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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Sports > High School >> Cross Country/Track

Road warriors

SW and T-V harriers hit the road with trails still unusable

Mar 11, 2021

By Richard Ross - reporter/photographer

Sullivan West runners complete their workout around Lake Huntington. Pictured in order are Reece Maopolski, Carl Swanson and Gabe Wasner.
SULLIVAN COUNTY -- Much has been written about distance running, in particular the challenges and eventual rewards experienced by cross-country harriers. But as is true of any human experience, the only way to really fathom the nuances of cross-country racing is to do it.
The prospect of running three-mile courses over hill and dale in all kinds of weather is enough to keep away all but a relatively small number of valiant souls who sign up to push themselves relentlessly and learn in the process how much more they have within them than they ever imagined.
Cross-country runners are true athletes who regard running not so much as a sport but as a way of being, something they do in all seasons whether or not they run competitively.
Needless to say, it is hard work, but the biggest obstacle to running is not one's physical conditioning for that can be steadily improved through the rigors of training. No, rather it is mindset.

As George Sheehan the legendary late senor athlete, physician and author once wrote, “It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants to quit.”
Sheehan was the first man over 50 to run a sub-five-minute mile. His book, “Running and Being: The Total Experience” was a New York Times bestseller and remains a fixture on the bookshelves of untold numbers of runners who consider his book a great source of inspiration both on the physics and psychology of running.
For Tri-Valley coach Van (Chip) Furman and Sullivan West coach Skylar Musa, both of whom have extensive experience running, the work begins in trying to get kids to come out for a sport that is essentially a lonely enterprise.
Unlike football and soccer, sports which draw far more participants, cross-country runners will work assiduously without the support of enthusiastic crowds. Both coaches understand that running fosters a great deal of mental resistance but that it yields amazing benefits to those willing to stay with it. Both understand that to engender the joy of running, workouts have to be manageable and varied. They know you cannot push runners to expend their all day after day, that is unless you want them to burn out and quit.
This year, overshadowed by the effects of the pandemic, has left its mark on cross-country runners. The season was postponed this past fall and slated to begin on March 1 and run through April. With frozen trails, runners have had to take to the road to get their mileage in.
For Sullivan West and Tri-Valley, this late-arriving season is apt to be more of a personal preparation for spring track than what it normally is in the fall. Each of the coaches discussed their current rosters, training regimens and hopes for the unusual venture ahead.

Sullivan West's stalwart six
If and when meets do take place in the coming weeks, the Westies will not be competing as a team but rather as individuals. A team usually consists of seven runners and is reliant on its top five to place high in the race finish to secure the lowest points it can against competing teams.
For Sullivan West coach Skylar Musa, the good news is that all six of her runners (three boys and three girls) are coming off a winter season that saw them engaged either in indoor track or basketball. The boys group consists of all juniors and veterans of cross-country. They are Reece Maopolski, Carl Swanson and Gabe Wasner.
The girls are led by junior Brielle Arnot who played basketball and runs spring track. She is joined by sophomore Cheyenne Decker and Rose-Lyn Murphy, also veterans of cross-country. Musa has varied the workouts.
“I never do two of the same in a row. I follow a hard day with an easier one,” she notes. Musa reflects on her younger days when she thought it was crazy to run three miles. That changed at Tri-Valley with its inimitable program overseen by Joe and Missy Iatauro. “You have to take the fear out of running,” she posits.
Musa and her volunteer assistant Dee Maopolski have the six runners heading off on local roads with a keen watch on safety. The harriers are not allowed to wear any headphones and each sports a bright colored vest for visibility to drivers.
Musa does all her own mileage on roads as well. She is hopeful that the track will soon be cleared to afford another option. The boys and girls run together, their workouts are the same. Mostly the course they are running takes them around Lake Huntington.
As with any sport graduation means a changing of the guard. For the Westies, that means that iconic star Bryce Maopolski will no longer grace the trails with that long hair and inimitable, competitive spirit. He passes that mantle to his brother Reece who is more than up to the task. SW is scheduled to host a meet vs. James I. O'Neill on March 23 but that is subject to the condition of the trail at that time. Two days later they are scheduled to travel to a meet at Port Jervis.

T-V returns
experienced runners
Tri-Valley's Coach Furman said their varsity cross country team is scheduled to have its first competition on Tuesday, March 23 at home.
The Bears have seven varsity runners on the boys' side and two varsity girl athletes. Returning for the boys are Caleb Edwards, Adam Furman, Vincent Mingo and Thomas Houghtaling. New to the team this year are Brandon Kaplan, Connor Weyant and Craig Costa. The varsity girls include Senior Macy Shamro and Freshman Amelia Mickelson.
“Most of these athletes began their training during the indoor track season,” said Furman. “We are building up the distance runs while also adding in some speed work. For XC season we also focus more on incline trainings. I know the athletes are excited to compete!”
Tri-Valley saw the graduation of the Rush twins, Daniel and Sean who along with SW's Bryce Maopolski often comprised the leaders of the pack.
But Adam Furman showed a year ago that his verve and drive were to be seriously regarded. Rachel Brooks also graduated in June. Though she had health issues a year ago, she was an incredibly dynamic runner.
Macy Shamro will lead the Lady Bears this season once again. Gritty and tough, she attacks hills with a ferocious intensity. Look for the Bears boys team to register strongly as a group while the girls look to marshal increasingly better times over the course of the next few months.

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