Cross country builds strength for competition and community

Michael Crutchlow ’25 in action in last year’s EA Day – Communications

Building on a tight community fostered last season, the cross-country team returns excitedly for healthy competition and communal spirit. This fall, traditional Sixth Form leadership takes on a new form, with the only Sixth Former, Nolan McCloskey, captaining alongside Fifth Formers Will Suter and Finn Kelly. With Mr. Brian Long returning for his second year as head coach, all are ready to start the season.

Preseason training began two weeks ago, setting expectations and preparing athletes for soon-approaching meets.

“We’ve been running every day,” McCloskey said. “Coach Long sets our running program. For example, a week might consist of three steady runs, two workouts, an easy day, and a long run—an hour and fifteen minutes of running which usually equates to about 10 miles.”

With fewer upperclassmen on the roster, the team has relied on splitting into two cohorts.

“Because of the difference in workload, the coaches made the difficult decision to split up the A squad and B squad guys a bit more this season,” McCloskey shared. “Both groups do some of the warmup and cooldown together, but run independently.”

While permitting younger and newer runners to optimize their training, split practices limit team bonding. 

“Preseason is the first chance we get to build a team with a strong community that leads us through the year,” Kelly said.

To promote team brotherhood, leaders have introduced other activities outside of training.

“We’ve been running whole-team activities after preseason practices, such as playing wiffleball or going out to get food,” McCloskey said. “As the school year starts, it’s important that the older guys talk to the younger members of the team outside of practice, even if that just means saying ‘hi’ in the hallways,” McCloskey said.

In the switch to school-year practices, the team is stressing good habits.

“Up through the first few meets of the year we’re much more concerned with getting in the best possible shape we can for the back-half of the season,” McCloskey said. “I think everyone is excited to compete and show off the results of the summer and preseason work. Personally, I’ve been making sure that I’m stretching sore areas, drinking enough water, eating enough protein, and getting enough sleep so that my body can recover well. We try to stress these things as they really do make a difference.”

“A specific team we have our eyes on is Penn Charter. They just barely beat us at Inter-Ac’s last year, but I think that we’ll have them beat by the end of this year.”

Finn Kelly ’25

Team leaders expect the commitment to rigorous training to yield results, setting goals for strong performances in upcoming competitions.

McCloskey said, “The cross-country team is looking the most competitive it has in quite a while. We have many great runners on the team, and we are looking forward to placing well at meets, especially at the Inter-Ac Championships which is always one of the biggest and most exciting races of the season, and of course at EA Day.”

Specific competitions from last year motivate the team’s performance in certain meets.

“A specific team we have our eyes on is Penn Charter. They just barely beat us at Inter-Ac’s last year, but I think that we’ll have them beat by the end of this year,” Kelly said.

The team will compete at its first meet on September 12th. As they grow more competitive, so too does their bond.

“I think the vibes this year are great, and it only takes one look at the team before practice to realize that,” McCloskey said. “The team has a very bright future with nearly everyone on the team still having at least another year after this season.”

Author: Christopher Schwarting '24

Christopher Schwarting has been writing for the Index since 2020 and will serve as an Editor-in-Chief. His opinion piece "Queen Elizabeth leaves a lasting legacy, but Gen Z must be sure to see it all" received a Silver Key in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. When not working on the paper, he can be found writing poems and editing the school's literary magazine, Pegasus.