The Greyducks’ cross country season kicked off on Saturday, September 24 with the PSAL Group Run and Varsity Races, for both the boys’ and girls’ teams, in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
Going into week one, the boys’ team, led by Coach Mark Mendes, was ranked the number one cross country team by the PSAL. However, the team was not expecting to come out on top overall in the Saturday’s meet. “The purpose of the group run for us was to begin identifying the seven athletes who will represent Stuyvesant in the PSAL Championship race on November 12,” Mendes said.
Furthermore, many of the boys’ top runners did not participate in the competition. Junior and co-captain Jack Stevenson and sophomore Jeremy Karson chose to run in a non-PSAL meet, the Xavier Invitational, later that day, in order to face unfamiliar competition. Senior and co-captain Konrad Surkont did not run in either of Saturday’s meets due to a suspension from Athletic Director and Assistant Principal of Health and Physical Education Larry Barth for perpetual lateness to school. The next meet he will be able to participate in is the Manhattan College Invitational on Sunday, October 9.
Nevertheless, the male Greyducks placed sixth overall in the citywide meet. Junior Cameron Abma placed 20th overall and first for Stuyvesant in the 5k varsity race. “My time was 18:58 and a personal record, so that was really good,” Abma said. He solidified his position as their fifth man.
In the varsity race, seniors Yorkbell Jaramillo and Ivaylo Madzharov, and junior Evan Schechter placed 26th, 31st, and 32nd respectively. In the frosh race, Eric Chen placed fourth, and in the sophomore race, Andy Zhang placed second.
The team is hoping to use its top rank to its advantage this season as the boys face harder competition. “It’s definitely tougher than last year. Last year, we knew where we were, but this year we’re a lot more unsure,” Stevenson said.
Conversely, the female Greyducks, led by Coach Kristyn Pluchino, were not the favorite in Saturday’s meet and were not ranked in the top ten cross country teams in the city.
Going into the meet, the girls were excited to begin the season and to see where they stand in relation to the rest of the city. “It’s just the beginning of the season so there’s not a lot of pressure. It’s not City’s or anything,” junior Helen Nie said.
However, greatly exceeding expectations, the Greyducks came in second overall in the meet. Seniors and co-captains Karen Zheng, Jenny Fung, and Hema Lochan, juniors Helen Nie and Dina Levy-Lambert, and sophomores Stephanie Liang and Vera Pertsovskaya ran in the varsity 5k. Six of the seven varsity runners placed between 11th and 19th with times ranging from 23:52 to 25:06. Nie, who was running with an injured knee, placed 43rd, with a time of 27:08, which is significantly lower than her normal 5k times between 23 and 24 minutes.
Their success in Saturday’s meet is important for the girls, because it displays their excellent progress from previous seasons. “This is definitely the team I’ve coached with the most potential,” Pluchino said.
Like the boys’ team, the girls’ ultimate goal is to use this potential to work toward the City Championships. “It’s a nice reward [to show] that our hard work is paying off. Of course we’re going to try to get better and improve as a team, so this just motivates us a lot,” Lochan said.