Boys’ Cross Country Team– Training to be Champions


Chris DiGricoli, Will Shokoff, Will Gillette, Kenan Yahi and 2019 graduate Ryan Mitchell warm up before the 2018 Somerset County Championship. Photo by Greg Gillette

Katie Buelt, Features editor

As they train for a highly competitive season, the HHS boy’s cross country team is ready to take their competitors by storm. Head Coach Eric Rosenthal has been working to improve his team’s physical and mental capabilities as the start of the season draws nearer. Last year, the team claimed the title of Delaware Division Champs; however, as Rosenthal explained, this achievement is less sensational then it sounds. His aim for his runners this year is to reach the Meet of Champions; this means the team will have to perform well enough in both sectionals and regionals to qualify for this competition, the most competitive meet in the state. Whether or not they achieve this, however, will rely heavily on the top seven runners– the only ones allowed in the postseason meets.

Unfortunately, last year brought on the graduation of Ryan Mitchell, the team’s top runner. Rosenthal admits that this is a major loss for the team, as Mitchell was both a talented runner and a leader within the team. But luckily, the team has some new prospects who are filling the spots that Mitchell and two other seniors left open. Neel Patel and Matt Callesano are both sophomores and strong runners who Rosenthal anticipates will be in the best seven runners throughout the season.

As for the other top-tier athletes, it seems that seniors will dominate the lineup. Kenan Yahi, Will Shockoff, Kyle Hudak, Will Gillette, Nick Bev are all seniors who Rosenthal hopes will lead the team to victory in their final season. For Yahi, who is entering his fourth year on the team, parting with his teammates at the end of the season will admittedly be difficult. “I believe that I am on good terms with everyone on the team,” he said. “In the course of my time, I got progressively closer towards my friends on the team.”
But the team’s most pressing challenge has nothing to do with the skill of its runners. Speed and endurance are insignificant if the team isn’t well enough to participate in the meets. Injury prevention is a formidable task when your athletes are running 40 to 60 miles a week on all sorts of terrain. As a result, Rosenthal says keeping his runners healthy is on the top of his to-do list.

All in all, the team’s future is looking up, and their skill, both physically and mentally, is looking up. The team will face their first test on October 5 at their first meet, the Shore Coaches Invitational in Holmdel, New Jersey. One senior, when asked what his expectations for this season are, replied that he has “high hopes” for himself and his teammates, expecting they will progress past sectionals for the first time in his high school career. “Most of the seniors this year have a lot of morale and a strong will to succeed,” he said. “I believe that we have finally developed the motivation to push ourselves to reach that goal.”