Sixth Formers Ben Szathmary and Colin Stewart both came to Haverford as new students in the fall of 2018. Since, they’ve grown close as friends, Mock Trial partners, and members of the track and cross-country teams.
This fall, they will take their relationship a step further as they co-captain the cross country squad.
Through unofficial, small-group captains’ practices during the summer and grueling weeks of preseason, Szathmary and Stewart believe the team is poised for success.
“During preseason, we’ve been doing a regular but intensive training schedule,” Stewart said. “We’ve been doing long mileage, and a lot of our top guys have started doubling—running twice a day.”
Stewart argues that this is a much-needed addition to the training.
“One of the biggest differences between a good and a great program are the two-a-days,” Stewart said.
The team is more motivated than ever to defeat their Inter-Ac rivals, and through their training regimen and focus on being deliberate, Szathmary and Stewart believe they can make the jump this year.
“This year we are really focusing on being intentional with everything we do. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing—we’re doing it properly and we’re doing it to the fullest extent. Whether that is warming up or stretching, we’re not skipping stuff or fooling around.”
“That’s our theme and word of the season: intentional. Each run, every single day, we’re trying to be intentional with every run we do.”Ben Szathmary ’22
Szathmary echoed Stewart’s sentiment.
“Our goal is always to do our best to nail every workout and be intentional,” Szathmary said. “That’s our theme and word of the season: intentional. Each run, every single day, we’re trying to be intentional with every run we do.”
Yet, in the midst of this focus on intentionality, the co-captains understand the importance of finding a balance and forming connections with their teammates.
“We’re still enjoying ourselves, but we’re enjoying ourselves in the process of taking everything seriously,” Stewart said. “Upperclassmen are also taking more of an active role of mentoring freshmen and sophomores.”
“We’re trying to have fun with it as much as possible because we don’t want this to be a drag on anybody,” Szathmary said. “It is supposed to be a fun sport.”
To build connections and camaraderie, the co-captains have employed several distinct methods, some traditional and others—not so much.
“Every year we have a special workout later in the season called the 400s; anybody who runs track or cross country knows that it is one of the hardest types of workouts you can do, and we do it on a hill which makes it even harder,” Stewart said. “It really hurts, but it also takes coordination to be able to do the workout because the coaches set goals for each rep, and the team gets a lot closer after that workout. [The team culture] is palpably different after we do that workout.”
Szathmary added, “In preseason, we’ve been playing games after practice, going out as a team to get ice cream, and we have days where we run with cutoff tank tops—all to have fun and build camaraderie.”
“[Our] relationship is very much a microcosm of the cross country team culture at large. Every run when we go out together, we are holding each other accountable not only for completing the workout but also doing it to the best of our ability.”Colin Stewart ’22
Over the past three years, Szathmary and Stewart have pushed each other to succeed through mutual competition and cooperation.
“[Our] relationship is very much a microcosm of the cross country team culture at large. Every run when we go out together, we are holding each other accountable not only for completing the workout but also doing it to the best of our ability. We get competitive and sometimes that leads to competing during practice but in the end that only pushes us to be better,” Stewart said.
Szathmary believes his friendship and competition with Stewart has been a key factor for their success.
“Good or bad, Colin and I support and encourage each other to be the best we can be,” Szathmary said. “We have been running together since freshman year, so we know each other on a personal level.”
The pair looks forward to taking on EA this fall.
Stewart said, “At the end of the season on EA Day, all that work that we put in throughout the season is what is in the front of our minds. Ben and I both understand how hard each other works and wants to win. We don’t want to let the other down, and so we push it past where we thought we could.”
Stewart extended this idea to the cross-country team at large.
“I think this mentality and relationship is what is so common in the cross-country team,” Stewart said. “It’s an incredibly unique team in that way, everything you do is to validate and redeem the work that your running partner and every other teammate has put in.”