Cross country starts off season on the right foot

By Sean Kyle

After finishing in second place in the Bell-Jeff invitational last Saturday, the boys’ section of the newly joined boys’ and girls’ cross country team will look for a second strong performance this weekend in the Staub Invitational. The team’s second place finish was the first in team history, said new Head Coach Johnny Gray.

Gray attributes his team’s success on Saturday and their 2-0 record this season to how young this year’s team is.

“Many of our top players are new to the team and have we are really only getting glimpses right now of what they are capable of,” Gray said.

Many of the squad’s top runners this year, including Aaron Detoledo ’12, Cami Chapus ’12 and Nikki Goren ’12, are freshmen:

“I would not be surprised to see Cami as a future state champion,” Gray said.

The trophy the boys’ team won on Saturday was presented to David Abergel ’11, who won second place individually in the invitational.

“He was the one who really deserved it,” Gray said. “It was a team decision. David won against himself on Saturday. His time was 15.43 and he beat his own record. So he won even though he came in second place.”

Gray has a unique philosophy and set of goals for a coach. He focuses more on the means and not on the end result.

“People expect our goal to be to go to state,” Gray said. “That’s nice but it is not our goal. Our goal is to do what it takes to go to state. Going to state is only the result.”

His focus on success applies to the immediate future as well.

“Too many runners run for Saturday, not Wednesday,” said Gray. “You need to run for Wednesday. And we’re doing that now. The most important meet is always the next one.”

Will Borthwick ’09 appreciates the sizable impact Gray has made on the team.

“Coach Gray has really changed the program for the better,” Borthwick. “He’s changed how we approach running and that has made the team better and made us better. Overall the experience has been great so far this year.”

“My approach is simple,” Gray said. “But it’s not easy. It’s like learning to walk. Once we get it down we can do anything.”

The team looks forward to the rest of the season. Aside from the team goals, they all have their own personal records to beat.

“You are your hardest opponent and the first person you need to beat,” Gray said. “That’s what really matters. It’s important to win the meet but more important to win against yourself. That’s what I keep trying to instill in my runners. If you aren’t satisfied with yourself at the end of the day, you lost. But as long as you accomplish what you set out to accomplish, you are a winner. I think they all get it now.”