Cross country season recap


Top seven Whitman runners (left to right) Josh Engels, Aaron Bratt, Kai Jacobs, Andreas Christofides, Obi Onwuamaegbu, Ben Lessner, and Ben Rumsfeld lead the Vikes to a 12th place finish in the 5000m at states. Photo courtesy Aaron Bratt.

By Joey Squeri

The boys and girls cross country teams completed their seasons last weekend, in a year driven by underclassmen contributions.

“Our varsity team had a lot of new freshmen who really helped us succeed,” sophomore Julia Johnson said.

The squad excelled in team competitions throughout the season, including the prestigious Manhattan Invitational in New York City, where the team sent their top 12 boys and girls runners.

In counties, the girls team placed fifth and the boys placed ninth, sending both groups to regionals.

At regionals, both squads qualified for states, the boys doing so for the first time since 2014. The girls team captured third place, while the boys team finished sixth.

Freshman Paula Batholon and sophomore Julia Johnson led the girls at states where they placed seventh. Junior Josh Engels and sophomore Aaron Bratt posted the best times for boys helping them earn 12th place.

In addition to achievements in team events, many season highlights came in the individual competitions.

Batholon had a strong freshman year, running the fastest times for the girls team in counties, regionals and states where she finished 17th, 12th and 17th respectively.

For the boys, Bratt and Engels formed a productive duo, evident in their dominant performances in counties and regionals. Bratt took seventh at counties and fourth at regionals while Engels took 10th and third respectively.

Bratt attributed his and Engels’ successes to their off-season workouts.

“Having a good cross country season depends a lot on building up a solid base over the summer,” Bratt said. “[Josh and I] ran 60 miles a week over the summer and well into the cross country season.”

Both teams enjoyed successful seasons and have promising futures. Seven of the top eight boys runners were sophomores this year, accompanied by Engels, a junior. For the girls, five of their top seven runners are freshmen or sophomores.

In addition to a bright future, both teams share a positive culture headed by coach Stephen Hays that will motivate teams for years to come.

“There is a good philosophy of hard work now and I think we will do really well in the future,” Engels said. “We had a lot of fun and we push each other to always work harder.”