The Jamesville-Dewitt Boys Cross Country team has heard the shot of the starter pistol in the start of the 2016 fall sports season. The team is loaded with returners and upperclassmen leaders, including senior star Pat Dye, as well as a large, talented group of new and motivated younger runners. After finding increasing success in each meet, the boys are heading full speed toward their goal: success in sectionals.
The main goal in cross country is the same for everyone; to get faster. “The major key to success in cross country is low running times and to do that you need to have a fast speed and a good pace,” says junior Parker Wing. “To be better you have to run faster,” says sophomore Ben Virgo. And even though it seems like a simple concept, the rigorous training, the fierce mindset and the precise skill that all goes into getting speed is much harder than it sounds. “It’s not easy at all,” says sophomore Fidel Martinez, “you have to work as hard as you can every day if you want to be able to compete against the other top runners around the state.”
Another team goal is to improve their chemistry. “The connection of the team is definitely something that needs to be worked on because overall it’s pretty weak,” says Virgo, “there’s a lot of guys who will separate from everyone else during practice and not everyone is completely comfortable with the rest of the runners on the team.”
Something else that needs to be worked on by the whole team is that everyone needs to get on the same page. “This is a serious team with serious goals and not everyone is always going 100 percent in practice,” says junior James Dougherty, “that needs to change if we want success.”
A lot of the younger JV runners look up to the older and more experienced runners for their hunger. One of those younger guys is freshman Luke Hobika who has a passionate goal inspired from one of the Varsity Cross Country stars. “Someday I want to have Pat Dye speed,” says Hobika.
And what exactly is Pat Dye speed? Sectionals and even state competition level speed. If you go to any of the cross country meets you will hear the commotion that the J-DHS senior causes among the spectators as he usually comes in minutes ahead of all his opponents, with cool and effortless strides even by the time he is crossing the finish line. “Pat Dye is just insane,” says senior Casey Kretsch who watched one of the last home cross country meets, “he breezes past everyone else and doesn’t even look tired. I don’t get how he does it.” The senior record breaker will be joined by other top runners in representing J-DHS in further competition following the regular season. Besides Dye, the other current top runners of the team include senior Chris Blust, sophomore Evan Blust, sophomore Fidel Martinez, freshman Kaleel Boykins, freshman Alan Gao, junior Sam Glisson, senior Jake Harron, freshman Luke Hobika, sophomore Nick Mannion, senior Ben McCrindle, freshman Avier Reese, junior Brendan Sharon, and junior Mac Tuber, all of whom were selected by head coach Emily Rowles to attend the fiercely competitive meet in Manhattan.
The wide array of strong runners have gained a lot of respect and admiration among their follow teammates. “What is really cool about Kaleel is how much he has improved. In the beginning of the season he was a new guy nobody knew who finished toward the end of the group. And now, he’s finishing in the top every time and keeps up with Pat Dye for a good majority of the run,” says Dougherty. Martinez, who is also new to J-DHS like Boykins, is also “a very strong addition to the team.” A lot of runners who are now leading the pack were really admired for their growth. “Guys like Jake Harron and Mac Tuber who went to camps over the summer have improved a lot,” says Evan Blust. “There’s just so much talent on the team,” says senior Nick Palin, “we’re gonna have so much success in sectionals and states, it’s just a fact.”
There’s something very unique about this specific era of J-DHS cross country runners: blood. In other words, many of the runners are not just teammates but related by blood as well – they’re brothers – wearing the same red and white jersey and representing the same school. This brotherly phenomenon truly brings out the sibling rivalry within their DNA. “My oldest brother Brady Wing who graduated (in 2015) was a really well liked and respected guy here at J-D,” says Parker Wing, “he was also an insane runner, but his mark he left at the school and for cross country encourages me since it’s a way to work to get out of his shadow and prove the fact that I’m the best out of all the Wings.
Freshman Logan “Chunks” Wing, the youngest of the Wing trio of brothers, disagrees with Parker and thinks that it’s himself who will be the best out of his brothers. “Wanting to be the best out of my brothers encourages me to work hard every day at practice,” says Logan Wing. Junior identical twins Brendan Drotar and Ryan Drotar take the sibling rivalry to a whole other level. “Even though if we look in the mirror we kinda look like the same person there’s one big difference, I’m sprinting across the finish line while Ryan is still looking in the mirror, that’s how much faster I am than him,” says Brendan Drotar. “I push myself to the max everyday in practice and having Brendan on the team with me makes me work even harder because I always want to be better than everyone, especially him,” says Ryan Drotar.
The Red Rams Boys Cross Country runners only see a bright future. The team is stacked with various fast and skilled athletes who are very hopeful in their chances of victory in sectionals and even states this fall. Hobika perfectly summarizes the overall feelings among his teammates and himself regarding what will happen next. “Each practice and each meet we are going to get better and better…and we are going to dominate in sectionals and states too.”