by Levi Veleanu ’20

The 2019 Springside Chestnut Hill Academy boys varsity cross country team is not just training to perform in tomorrow’s practice or next week’s race, but for the competition of next year and the years after that. While SCH soccer looks to capitalize off back-to-back state titles and the football team continues their winning streak, cross country is in a building year for the program. 

A major focus of this year’s cross country team is the development and mentorship of the younger runners on the team. There are six talented and inspired underclassman in the group, especially in the current sophomore class of 2022. However, talent and a desire to perform is only a small part of what leads a program to long-term success. SCH Upper School history teacher and cross country coach Kevin Harris knows the characteristics of a winning team, and what needs to happen on the end of the younger team members if they want to reach their potential and lead the program in the coming years. 

“I think if they continue to work, work over the summer, stay healthy, kind of stick with it over the next two years,” said Harris. “I think we’ll have a much stronger team in the inter-ac.”

Harris is excited to develop the program, but also noted that having a younger group is not a detriment to this year’s team, and it is an asset that he already has a relationship with the future leaders and captains, and that they have talent and experience early on in their high school careers. 

When it comes to the current cross country program, it really does take a village. Senior team member Tyler Southworth felt that the current senior class of 2020, and especially the captains have done a good job mentoring the up and coming runners. 

“I think our captains are trying to motivate and lead our underclassman and teach them what to do, so they can become captains when they’re seniors” said Southworth.

The current culture of the program is built by the commitment and leadership skills of the senior class, and if the captains of the future do not embody the same qualities, longstanding success is unlikely to be accomplished.

Of course, the biggest burden is on the younger runners. As Coach Harris expressed, it is up to them to pull their weight and continue to grow and improve. Oliver Moscow, SCH Class of 2022, knows he is up to the task.

“I am excited but I also know that it will be a big responsibility” said Moscow. “We will have to be consistent and enthusiastic about running which is hard to do since it is such a mental sport.” 

Building an athletic program up to its full potential is always difficult, but the boys cross country team has the pieces it needs to perform at the highest level in the upcoming seasons. The team will finish out their league competition in the Inter-Ac Championships at Belmont Plateau on October 21st, their biggest race of the year.