Hunter Cross-Country Teams Leave Their Mark Upstate
Hawks fly high at Bard, piling up individual awards along the way
“I believe our school had the longest drive to this meet out of all the other schools competing,” said Ed Zarowin, coach of both the men’s and women’s teams.
The long drive up didn’t seem to weaken the Hawks’ fighting spirit in the least. “I ran this race last year and knew exactly what to expect,” said Youseph Anwar, a returning sophomore. “[Bard is] one of my favorite courses,” said Christian Rojas, also a returning sophomore.
The team’s optimism paid off in the end. There were a total of twelve teams competing for the men and fourteen teams for the women—seventeen and eighteen respectively when accounting for incomplete teams.
In the 5K on the women’s side, Hunter senior Lizzy Mahoney, who broke a meet record at the same course last year, was the first Hawk to cross the finish line (and sixth runner overall) with a time of 19:49, earning her a top-twenty medal. “I’m excited to have this one behind us and to work toward the races coming up,” she said. Following closely behind Mahoney was junior Stephie-Anne Duliepre with a time of 20:45, good enough for eighteenth place overall and another top-twenty medal.
Coming in third and fourth place for Hunter were Shantel Peters in thirty-eighth place overall and Mary Leong in forty-first place overall, with times of 22:40 and 22:43 respectively. “I was very nervous going into this race, but when the gun went off I tried my best to put all the negative thoughts behind me,” said Peters. Jenny Son was the fifth Hunter girl to cross the finish line, coming in fifty-sixth place overall with a time of 23:59, an improvement of more than two minutes from her run the previous week. Daniela Pereira and Tinesha Thorne, both freshmen, closed the race for the Hawks in sixty-ninth and ninety-ninth places, at 24:37 and 28:57 respectively. The women totaled 131 points and finished fifth amongst the fourteen teams.
On the men’s side, freshman John Aiken continued to impress by coming in first for the Hawks for the second week in a row (and sixth overall) with a time of 28:48. “I enjoyed this race. It wasn’t too difficult. I’m excited for the rest of the year,” he said.
Just shy of Aiken, teammate Christian Rojas crossed the finish line in eighth place with a time of 29:03. “Could’ve done much better if we were allowed to race 110%,” he said, “but it was a nice performance.” Freshman Ari Shabi finished twentieth overall with a time of 31:31. Diego Buen and Richard Barbecho were neck and neck at the finish line in thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth place with times of 32:52 and 32:55. “Overall, I improved greatly, had fun, and challenged myself. It’s all about the conquest of the self,” Barbecho said, giving voice to one of cross-country’s most important challenges—the mind. Geovani Valerio finished forty-third overall with a personal best of 33:27, while Anwar closed it out for the men in seventy-seventh place, also with a personal best of 37:31, almost two minutes off of his course time from a year ago. The men racked up a total of eighty-six points and took home a trophy for finishing third overall out of the twelve teams participating.
In addition to the strong team efforts put forth so far by the women’s and the men’s teams, there has also been a lot of attention given to the individual runners. After the first week of the season, sophomore Justin Lee was named the CUNYAC/ US Army Men’s Cross-Country Athlete of the Week. “I’m glad I won it this year. I think I should’ve won it last year,” he said.
Lee has been making a name for himself since joining the team in 2011. At the Baruch Invitational on September 10th, at the Hawks’ home course in Van Cortlandt Park, Lee continued to display his talent as he crossed the finished line second overall out of eighty-one runners. Lee ran a time of 29:36 for his first 8K of the season. Originally from Flushing, Lee ran cross-country and both indoor and outdoor track & field all four years at Townsend Harris High School before joining the team at Hunter. Aiken, close on Lee’s heels, took home back-to-back CUNYAC/US Army Player of the Week Awards in weeks two and three of the season.
Both Lee and Aiken have stumbled into cross-country almost by chance. “My friend got me into it senior year of high school. I just wanted to get in shape,” said Aiken. Meanwhile, Lee admits being forced by his brother to join the team the summer before his freshman year of high school. Nevertheless, running has an interesting way of capturing the individuals who dedicate themselves to it. “I’ll be working toward a personal best, the awards will just come with it,” Lee said. As long as they keep up with that attitude, the cross-country runners are in for a very successful season.