“We are thrilled with the turnout and the success we have seen with the NHS Cross Country Club,” said NHS Athletic Director Chris Maury. “Whenever we look at adding a new sport, our hope is to involve new members of the student population in our interscholastic athletic program.”
Currently, cross country is only a club sport, but the team hopes it will become a varsity offering within the next year or two. There is a total of 21 new faces on the team with the majority being boys.
“We have the numbers on the boys side for it to be a varsity team next year, we just need more girls because as of right now we only have five”, said the head coach, Gary Allen. Nonetheless, the team was still able to take part in competitions against several Cape teams such as Sturgis East, Sturgis West, River View, Cape Cod Academy, and Saint John Paul II. Co-coach Phil Allen contributed tremendously to getting the cross country program in place at NHS.
Even though it is not a varsity team, the runners practice daily, took part in team dinners, and compete - just like all the other teams at NHS.
“Coaches Gary and Phil Allen have done a terrific job in getting this sport off the ground and making sure that all participants had a rewarding experience,” said Maury. The team also allowed students from Cyrus Peirce Middle School, The Nantucket New School and The Nantucket Lighthouse School to join the team but only those in eighth grade or above were able to travel and compete in the meets.
Aside from cross country being a rewarding sport in general, running is a great way to get and stay fit and is, of course, an ideal way to be ready for the winter sports season.
“Cross Country is a great sport that can be for anyone,” said junior Moneak Phillip. “It helped me get ready for basketball as well. I also really enjoyed it and I made many new friends.”
The club competed once a week, with most of the meets off island. The final meet was the Cape and Islands championships, where the Whalers competed against all the teams they had had met previously, plus two others, Monomoy and Riverside. Unfortunately, the team was not able to place because it is not an official varsity or junior varsity team.
“Even though we couldn’t place, I think it was great to be able to run against those other teams and see other runners,” said Allen. “Even the other team’s coaches expressed their eagerness for us to become a varsity team.”
Running is different from most sports as it feels very much an individual sport and because of that, it is competitive in a different way than other sports.
“Personally I prefer it because I’m not really into the competitive nature of a lot of the other sports,” said sophomore Sawyer Phillips. “In cross country you’re still a team, but really you’re racing against yourself.”
The team enjoyed training runs in different parts of the island and over varied terrain - from the beach in Miacomet to the trails through Deadhorse Valley. Overall, it was a great and very successful year for the Nantucket High School Cross Country Club, which will hopefully become a varsity sport next fall.