Running for the County Title


Leon Zhao, Staff Writer

With the fall sports season coming to a close, athletes at the top of their game are moving onto counties. These athletes will strive to win a name for their class and their team and hopefully advance to states or regionals. One team with an opportunity to do great things is the Ward Melville cross country team. Having met the time restrictions to qualify, the top 7 runners will race in the County Championships this Friday with a shot to advance to the State Championships for the first time in 46 years.

Winning will be far from easy however. In order to win, the team will have to beat talented rivals like Sachem East, Sachem North, Northport, and Commack. All of these teams competing have done the same as or better than Melville over the course of the season. As a result, Melville is one of the underdogs, out of the 24 teams, who are running for the county title.

But Melville is far from giving up. Cross country coach Gregg Cantwell has been preparing the top runners for counties and states since June, when the team began its summer training. Using his past experience as a Ward Melville running star, Cantwell has fine-tuned the team’s workouts and carefully placed runners in each race, only allowing the top runners to race in the major meets. 

Most importantly, Ward Melville cross country is on the rise, going from an unranked team to the top 25 in the state over the course of this season. At this point, Cantwell is confident in the top 7’s abilities to run their best races of the season on Friday.  

But will that be enough to win? “To win we will need our 3rd, 4th, and 5th guys to all have very good races, to move up patiently throughout the race. We need to have at least 3 to 4 All-County guys at a minimum.” Cantwell says. Winning a title will not just depend on the top one or two runners, but on all 7. Says team captain and leading runner Mike Reilly,“It’s going to be tough but if everybody gives it their all and has a great race we have a chance to win.”