Cross-country season preview

Members of the boys cross-country team go through their paces on Monday at MVRHS. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

After ending the 2016 season with an impressive seventh-place finish at the Division 5 State Championships, the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) boys cross-country team returns six of the top seven runners. Top runner Aivaras Gedvilas graduated last spring, but there are many promising runners who will give the team a competitive edge in the Eastern Athletic Conference (EAC). The group will be led by senior captains Charlie Whalen and Otto Osmers. They are joined by fellow seniors Eban Peak and Harrison Dorr. Junior Owen Porterfield is the top returner. Sophomores Peter Burke, Kieran Karabees, and Vito Aiello will be key pieces of the team. There are five freshman boys, two of whom are products of the Martha’s Vineyard Hurricanes Youth Running Club. “We’re finally starting to see the club affecting our high school program, which is very exciting” said Head Coach Joe Schroeder.

The team has been practicing all over the Island, including Chilmark, the State Forest, and Lambert’s Cove. “We’re a traveling band,” said Coach Schroder. In the two weeks of practice before the start of school, the team started their workouts at 6:30 am. “It’s been obvious over the first couple of weeks of practice that some kids have put in the work over the summer. Right now we are trying to evaluate everybody’s fitness level,” explained Coach Schroder.

Captains Charlie and Otto have been diligent members of the team since they were freshman. Otto has the second fastest returning time. “It has been really important for the captains to be good leaders, because a lot of the runners have never done this before,” Coach Schroeder said. “There are warm-up routines, different trail routes, and various cool-down techniques that I have shown the them over the years, and they are really good about following through with that and helping the newer members.”

“I try to be there with positive encouragement for my teammates, and to lead by example whenever I can,” said Charlie.

The girls team is in a more precarious position. With five girls total and five girls needed to compete as a team, any injuries would have a big impact. Coach Schroeder noted that sophomore Catherine Cherry “will be a big factor.” Catherine was named an EAC All-Star by the Boston Globe after last year’s cross-country season. She was the second fastest freshman in the Division 5 State Championships, despite a bad fall and trampling at the start of the race. Fellow sophomore Veronica Wendt is expected to build on a strong freshman showing from last year, and contribute fast times. Senior Lila Norris is the lone upperclassman.

The boys and girls cross-country teams will face squads from across New England at MVRHS in the ninth annual Vineyard Cross-Country Invitational on Sept. 9. The gun goes off at 11 am.