Cushing's girls’ and boys’ XC squads finished their seasons at the New England Class B Cross Country Championships this past Saturday. The girls’ team finished 14th of 14 teams, and the boys’ team finished 2nd of eighteen teams. Three members of the boys’ team were named to the All New England team by virtue of their top 20 finishes in Saturday's race. Racing in a field of 125 runners, tri-captain Jordan Comeau '14 finished 12th, tri-captain Spencer Ralston '14 finished 4th, and Chernet Sisay '13 finished first. In doing so, he became the first Penguin to win an individual XC title since CA alumnus and assistant coach, Sintayehu Taye, did so in the fall of 2007. Nick Sorokin '14 and Giulio Bercellesi '13 finished 28th and 54th respectively and rounded out the boys’ scoring five. Clayton Sandage '14 and Jack Rong '13 were the other two members of the varsity seven. The combined team score was 99 points, 15 points more than the 84 points scored by the winning team from The Governor's Academy. Cushing finished ahead of Roxbury Latin, Tabor, Williston, Hopkins, St. Mark's, Groton, Westminster, BB&N,Suffield, Worcester, Nobles, Berkshire, Kent, Salisbury, Hebron and Thayer.
The boys' varsity race kicked off the day's racing. At the halfway point, Sisay of Cushing trailed the leader from Suffield Academy by about 25 meters. Battling through pain caused by a nagging calf injury, Sisay caught up to and made a strong move past the leader early in the second half of the race. Shortly thereafter, the Suffield runner dropped out of the competition allowing Sisay to do just enough to maintain his lead to the finish line. Approaching the halfway point, Spencer Ralston was in 2nd place. He fell back as far as fifth, but he was able to work his way up to 4th in the closing stages of the race, thereby improving upon his finish from last year by two places. Behind him, Jordan Comeau was having what would be considered a sub-par race for him, but he was nonetheless able to grind out a very respectable 12th place finish. Last year, Jordan was fifth at the New Englands. Cushing's first three runners scored 17 points, 45 points fewer than the first three runners for the winning team, and at least 34 points lower than the first three runners for every other team. If the title were based on the performance of a team's top three runners we would have won comfortably. Even if the race had been scored four runners deep, the victory would have been ours. Of course, wishes are not horses, beggars do not ride them, and cross country races score a team's top five runners, not their top three or four. The truth is that as a pair, our #4 and #5 exceeded pre-race expectations. Nick Sorokin ran what was easily his best race of the season at just the right time; in his first ever season of XC, he was only eight places and twenty seconds away from making the All New England team. #5, Giulio Bercellesi, also competing in his first ever season of XC, began the season as a 24 minute 47 second 5k runner and improved his personal best by an outstanding 5 minutes over the course of the next two months. All things considered, the scoring five did a great job under challenging conditions and their efforts should be lauded. On Saturday, they beat several teams whom they had lost to just weeks before including Tabor, Williston, Hopkins, Groton and Worcester.
Sisay, Ralston and Comeau made it a total of 23 times that Penguins have been named to the All New England class B XC boys’ team since 2005. The 2nd place finish is the highest finish the boys have recorded since winning the NE championship in 2008. For the last two years, the boys' team has finished fifth at the New Englands.
The girls' varsity race featured a Cushing team comprised of just five runners total (of a possible seven) and only one who had run cross-country before this fall. The team's last place finish hardly reflects just how much effort the athletes put into their training and racing in the last two months. Thanks and congratulations to our team of five for all of their hard work this season. The Cushing girls’ varsity squad was made up of captain Stephanie Martin '14, Mikayla Martinez '13, Natalie Flynn '13, Tania Nauman '13 and Savannah Zhong '15.
In the boys’ junior varsity race, the Penguins finished 12th of 18 schools and were represented by 11 runners, including 4 freshmen and 3 sophomores. Our scoring five consisted of three freshmen: Edwin Forrester (24th of 139), Zach Feldman (66th), and Jack Fay (67th), one sophomore, Thomas Akukwe (79th), and one senior, Paul Gao (56th). Hariz Jeffery, Kyle Williamson, tri-captain and four-year senior, Nicky Merrill, Cyrus Chan, SaiKei Ho and Shane Fu were the other Cushing JV runners.
Next Saturday, Spencer Ralston will represent Cushing at the New England All Star XC meet, a race that brings together the top New England performers from each of the different divisions. Comeau and Sisay will pass on that race in order to get some much needed rest and recovery, but the following Saturday, during Thanksgiving break, Comeau will travel to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, New York, to take part in the Footlocker Northeast competition - the regional qualifier for the national high school championships. Please wish them luck when you see them around!
Thanks to all of the friends of Cushing XC who made the long trip up to Hebron, Maine, to support our runners, and thanks as well as to the other supporters who came out to support us or who sent their best wishes during the season. A special thank you for Mr. Ralston for capturing so many of our races on video and with photos. Be sure to check them out by clicking here
Final race results are here: