XC Champions Look Back On a Great Season

Three runners from this year’s squad reflect: on what helped improve their times, and memories of the team they’ll take to college.
Runners celebrate together at the finish line after championships.
Runners celebrate together at the finish line after championships.
Jen Smith

With fall sports behind us, it’s time to look back on the season. Friends School had many championship teams, one of which was the Boys JV cross country team. They secured their 2nd championship in a row the last day of October. To get some insight into the championship team, we talked with three runners from this year’s squad.

Sam Principe

Junior Sam Principe was this year’s 1st place runner, with a 19:34 5k time. He says his offseason habits helped him train. 

“I took the offseason pretty seriously,” he said. “From February through August, I was just playing frisbee nonstop. Combine that with running and I was feeling really good, like I felt really nice and in shape.” 

His hard work paid off, as his time decreased to a sub-21 time. Principe says he had one objective going into the fall cross country season – but it was going to be tough.

“My whole goal was just to get down 36 seconds to break 20 [minutes]. Going into championships, I still hadn’t reached that mark yet,” he says. “Our last non-champs race I had sub-20 pace. But then I cramped up at the worst possible point.” 

This letdown might have affected some. Principe used it to motivate him in his final race, where he stuck close to the 1st place runner, til right near the end.

“I had been chipping away at this Park runner the whole way through the race, and he was number 1 the whole race, and he was losing his gait. So I just had to keep chipping away at his stride,” Sam recalls. “Going into the turn [at the end of the race,] I was right there with him, [and] when I saw the 3-mile mark I was just like: ‘I’m gonna kick it all the way in.’ And I left him in the dust by 10 seconds, it turns out.”

The full cross country team poses with their coaches in warmer weather. (Diana Sugg)

Henry Turner

Although the championship was a pressure-filled race, a majority of Friends runners had their best times of the season there. Junior Henry Turner says that’s no coincidence.

“Honestly, I think that the preparation for the championship is an important part, because everybody is so excited for the championship that we eat better, sleep better, and don’t do stuff during the day so that we can get a good time,” he says.

This applied to Turner as well; his time decreased from 21:10 during the season to 20:10 in the biggest stage. After results such as this, we can only look forward to next year, where Turner has aspirations of his own. 

“Next year, I would definitely like to hit sub-20,” he says. “[I know I can do it], and do well in varsity championships.”

Sam Wu

With the season at an end, we have to say goodbye to the senior runners. Although the team will be losing him and his classmates, Sam Wu said he has great expectations for next year’s runners. 

Going out on long runs, especially where we get lost: even if I kind of hated it in the moment, it was kinda fun, just being out there with people. I’m going to miss it.

— Sam Wu, '24

“I think we had a lot of good seniors – obviously some of our best runners. But also I think we’re lucky to have a well-spread-out team, so we also have a lot of great sophomores, juniors, and even some very promising freshmen,” he says. “While we may be losing some good people, I think the team still has a lot of potential [to] get even better, and I’m really excited to see what comes next.” 

For example, two of the team’s best varsity runners this year were junior Nils von Boehmer and sophomore Harry Abernathy. 

Sam also looked back on his favorite moments during his time as a runner at Friends. 

“My favorite part was probably the last meet where almost everyone PR’d” – got a personal record – “That was really memorable. It was a very satisfying end to the season,” he says.

He’ll take fond memories with him to college of regular practices too. 

“Like [from] long runs, going out on long runs, especially where we get lost,” he says. “Even if I kind of hated it in the moment, it was kinda fun, just being out there with people. I’m going to miss it.”

Overall, the cross-country team had a season to be proud of. With an undefeated JV team and a 5-1 Varsity team, they consistently showed out. And although the seniors will soon be off to new adventures, things are looking promising for next year’s team.

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