Kingsway Cross Country: Champions in the Making

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Karen Schonewise

He's flying. Joe Grandizio races to a second place finish, leading his team to a South Jersey Group IV title on Nov. 4. A week later he was part of the Dragon pack that trounced all of Group IV winning the state meet in record fashion.

Jack Fitzpatrick

 

Once again, Kingsway Regional High School’s cross country team has proven themselves to be at the top of New Jersey cross country. After a dominating victory at their sectional meet, the team proved themselves champions of the sport when they won the Group IV State Meet at the brutal Holmdel Park course on Saturday, November 11.

The state race, spanning five kilometers of some of the most difficult terrain in the state, forced the team to kick it into high gear in terms of training in the preceding weeks. Fortunately, the team’s brilliant coaching staff came up with a unique strategy to cope with pre-meet stress. “The big thing we added to the week prior to the state championship was mental preparation,” said team captain and homecoming king Joey Grandizio, “for example, the coach had us lay down, visualize our race, and activate our minds. We practiced the feeling of going on the line and taking on this challenge.”

That practice paid off. The team swept the trails at Holmdel, finishing in first with a score of fifty-two points, nearly a forty point lead over the runner-ups from Princeton High School. They placed five runners in the top fifteen spots, in a race with over 200 runners. John Connor, who finished first among Kingsway runners and eighth place overall, described the feeling of victory quite eloquently. “I knew that I had my guys behind my back,” said Connor, “they were with me the whole entire race, and just crossing that line felt great.”

There are many things that make Kingsway Cross Country stand out. There’s the sheer volume of new recruits that come through every year to replace departing seniors, the exceptional compassion and experience of its coaching staff, and the sense of camaraderie and fellowship shared by all its members, but when asked what truly makes the team great, head coach Christian Lynch pinned it all on one word: “Sacrifice.”