By Coach John Michel and Coach John Stimson
After more than a year without school sports, the MMFS Lightning Runners were eager to get back outdoors and…run! This season’s cross country team was young and inexperienced, with only one returning runner, junior Harry K. But all were hard working, showing a lot of promise.
Two weeks before the start of school, the 8-member team came together for some long preseason practices, to build for the 5-kilometer (3.1 mile) traditional cross country course. Shifting from the Brooklyn Bridge Park piers to the infamous hill at the foot of Columbia Heights, these runners soon built enough stamina to run the Manhattan Bridge—approximately the length of the traditional cross country course itself. By the first week of September, we were ready to head to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx to try out the official course—a 5-kilometer run through hilly, wooded terrain.
One month after our first practice, the team was well prepared for their first race, with Harry and sophomore Madeline B. placing in the top ten! But in this-and in each of the next—four —races every team member put in their very best efforts. Freshman Matthias C. quickly developed a friendly rivalry with his older teammate Harry, and soon was challenging him in every practice and meet. By the fourth and fifth races, he had managed to edge out Harry by seconds! Sophomores Jay C. and Matthew L. were also hard workers who began with little running experience yet finished the season strong—shaving off 8 and 3 minutes from their times, respectively. Freshmen Isaiah M. and James S. each made big strides in improving their running form, stamina—and subsequently—their race times as well. Jessie S. ran through several injuries, and despite the challenges, managed to improve her race time as well by more than 4 minutes over the course of the season.
By the end of the month, the team was gearing for the championship meet and all performed admirably. Madeline, in particular, had a spectacular race—placing fourth out of a field of 25 despite an ankle injury (!), winning a medal for her efforts.
This young team has grown and improved a great deal in just two short months of intense practice and competition. We look forward to seeing them all again next year—a more seasoned but equally hard working and competitive crew.
Click here to view photos from the 2021 Varsity Cross Country Season.