Sunday, November 11, 2012

Jack at New York State X-C Championships

Nick Ryan from Fayetteville-Manlius led from start to finish!
After six years of disciplined work, yesterday, my son Jack ran in the 2012 N York State Cross Country  Championship meet at Elma Meadows, in Elma, New York. Competing in the Class A race, he had the great opportunity to run against the best of the best in New York State. It had been a goal of his since he began running modified cross-country at Fairport high school as a seventh grader, and performing well-enough at last weekend Section 5 Championship secured his place on the state team. along with a collection of very strong boy's and girls student-athletes from across out region. The honor of making the roster (by virtue of a top ten finish at the sectional meet) was further enhanced by the reality that Fairport runs in the most challenging class, Class A. Annually, making the team is very difficult.

Focusing at the start minutes before the gun.
Fairport High School has a wonderful Cross Country tradition, and as the only boy to make the state team in four years from there was a tremendous accomplishment. I was incredibly proud to have Jack earn the chance to be part of the state team experience, something I myself have only had from the perspective of a coach chaperoning his athletes at the meet. Leaving school early the day before to take a team bus to a team dinner and spend the night in a hotel with your peers is an experience that few high school student-athletes have the chance to have and I am glad he had this. As this is his senior year, and he'll be graduating in June, it was especially meaningful.

With a great opportunity, though, comes a great deal of pressure (I'm sure) not from his coaches (both of whom are excellent) or his family, but from within.
Staying warm, ready to go!
The boys Class A team from Section V did an excellent representing our region. Before even running it was good to see such a high level of camaraderie between the boys. This is a unique element to cross-country: despite being very competitive, the boys (and girls) are very supportive of one another. Traveling together, eating together, warming up together and ultimately racing against one another will do that to you I suppose. If only all sports, and adult activities had the same sort of social trajectory...

Section V's Best of Class A at the line...

... and they're off!
The start of the Class A boys race, the final one of the day's events, came at 12:30 p.m., right on schedule. Elma Meadows is a golf course, so despite being fairly wide open, it was not the best spectator course. The layout of the course did look challenging, due to a number of rolling hills and (due to weather and wear) somewhat muddy surface conditions. The start of the race (pictured) above) is up a slowly ascending grade of course.

Solid form at just over one mile.
Following the start, spectators could move back abut 20 yards, behind yellow "Caution" tape, to see the boys at just over the one mile mark. At this point, the course went downhill and into an area beyond my view. Were I faster, or younger, I may have been able to see the middle of the race. My school's boys team coach, there working with one of our boys who had also triumphed in making the team) opted to make his way out to the two mile mark rather than see the start. Were I coaching and not watching I may have done the same thing.

Looking strong for the final half mile.
At roughly the 2.8 mile mark, the point at which after jogging about .4 miles the race came back into easy view, the boys were met with a sharp right turn down a (by this point in the day) fairly muddy, chewed-up downhill. Upon reaching the bottom and veering right again, the finish would be within the athlete's field of vision. Jack looked to be running well, but I also suspected that (being the competitor he is), he would have preferred to be more in the mix at this point in the race. His determination to finish well, and to neatly wrap up an excellent high school cross-country "career," would also see him through to the finishing chute.

200 meters into the chute.
Still maintain good form, Jack made his way to the chute (which I could not reach in time to photograph). The race completed, while (wrongly) discouraged by his performance, he had a positive attitude about the performance. Many friends, new and old, and family were there to great him and laud his effort. It goes without saying (so why say it? Because!) that the family who had came to watch  were very proud with this achievement of having made the race and run it competitively.

Additionally, Section V represented itself very nicely by having three finisher's in the top 10 (Rush-Henrietta's Mickey Burke placed 2nd, R-H's Brendan Root was 8th,  and Greece Athena's Keith Pease placed 8th), Jack was the eighth Class Section V finisher (and fifteenth overall), capping off an overall stellar season.

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