Freshmen cross country team races to head of the pack

Alexis Gadsden

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While most freshmen were just getting used to the school this fall, the freshman cross country team was racing to be the top team in the county.

In the South Hudson Championships on October 31, the freshman team finished third. Freshman Zachary Douglas finished second to earn a silver medal. Freshmen Freddy Martinez, Justin Tiangsing, Jhon De los Santos and Joshua Verzosa all took bronze medals, as the whole team placed among the top 28 runners of the race.

Co-captain Kenneth Fernandez, junior, said he was surprised to see that the freshman were doing so well.

“They have surpassed expectations as runners,” Fernandez said, who also earned a medal, finishing 25th out of 110 runners.

Williams said he was particularly impressed with Douglas.

“[He’s the] best freshman in races, not the best in practice, [but] in racing he’s the best,” Williams said.  

Douglas said that he motivates himself to become a better runner and his parents motivate him as well.

“My parents were saying that I’m doing a good job, [as well as] my coach and my friends,” Douglas said.

Douglas and Martinez led the freshman cross country team to a second-place finish in the Jersey City Championship October 14. Douglas finished fourth with a personal record time of 12 minutes, 19 seconds, while Martinez finished seventh with a personal record time of 12:25. Rounding out the freshman performance, Justin Tiangsing continued to improve with a 14th-place finish in a then-personal record of 13 minutes. He finished the season with a personal best of 12:20 at the Hudson County Cross Country Championship October 31.

The team has been led this year by co-captains Fernandez and Ahmed Shehata, both juniors, even though Shehata injured himself before the season started.

“The heat never broke until September, so we were constantly running in oppressive heat,” Williams said. “During these hot runs one day, [Shehata] just overdid it and popped his hamstring.”

Even though Shehata couldn’t participate on the track, he still did his job as co-captain of the team, he said.

“I help them push themselves. I teach them that not only would apply to the track [but] in school [too],” Shehata said.

With his co-captain not being able to run, Fernandez said he is feeling more pressure in leading the team.

“I feel like, if I mess up, I’m going to mess up what they’re supposed to do. I don’t want to mess up their expectation.”

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