes planning for certain workouts – that planning has been very helpful. He’s been showing us the ‘Cuse workout,” he added, noting an emphasis on more interval training this year.
All these changes will hopefully help the team reduce the risk of injury and keep all the Bearcat runners as healthy as possible heading into the final three major meets of the season, added Yoo.
Another major contributing factor to the team’s potential this year is the work done in the off-season. Captain Kostia Howard ’20 noted that an extraordinarily high number of runners completed the summer quota of 130 miles that has recently been a gateway to admission into the team’s pre-season program.
“Summer training is everything in this sport, which is built on cumulative training,” said Howard. “The mileage base allows us to work on building racing ability rather than getting used to running 20+ miles per week.”
Howard himself will be one of the biggest assets to this program this season, particularly with so many new faces, said Yoo. “He’s the glue that keeps this team together. Not only is he an incredible student-athlete, he loves the school, loves working with other people, and he’s extremely humble.”
Thus far the results have been encouraging, with the team sweeping its first three head-to-head races and edging out Hopkins by a point at Canterbury. If all goes well, this group could set itself up for more than one season of success, said Yoo.
“There’s a window of opportunity for this team,” he said. “I’m excited to see what the team can do this year and also lay the groundwork for the future of the program.”