MK Cross Country 2022 Season Review

MK Cross Country 2022 Season Review

It’s the final sprint for the Morris Knolls Cross Country Team; with the Sectional competition in the bag, athletes looked forward to the Groups competition in November. The ultimate goal for the team this season has been self-improvement and implementing a positive outlook in every practice; putting their best feet forward was both a literal and figurative objective for athletes. 

On October 1st, the team faced its first major challenge when they performed at an invitational meet at Holmdel Park. After leaving the school at 9:45 in the morning that rainy morning, the athletes had to sit on a bus for an hour and a half before arrival. The unfamiliar and muddy 5k course was not taken lightly by the team. After racing against over two hundred schools, many runners returned home with Top 30 medals. It was certainly quite the event! 

Most of the runners took part in their last competition on October 18th, with the Morris Country Championships at Greystone Park. This was a bittersweet moment for many seniors as it was their last race with Morris Knolls. Excitement was in the air as athletes hoped for personal records to close out the season. Freshmen and Sophomores ran a 4k, while Juniors, Seniors, and Varsity runners completed a 5k course. The team celebrated their success on the bus back to school. Freshman and JV wrapped up the season, and Varsity began preparing for Groups!

 This successful season has been in the works since the July pre-season, where athletes could be seen reaching for and surpassing their goals during both practice and races. Athletes Rehanna Syed, Luke Schagelin, and Aaryan Pethe showed remarkable promise. 

Luke Schagelin, a junior here at Morris Knolls, has cemented his reputation as one of the most prolific runners in the school’s history, breaking Knolls’ 5k record set by head coach Drew Reinhardt during his high school career. This year, he was the only runner to make it to the Groups competition; hopes for a win rested on his shoulders. It is evident that Luke promises great performances in cross country and track, which he will be participating in this year. The efforts of these three remarkable athletes and the rest of the team show that anything is possible if you put your mind to it!

In his first year at Morris Knolls, Aaryan Pethe dashed to the top, joining the varsity team. Now one of the top ten Freshman cross-country runners in the state, he quickly became an extremely notable athlete. Aaryan loves working with the team to improve both himself and his teammates; he remarked “… [the] practices, meets, team spirit, and the long bus rides home not only made us better runners but closer as a team.” 

Like Aaryan, Rehanna Syed, a Sophomore, entered varsity in her first year on the team! Throughout the Greystone Batch Meets and the increasingly competitive Championships, Rehanna demonstrated a dedication to the sport and to her teammates, commenting that she “loved the bus rides back from meets and how fun the season was!” For Rehanna and the rest of the team, the bonding times on the buses and during downtime were essential in maintaining a healthy team dynamic. This often took the shape of playing songs, making jokes, and giving one another a simple helping hand. It seems like Rehanna will certainly miss her teammates as the season comes to a close!

This season’s coaches, (Head Boy’s) Coach Reinhardt, (Head Girl’s) Coach Staluppi, and Coach Baggot have also been instrumental in the team’s dynamic. Two of the coaches are physical education teachers, experienced with Morris Knolls’ team environment. Coach Reinhardt has been leading the Denville Striders Cross Country and Track team to success for many years, and his addition to the team’s administration has been nothing but positive. 

As the season came to a close, the coaches discussed their feelings about the team’s accomplishments. Coach Staluppi stated, “… we are very pleased with the enthusiasm and efforts our runners brought to practice every day. As cross country coaches, you look at both personal and team growth overall. We really enjoy watching our runners get excited when they drop time in practice or when they compete in meets. Seeing their hard work payoff is one of the most rewarding feelings to have as a coach.” Coach Baggot added,  “We showed a lot of heart this season. I loved watching everyone improve week by week.” The coaches’ support and encouragement have helped athletes blossom over the season, and their impact on the runners will last a lifetime.

The season officially ended on November 17th, culminating in a celebratory cast party! Although the occasion was touching for the seniors taking flight to college and beyond, the party also commemorated each athlete’s contribution to the team and closed out a tremendously successful season. Go Morris Knolls Cross Country!