Can you imagine waking up at 7:00 a.m. on a rainy Saturday morning, lacing up your sneakers, and heading out for a six-mile run? Sounds like a formidable mission, doesn’t it? The JP Stevens cross country team consists of a dedicated group of runners who run for – wait for it – fun. While we groan at the ever so daunting task of running “straights and curves” during gym class, the cross country team is out there everyday, constantly pushing themselves to reach higher limits. In the words of Parag Bapna, “We’re better this year than ever before, and we’re ready to make a name for ourselves at counties and beyond.”
As of now, the boys’ team, poised to be the first cross country team in years to qualify for groups, holds a 6-2 record. Coach Allen, commenting on the progress of his team, says, “The team is working hard, and they are only going to get better as the season progresses.” The cross country team traveled to Washington D.C. for a tournament. Their “A” relay team placed ninth in a race against thirty other teams. Led by team captains, senior Parag Bapna and juniors Panth Patel and Mark Cooke, the boys’ varsity team recently ran an impressive race, finishing fourth and missing third place by merely two points at the Central Jersey Shootout invitational at Thompson Park.
More recently, the Hawks placed fourth in the Old Bridge Classic, falling twenty-five seconds short of third. Being the only freshman on the varsity team, Robert Catinello says that he has been welcomed with open arms and that he feels like the cross country team is a family to which he looks to for support and advice. Already immersed in the winning tradition, he adds, “Our goal by the end of the season is to be one of the best teams in the county.” Robert is currently placed as the second fastest freshman in the state.
The girls’ cross country team, led by captains Connie Yu and Katie Tencza, has an amazing record of 4-1. According to Katie, “We have a lot of great girls this year who work really hard at practice every day. Together, I think we can do very well this season.” Just recently, the team faced a tough Old Bridge squad, and after a grueling race, the Hawks managed to capture the well-earned victory. After the race, Captain Connie Yu said, “GMCs are quickly approaching, and we are looking forward to a strong, medal-clanking end of the season.” They look ahead to more difficult challenges but aren’t afraid to face them, confident that their hard work and sweat will pay off.
Both teams look to improve as a whole as they train daily and strive to overcome every challenge and hurdle that is thrown at them. The end of their season is sure to hold many victories and memories for the team as they work toward their ultimate goal: being unstoppable.