By HARSHA GOPALAKRISHNAN, junior
It’s that time of the year again, when the leaves start falling, temperatures start dropping, and a select group of resilient students starts logging times. With lofty goals in mind, the JP Stevens Cross Country teams are “up and running.” The runners are determined to not only improve their personal records but also contribute to a winning season, further solidifying their dominance among New Jersey’s high schools.
The boys’ team started the season strong, sealing decisive victories over Edison High, North Brunswick, and East Brunswick, among others. In dual meets, captain Panth Patel (12) perpetually leads the charge, followed by talented Daniel Galarza (11) as well as nationally ranked hurdler, captain Mark Cooke (12). Rounding out the top seven for the boys’ team in meets are Jose delli Paoli (12), Robert Catinello (10), Aaron John (10), and Shanvith Madhirala (12).
At a recent face-off at the Battle of Ocean County, one of their main invitationals, the boys proved that their skills are spread across the entire team. Despite being surrounded by competitive players from teams all around the county, including South Brunswick, Old Bridge, and South Plainfield, each runner sprinted towards the finish line with an unwavering resolution to succeed. Medals were given to the top thirty-five runners of each race, which included Panth Patel, Daniel Galarza, Mark Cooke, Shanvith Madhirala, and Jose delli Paoli. With these impressive finishes, the senior boys placed second out of twenty-five competing teams. Nihar Mahidadia (9) and Aakash Srivastava (9) carried their freshmen team to a third place finish overall. The boys also have notable wins against Sayreville and St. Joseph, further advancing themselves to the top of the county. Co-captain Mark Cooke, when asked about the character of the team, adds, “We train hard, we work hard, [and] we run hard, but true motivation and dedication come from within.”
The girls’ team is also looking to make this season memorable. Starting off with a strong showing at the Battle at Ocean County, the JP Stevens girls’ cross country team is looking to finish the season as a force to be reckoned with. Their record is currently 4-3, despite having players benched by injuries and the lack of seniors on the varsity team. Fortunately, captain Ashleigh Anderson (11), assisted by Elizabeth Chiu (9), Reggie Ramekar (9), Brillian Bao (10), and Megan Gregory (11), proved sturdy under pressure, providing strong results in several dual meets against heavyweights like South Brunswick and Old Bridge. Juniors Urvi Saini and Soumya Karne also assist in providing leadership and experience for the team. Ashleigh Anderson praises the girls’ high ambitions and remarks, saying “We are motivated and competitive because it only takes one knock to the ground to get ourselves to realize that we can’t let this happen again.” The tenacity and discipline shown by the team is truly exceptional. The Lady Hawks will continue to race through the season, ready to show that the odds mean nothing when hard work is involved.
After the girls’ and boys’ teams placed 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the GMCs, the runners plan to focus their efforts on the even more prestigious Sectional competition. Both teams will endeavor to lower their times and push their limits. As the summer fades into a chilly autumn, we will inevitably continue to hear the soft crackle and crunch of our Hawks jogging through the leaves, working to end the season victoriously.