Running cross country has been a long-standing tradition at Deerfield, and as the academy witnesses the beginning of its many fall athletic programs, no excitement or confidence across the fields is paralleled to that of the boys cross country team. “I’ve coached here at DA for fourteen years and this is the most focused and hard-working team that I’ve ever trained,” said head coach Steve Anderson, “and one of the deepest teams in terms of talent.”
Each member worked extremely hard this summer, and each runner averaged about 65 miles of training per week. The members of the team reflect on the thousands of strides they have collectively accumulated, and look at the season ahead with confidence; “Each practice just gives us a lot of opportunities to build off the strong base-mileage we’ve already built up,” said experienced returner Hayden Moreau ’11.
Each week of practice yields a variety of work-outs that include distance training and speed exercises. Every runner averages about forty to fifty miles a week, and often they are pushed beyond their limits to succeed a higher level of mental and physical endurance. As each week increases in difficulty, the endurance and pain thresholds for each member rise commensurately. The toil of establishing such quick but controlled rhythms are seen when Saturday -race day- arrives.
Although cross country is an extremely taxing sport on one’s body, Fred Quesada ’12 claims, “Racing is all a mental game, and it’s all about how hard you can push yourself before you give up.” In order to feel the fiery adrenaline as they pass other contenders and finally the sweet relief at the end, the runners focus their energy and speed at the most painful and critical parts of the race. “The biggest pay-off in a race is when you’ve passed a lot of the other teams and you’ve proved it to yourself that you could do it, and you’ve finished with a really good time,” said senior co-captain Aaron Cyr-Mutty ’11.
Looking at the season ahead, the runners plan on tackling both individual and team goals. Sam Belcher, co-captain and holder of DA’s 16:25 home course record, put into perspective how close being the number one school in New England really is. “With this team, Steve [Anderson] wants to create a dynasty. We’re already beating teams that were really ahead of us last year.” DA’s number 5 runner is just behind Exeter’s number 1 and 2 and the team is really evenly matched up with their New England’s-dominant rival, Andover. Andover is the only other team to return its top seven runners, and is the closest competition that Deerfield faces all season.
Three members of the team are specifically gearing up for their last battle to win New England’s their senior year on their home course when Deerfield hosts the event November 15th. As a whole, DA’s top seven plan on winning the team title, and individually, the runners are focusing on crossing the finish line with or before the event’s other top 15. “Many of the teams could be evenly matched this year,” said Mr. Anderson, “But when it comes down to it, the true test between runners is not only who is the strongest, but who can withstand the most pain. At the end of the season all we can expect to be is at our fastest.”