Last summer, my parents made me sign up for the RHS Cross Country team. I dreaded it as if it were a punishment. I saw how hard runners worked during their practices and how exhausting the season seemed. Knowing that the daily exercise would be good for my health, I followed through with the commitment and am now thankful that I did so. Last year’s season was a lot of fun and this year was even better.
Even if you do not enjoy running, cross country can still be a spectacular experience. Members meet many great people, have tone of fun, and feel good about the work they put in. To emphasize the success of this year’s cross country season, I asked several runners to reflect on their experience.
Junior Nick Santangelo stated that his time as a RHS cross country member has been valuable in providing him “personal athletic growth.” Junior runner Brendan Donahue claimed that “the season was a very fun and a beneficial experience for [me] as well as [my] peers. While running 4-5 miles a day is not commonly associated with optimism, running helped me with my school work, getting in shape, and overall feeling better daily.” One of the best junior runners on the cross country team, Mason Zamboldi, asserted that “as a team, the season is going very well. We won the county championship for the second year in a row. However, personally I think I could have done better.”
While this year’s team has been successful in competition, this has not been without obstacles. Varsity runner Will Baginski discussed some setbacks in the BMOC competition: “the team won, but my race was a little rough. Ryan and Taylor got tripped hard in the beginning but bounced back and ran well.” Despite the struggles that the team faced, Ridgewood’s boys varsity, girls varsity, and freshman team all won the BMOC meet and sectionals later on in the season. Senior runner Jeremy Savarese stated that “I was proud of my times and the last meet was very successful. I am proud of the team, proud of myself, and especially proud of Coach Ryan.”
Senior runner Paul Baginski, who was injured for most of the season, stated that his “season was up and down. I did run a personal best at the end of the season but I missed a month of the season due to tendonitis, which prevented me from having better races.” Paul’s brother, Tim, thought that the “season went fairly well, but it wasn’t perfect. However, I worked hard and had a good time with my teammates.”
Senior runners expressed their disappointment for their RHS cross country careers to be over. Savarese stated: “my life won’t be the same without cross country. It has been a huge part of my life. I met my family here. I’m going to miss it a ton in college.” Recognized as one of the most passionate cross country members, Tim Baginski said that “next year I’ll definitely miss cross country and being out running with my friends everyday.” Fahey shared that he is “going to miss everyone on the team a lot.” Wilson Crimmins, an ex-Ridgewood cross country member and current resident in Ohio, said that “I still run cross country at my high school, yet it is not the same. I miss all the kids on the Ridgewood team”.
For many runners, practices are a grueling experience. They push runners to train their hardest everyday with minimal breaks. After practice, however, runners enjoy a sense of accomplishment from pushing themselves. Despite the strenuity, cross country runners actually miss it when it is over and constantly recall the countless positive memories. Studies have shown that running is a valuable endeavor in all aspects: it is beneficial to managing school work. Looking back on the past few months, all runners seemed to have positive experiences. Whether they improved their physical health or had a great social experience, everyone got something out of the season. To those interested in being apart of a winning team, Will Baginski is optimistic about the upcoming years: “the future is bright and I am proud of how hard everyone on the team has worked.” Overall, members are currently reminiscing the fond times they have shared and look forward to next year, all while encouraging fellow peers to join and take part in such a valuable experience as well.
Graphic: Sofia Lee