Everly Kessler and Francesca Chirco
The Jamesville-DeWitt High School Varsity Boys and Girls Cross Country teams are working to surpass their achievements from last year, as both teams hope to compete in sectionals and ultimately, states. Currently, both the boys and girls teams are undefeated in their meets with a record of 6-0. This season, the boys team is ranked No. 12 in the state, and this is the first time in eight years that the boys have earned a state-level ranking. The girls team has been able to maintain a state ranking as well, holding down No. 8 for Class B. As the season proceeds, all runners must remain focused and continue to put forth their best efforts in order to have a chance at winning sectionals.
“This team is the strongest I’ve been on because the support that we have for each other is so overwhelming,” says sophomore Luke Hobika. Both on and off the course, the team has a very strong bond and there is chemistry among the runners. “The team chemistry is really good because any of the negative attitudes are stifled by the positive attitude that overwhelms it,” says junior captain Alan Gao. This bond is in part because of the strong leadership of the captains and also from Head Coach Emily Rowles. Coach Rowles said she motivates by the “use of positive reinforcement, motivational build up, and pointing out what they can do better so that they can believe in themselves.”
Coach Rowles motivated the team from the first day, by timing their first run on the first day of practice, to show them what the worst their time is, so they would have a basis to grow and improve throughout the season. Coach Rowles also gives the runners the individual goal to improve their times by at least 10% by the end of the season.
The boys team goes through a specific routine before each meet which includes walking the course, doing a stretching and dynamic workout, and finally doing a cheer and getting excited to go into the meet. “We keep a positive mindset before races, think about what we have to do and get excited,” says freshman Jacob Cottet. The team practices an average of two hours per day with slightly shorter practices on the days before races. “Although the team is very young, they’re very hard working and motivated,” said Coach Rowles.
The team competed for the league championship on Oct. 18. “This team has a certain attitude that you don’t get very often. It’s an attitude of always working hard even when nobody’s looking, and that’s an attitude that the J-DHS Cross Country team hasn’t seen in awhile,” says Gao.
The J-DHS Varsity Girls Cross Country team takes pride in not only their race accomplishments, but their bond and their ability to use one another for moral support and to thrive off of each other, in order to reach that next level. “We are all really close and we are all good friends, which is really great, and is one of the great things about being on the team,” says freshman Madeline Foss. The team has big aspirations for this season as they desire to take home the championship at sectionals and even advance to states. “We would like to win the overall sectional title for the Class B championship, that’s been our goal all season,” says Head Coach Jim Lawton. With a devoted team and a practice schedule that never rests, the girls really believe they have shot at bringing home some sectional titles for the J-DHS Cross Country program.
This season has been different from prior seasons because of the level of commitment and togetherness that this 2017-2018 team exhibits. “Even though it is a bigger team than usual, I feel like everyone gets along really well and everyone is really good friends,” says senior captain Abigail Leavitt. Leavitt, along with the rest of the team, knows that if they stay focused on their goal, continue to work hard, there is nothing that will stop them but the finish line.
The team undergoes rigorous practices everyday for about two hours. During practices, more experienced runners are expected to complete 6 miles and new runners have to complete at least 3 miles. Coach Lawton’s goal for the team is to have everyone running at least 5 miles by the end of the season. The practice before meets, the team does speed/tempo and ab workouts along with running for distance. Then, the team will come together for a pasta party in order to get excited and energized for an upcoming meet.
On Oct. 14, both the J-DHS Boys and Girls Cross Country teams traveled to Manhattan to compete in the Manhattan College invitational. Over 3,000 different programs attended this invitational, as it is one of the largest invitationals in the nation. The course is 2.5 miles long, with the first half of the course being very hilly, requiring the most exertion from the runners. Coach Rowles even believes that it was one of the hardest courses the boys team had to run all season.
From the boys team, sophomores Kaleel Boykins and Ahviere Reese, and senior Samuel Glisson, placed at the top of their groups. Glisson is the only runner who had already raced in the invitational as he has attended every year of his high school career. This trip he earned his best time for the course. From the girls team, junior Sophia Vinciguerra and freshman Madeline Foss placed in the top of their groups. In addition to competing in the invitational, both the boys and girls teams went to the Manhattan Mall, Palisades, for shopping, dinner and team-bonding.