On November 1st, the East Haven Cross Country team concluded their season by participating in the CIAC Class MM state meet at Wickham Park in Manchester. The team, although small, performed consistently well throughout the season and made the Yellowjackets proud.
Cross country is a sport focused on both teams and individuals running in open terrain courses. This means that the runners must be prepared for anything in their path-- rocks, roots, puddles, and steep hills. “Running 3.1 miles as fast as you can is not easy, not many people can do it. We aren’t just running on a flat surface, we run uphill and downhill with mud everywhere, we run through puddles. It can be very challenging” Senior Captain Juliana Espinoza commented. Mr. Rick Naracci coached the team for the first time this year, implementing fresh coaching techniques to the returning players. The three month-long running season proved to be demanding, but the team stayed confident. This hard work eventually paid off, with the group representing EHHS at the SCC Division championships on October 20th.
The cross country team ran in a total of seven meets this season. As each meet passed, each EHHS runner gradually lowered their times and set new personal records. When asked about standout runners, Coach Narracci highlighted senior Frank Papa. “He was great all year. He never misses a day, never complains about the workouts. He improved as the season went on. He gave it the same dedication that he does in wrestling. He was a good example for some of the other kids” Narracci exclaimed. Papa knocked his time down each meet, finishing off his season with a time of 22 minutes and 47 seconds at the fall championships according to CIAC. Fellow senior Juliana Espinoza crossed the finish line at 27 minutes and 25 seconds.
Although there were accomplishments throughout the season, the cross country team had many obstacles. Motivation was an issue during training due to a lack of numbers. “It’s tough when you’re doing distance running every day, and you don’t have a group of people to motivate you. When you’re doing it on your own it becomes harder to get motivated” Coach Naracci explained. This lack in numbers put them at a disadvantage compared to other school’s teams. This interference only pushed the runners even more. What they had lacked in numbers they made up for with their resilience and strength.
Coach Narracci is hoping for more students to show interest joining the cross country team next season. He has already reached out to incoming freshmen, but would like more upperclassmen runners to set a good example. “We have a good group of freshmen coming in, but we still need to get kids in the sophomore, junior, and senior class since we only have a couple returners next year”. If you are looking to join a collaborative and motivating sport, check out the EHHS cross country team.