Despite an impressive victory at the Manhattan Borough Championships, the boys’ cross country team suffered a devastating fifth-place finish in the City Championships, held on Saturday, November 14. Stuyvesant finished a mere 15 points behind fourth place Bronx High School of Science. Although they swept the top five places at the Manhattan Borough Championships on Saturday, October 31 without senior and captain Daniel Hyman-Cohen and senior Elvis Mitropolous, this did not satisfy a team that was hoping to be a contender at States.
Mendes noted that the team has not lost a Borough Championship this century. Junior Andy Chen said that the team “[expected] to win Boroughs,” and that it is the City Championships that really matter, since the top four teams from cities advance to the State Championships. Chen said that the team usually advances to States. “This year it’s iffy, since we’ve had injuries and sicknesses,” Chen said. “We are in the fight for states—it’s just not as certain as usual.”
Junior Oren Bukspan noted that Boroughs did not do much to raise the confidence of the team. “The victory was nice, but it was also expected,” Bukspan said. “Most runners were unsatisfied with their performances, but a victory is still a victory.”
When the championship part of the season nears, Mendes tries to decrease the mileage his team runs so they will not tire for their important races. Early in the season, the team runs between 40 and 60 miles per week, according to Mendes, though he said, “Mileage drops and intensity increases as we approach the Championship part of the season.”
Last year’s City Championship team has all but disintegrated. Three of the runners graduated and only two members of last year’s team, Mitropolous and Hyman-Cohen, ran in the Championship race.
The team went into the City Championships ranked sixth in the final pre-race poll. “For us, being Manhattan champs is not enough. Stuyvesant undoubtedly has the best Cross Country team in Manhattan, but our true competition lies in the outer boroughs. City champs is what we have been training for all season, and we will not be defeated easily. This weekend, we will see which team is truly the best in New York City. Every runner on our team will need to run their best if Stuyvesant is to qualify for the State Championships,” Chen said before the race.
Although Hyman-Cohen placed second in the city with a time of 16:58 at cities, Stuyvesant’s next runner, sophomore Konrad Surkont, came in 14th place. They both qualified individually for the State championship, but Stuyvesant as a team placed fifth overall in the race and only the top four teams qualify for states. It is the first time since Mendes has began coaching at Stuyvesant that the team has not qualified for states.
“We had a very young team. We had four sophomores, three juniors, and three seniors in our top 10,” said Mendes.
Although having such a young team this year might have cost them a trip to states, it could benefit them next year. Four of the top seven runners will return next year, giving them another experienced team. The loss of Hyman-Cohen will be crippling, but Mendes still has the depth to rebuild a strong team next year.