Pushing the Pace: Cross Country Flyers Hit Their Stride

By John Phelan ’18

As the cross country season drew to a close, Chaminade runners traveled to Sunken Meadow State Park for the annual N.S.C.H.S.A.A. Championships on Sunday, October 30, 2016.  At the course in Kings Park, the freshman, junior varsity, and varsity teams looked to capture their respective league championships over Chaminade’s familiar rivals.  

Chaminade runners lead the pack during the race.
Chaminade runners lead the pack during the race.

Before the races began, runners from all competing teams gathered to celebrate Mass.  They then congregated for the presentation of two student-athlete awards.  The male award for the top N.S.C.H.S.A.A. cross country student-athlete was given to Chaminade’s Chris Loumeau ’17.  

As race time approached, the Chaminade coaches provided their runners with some important race strategies, while the parents of the team’s seniors continued the tradition of providing food and beverages for the runners.  

The performance of the Flyers in the Freshman B race, the first of the day, was an early indicator of the Flyers’ imminent success.   Individually, Christopher O’Connor ’20 turned in an impressive first-place finish.  As a team, the freshman Flyers on Team B also captured an overall first place team title.  The Flyers earned another first place title in the Freshman A race, thanks to top finishes by Seamus O’Callahan ’20, Kyle McLean ’20, and Douglas Stern ’20.

With the freshman races in the books, the remaining races would be run on the infamous Sunken Meadow 5K course.  Though the the scenery is beautiful, the course is demanding and filled with many changes in elevation, with heights ranging from 3ft to 173 feet above sea level.  Also, the notorious Cardiac Hill toward the end of the race is one reason why the course is regarded as extremely difficult.  However, the varsity and junior varsity Flyers were not hindered, performing with similar success to that of their freshmen counterparts.

The Flyers climb a steep hill at Sunken Meadow Park during the championships.
The Flyers climb a steep hill at Sunken Meadow Park during the championships.

The first team to take on the grueling course was the varsity team.  Patrick Conklin ’18 and Conor Fitzpatrick ’17 turned in phenomenal performances, individually finishing the respective 2nd and 3rd places in the race.  Overall, the varsity Flyers placed fourth in the closely contested race, trailing the winning team, St. John The Baptist, by a mere seventeen points.

The final race of the day was the junior varsity race.  Chaminade was confident from the start in its chances at capturing the gold; however, the team also knew achieving victory would be far from an easy task.  Chaminade took the lead as soon as the gun sounded and didn’t lose much ground through the demanding course.  Top finishes by Jack Hardy ’18 and James Moran ’18 contributed to a thrilling junior varsity victory.  The freshman and JV team suggest an auspicious transition into winter track and, later, to the varsity level.

Chaminade runners were generally content with their own performances and how the team raced as a whole.  “I am very pleased with our performance today,” said Patrick Conklin ’18. “I saw many great races as well as fantastic sportsmanship throughout the day.”

Though the N.S.C.H.A.A. championship is now in the rearview mirror, the Flyers are not done.  On Saturday, November 5, the freshman and sophomore teams will compete in the Intersectional Championships, followed by the junior varsity and varsity Intersectional Championships the following weekend.  As the junior varsity and freshman teams hope to claim victory once again, the varsity squad seeks to avenge its recent fourth place outing on Sunday and qualify for the New York State Federations Championship.  As the Flyers progress through the final straightaway of their season, the momentum from the N.S.C.H.S.A.A. Championships will push them toward new heights.