Many athletes choose to run as a way to stay in shape for their main sport, but if their main sport is track and field, the best choice for the offseason is to run cross-country in the fall. Cross-country can seem very unappealing, and is even a supposed “curse word” for most sprinters, but several of them took up the challenge after coaches Nikki Rosee and Camisha McKenzie-Laurent encouraged all the sprinters at the end of the spring track season to give cross-country a shot.
“Every sprinter is amazed by the strength and endurance that distance runners have,” McKenzie-Laurent said. “I encouraged all sprinters to run cross-country because it would be a great time for them to put in the conditioning and strengthening.”
Devin Frank, Edward Lima-Heese, Nadia Adams and Dhatri Sangasani were the few sprinters that accepted the challenge.
“I joined cross-country because both coaches thought it would be a good idea to do some distance work for improving my endurance,” Frank said.
During track, Frank was originally running short sprints, but in the past year he transitioned to slightly longer middle distances like the 400-meter. One may question why a sprinter would choose to run a large sum of mileage per week if they are only training for a few hundred meters, but besides speed and strength, the ultimate trick to the 400-meter race is having good endurance.
Adams needed a little more encouragement to join and had planned to merely participate in conditioning workouts. Once she started to get in shape though, she found herself enjoying cross-country more than expected. “Although I was told I wouldn’t have to compete as much, I look forward to every meet,” Adams said.
While the season may have started out to be difficult, both the boys and girls have made admirable strides within the team. Frank routinely runs in the top group during practices and is an alternate for the varsity team.
“I am already used to workouts like hills, but road runs are completely new,” Frank said. “I think that I have found a sense of the pacing needed for those long runs though, and I’m able to stay near the front pack.”
As for Adams, pushing herself during workouts has resulted in great improvements in both her physical and mental capabilities. “One of my favorite aspects of cross-country is how it’s not only physically challenging but also mentally challenging,” she said. “In every race, you have to constantly push and cheer for yourself to keep on going even when the only thing you want to do is to give up.”
Adams’ determination has landed her as the fifth scorer for the girls varsity team.
“I am really impressed with each of their performances and commitment to the team,” McKenzie-Laurent said. “Their presence is new, fresh and encouraging to the veterans.”
The team is now halfway through the season with only five more meets to go. The girls varsity team had a slow start with only 10 girls on the team, though that number is solid compared to prior years when Edgemont couldn’t field a scoring five. The team took a major hit when sophomores Amanda Jaffe and Lauren Allan chose not to run cross-country this year after having been the top two finishers in their eighth-grade and freshman seasons.
Once everyone began to get into shape this fall, however, things began to pick up with captain Nora Butler leading the pack and Michelle Low, Charlotte Dow and Marisa Niedzielska following. At their most recent meet, the Gressler Invitational in White Plains, Edgemont placed fifth of 13 schools.
As for the boys varsity, the Panthers have improved from past years. They find no difficulty in having enough boys to compete in the varsity races, and with the work they’ve put in so far they are a solid group. Greg Florio, Kazu Araki, Dylan Cecere, Daniel Liu and Atticus Margulis-Ohnuma are consistently five of the top finishers.
“The team is strong and focused. I believe that each athlete breaks their personal self-goal each practice and competition,” McKenzie-Laurent said. “Before the season is over we will have at least seven more PRs.”