Long run over the cross country season

The Jesuit High School cross country team does not receive a lot of attention, so students may not know that the team consistently adds new pennants in the Father Barry gym. This year’s team was one of the best in recent history, not only because of the talent, but because of the runner’s ability to step up in times of adversity.

The season for the varsity cross country team did not start out as planned. The unfortunate injury of Matt Strangio ’20 compromised the team’s chances for success early in the season. Fortunately, other runners were able to step up their game to keep the team competitive until Strangio came back.

“Our whole varsity team and top JV guys really stepped up this,” Matt said. “We really wanted to make NxN [Nike Cross Nationals] as a team, but California was loaded this year.”

Even without Strangio, the team was able to place second at the De La Salle Invitational and win the Bella Vista Bronco Invitational and the Hoka Postal Nationals. When Strangio returned for the league championship meet, the team scored 19 points, four points away from a perfect 15.

“The varsity team impressed all year with their consistency and pack running in meets, while top runner Matt Strangio sat out with an injury, the other guys stepped up led by Colin Ryan, Chase Gordon, Antonio Vargas, Anthony Rogado, Gabe Lovely, Miles Worthen and Colin Brannan,” said Assistant Coach Mr. Zielke.

The consistent performances instilled a sense of confidence in all of the runners throughout the season.

“I will never forget the phrase ‘sections finna be a breeze’ because I said it at the beginning of the season, and we ended up winning sections with only 19 points,” said runner Gabe Lovely ’19.

After placing first in league and sections and qualifying to state, the team continued their hot streak and placed fifth with Strangio coming in first and qualifying for nationals. Coach Zielke credits the team’s success to hard work and determination.

“High quality and consistent training is a huge part of success in Cross Country, so we emphasize the importance of practice participation, keeping a training log, and monitoring progress by each runner over the course of the season,” Coach Zielke said.

Even though the season’s success was a team effort, Strangio stood out. He won state after coming back from an injury, only to later go on to nationals and placed eighth, making him an All-American.

“Winning state in cross country was really big for me,” Matt said. “Only one other Jesuit runner has won a cross country state championship and when he won, we were D2.”

Reflecting on the season, the cross country team deserves recognition. The team has had some remarkable achievements and it is time to start congratulating our fellow Marauders.