Manhasset Boys Cross Country Team Hard To Beat

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Cross-country running incorporates the beautiful landscapes, challenging courses, and the familiar ringing of the cowbell, all alongside the roar of athletes, coaches and spectators shouting their support, blending together to create a unique experience that at once is constantly changing, while in the same instance, seemingly always the same. And so it was once again this season for the Manhasset Boys Varsity Cross Country program, a period of transition and change accompanied by new achievements, but also one of familiarity, marked by the continuity of time-honored traditions and rituals handed down from past generations of harriers. The season began with our Kensington Loop time trial amid high expectations and dreams yet unfulfilled and culminated on the Bowdoin Park course in Poughkeepsie, NY, with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction brought about by meeting many lofty goals and expectations.
After sweeping through the regular season earning Division and Conference titles, the Manhasset squad went on to capture its fifth straight County title before earning the right to represent Section VIII at the NYSPHAA Championships the following week, also for the fifth consecutive year. The state meet, as it is better known, was held this year at Sunken Meadow State Park, widely considered among the toughest of all 5k cross country courses in the Northeast. This year’s team was up to the challenge, traversing the course with unwavering focus and determination to record the program’s best finish in recent history, with senior Chris Courts earning All-State honors after running the third fastest time in school history. Courts was followed across the finish line by Bryce Thalheimer (12), Adam Stefan (12), Dan Maass (11), Drew Miller (12), Hazen Hildebolt (11), and Lucas Maley (10).
The team’s seventh place finish was a big step forward for the program as much as it was a personal triumph for Courts, who achieved this season-long goal while also becoming the first Manhasset runner to qualify for the New York State Federation Championships since alumnus Stephen Bourguet achieved the same feat in 2012. Though mother nature interfered in his pursuit of All-Federation honors, as nearly a foot of snow led to the nearly unheard of cancellation of this event, Courts refocused his attention on the Nike Cross Country Regional Championships held on the same course one week later. Courts (54th) once again led the team to success over the weather-beaten Bowdoin Park course as Manhasset finished ahead of nearly half the championship field.
In addition to their on-the-field success, the team was active within their local community, volunteering their time and energies to assist with the organization and implementation of the Don Scott Memorial Foundation and MWCABC’s 5K runs, as well as manning the water and Gatorade stations for the Diva Women’s Half Marathon at Eisenhower Park. Furthermore, this year’s group was recognized as a NYSPHAA Scholar-Athlete Team and also honored with the Nassau Coaches Sportsmanship Award for Section VIII. Senior Adam Stefan was selected to represent Nassau County as the recipient of the NYSPHAA Sportsmanship Award.
“These efforts and accolades, which represent most acutely what the sport of cross country is truly all about, epitomize the essence of what we as a coaching staff hope and strive to imbue within our student-athletes,” said Steven Steiner, boy’s coach. “This compassionate group of young men, who refer to their teammates as family, carry with them each day a zest for life and passion for pursuing excellence both on and off the course. As we celebrate the many contributions of this season’s senior class, our underclassmen are already looking ahead to next fall with plans to build upon the legacy they have left behind.”

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Elizabeth Johnson is former editor of Manhasset Press and Manhasset Press Magazine. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community Newspaper" several years in a row.

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