By Alicia Dziak

Led by coach Chad Russell and assistant coach Steven Dillsworth, both teachers in the district, SGI’s Varsity cross country team is made up of 15 girls and 16 boys, ranging from 7th to 12th grades.

“My goals for the season as a coach are to make an environment for the students that they are comfortable in and that they want to come to practice,” said Russell. He added that he also hopes “that they can enjoy success and failures together with other peers that genuinely care about each other’s progress.”

Russell also hopes the team will win the division this year.

The team gets to compete on various area courses, with home base being Sprague Brook Park. “The favorite course is the course of the Boston Mud Run during the summer, ‘cause its muddy and the teammates take lots of pictures,” said Russell.

The cross country team trains hard, logging many miles each week. “The stronger Varsity athletes run 25-35 miles a week,” Russell explained. “Some athletes have progressed their training to the upper ends, 40-50 miles.”

This dedication pays off. “Elle Russell has been a rock for the team for years and she finished 31st in the state last year,” Russell noted.  “Sonya Krezmien, Samantha Fruehauf, Morgan Lukert and Gwen Fruehauf are doing most of the heavy work for this season.  But the real strength is the pack of girls behind them that constantly push the top 5 to continue to work if they wish to keep their place on the team.”

On the boys side, Russell said, “The guys have had a few leaders so far in this season. Nick Abdo, and Kurt Uschold have been the upperclassmen strength of the team.  Brett Russell and Nathan Myers have come in first in different races for the Griffs.  Zack Peterman, along with Nate and Brett, make a nice pack of 9th and 10th graders who look really promising for a solid team for a few years to come.”

The team next competes in an invitational on Saturday, Oct. 1, and at home against Eden on Oct. 4.