Cross country finds motivation in three-race season

Runners toe the line against Germantown Academy- Ms. Barbara LaPenta

About one year ago, on a vivid sunny morning, the cross country team stood foot-to-foot with their adversaries, Episcopal Academy. Unfortunately, after the grueling 5k race, the Fords lost 24-32. 

     “It’s not a loss when you just do better the next time,” Sam Reisbord ’20 said. 

     Sam is right, but the team did not know that next year’s EA Day might not even happen. 

     Sixth Former A.J. Sanford, one of the school’s most elite athletes, said, “With cross country not always being the most exciting sport, seeing all of my classmates and faculty come out and watch my sophomore year was a moment I’ll never forget, and I wanted the same energy my senior year,” Sanford said.

     There is no doubt that this season has been different for A.J. and the rest of the team. 

     The uncertainty about having a fall cross country season posed new challenges for the runners, especially during summer training. Runners had to stay motivated to run despite an unclear future season. 

     Fifth Former varsity runner Colin Stewert recalled his spring and summer training.

 “I wasn’t even sure we’d have a season.”

Colin Stewart ’22

    “I wasn’t even sure we’d have a season, and that sadness on top of the sort of isolation that you go through during quarantine really took a toll on my ability to effectively train over the summer,” Stewart said.

     Since school has opened and the team is back to a normal routine, runners have felt more normal and more motivated. 

     The team’s excitement grew when the Inter-Ac announced a short three-meet season over the next few weeks. Though the season is short, runners like Fifth Former Jeffrey Yang are pumped.

     “I am excited that the Inter-Ac has worked to create some meets that [the] team can strive to perform well at and keep [them] motivated,” Yang said.

     Along with the changes as a result of COVID-19, the cross country team also welcomed a new head coach, Micheal Toomey. Having coached high school, collegiate, and open-level running for over 23 years, Coach Toomey is more than equipped to coach the boys to a successful season. 

     “Each practice, I’ve felt challenged and pushed to my limits, but at the same time, I am confident that I will walk away a better runner and tougher human being,” Senior runner Ryan Ngo said. “I’m really grateful for Coach Toomey’s positive energy and his willingness to adapt to our team culture.”