The cross country team has been exceptionally successful this season, and over the past couple weeks, three Tabor runners were rewarded for their times.
On November 10, Senior Hunter Patrick, Junior Hiroshi Nakajima and Sophomore Julia O’Rourke each finished in the Top 20 at the New England Championships in Hebron, ME. This helped them qualify for the All-Stars race a week later at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, MA, where they finished 12th, 5th and 15th, respectively, in their races.
The Division II New England Championships took place on one of the most formidable courses in New England, as Hebron Academy’s course features a full loop of a rocky surface that was rarely flat. The most formidable part of the course was just before the second mile, where “The Wall,” a very long and steep hill, can slow down even the fastest runners.
Coach Christopher Adams, therefore, came up with a plan to overcome such hills.
“The Tabor campus does not have many hills, and in order for us to do well in the New Englands, we needed to run lot of them,” he said. “We started to go to Bourne twice a week this year in the hopes of getting better results.”
Nakajima, Patrick, and O’Rourke took full advantage of these many hills workouts. In the varsity boys’ race, Nakajima finished 9th, posting a time of 17:58 (5:47 average pace), defeating tough opponents like Jordan Comeau from Cushing Academy, as well as the Top 5 from the eventual New England Champion Governors Academy. This was the second straight year he qualified for the All-Star race.
Patrick extended his Tabor cross country career by finishing 18th, just inside the Top 20 to qualify for the All-Star race, with a time of 18:18, as he was sandwiched in between the five Governor’s runners for most of the race.
The boys’ team finished 4th overall.
In the girls’ race, O’Rourke finished 14th with a time of 22:26 (7:14 average pace), as she was the only Tabor runner to finish inside the Top 20 and qualify for the All-Star race. Like Nakajima, O’ Rourke reached the All-Star race for the second straight year. The girls team also finished 4th.
At St. Mark’s, Nakajima started in the middle of the pack, but he slowly chipped away throughout the race. He passed several runners, including Patrick, and sprinted just enough at the end to finish with a monster time of 16:58. This was especially impressive considering the amount of hills on the St. Mark’s course, which includes a sharp hairpin turn at the one-mile marker and a “Wall-like” hill shortly following the turn.
While Patrick did have a few runners pass him after starting strong, he still had an impressive finish to his Tabor career, finishing with a time of 17:08. This capped off one of the greatest weeks of his career, as he was also accepted into The Citadel in Charleston, SC.
Coach Adams was very impressed with both performances, but he was also very proud of Patrick’s contributions in four seasons of cross country.
“For Hiroshi and Hunter to run those times on a course with a couple of good hills is really impressive,” he said. One of the gifts that separate Hunter from others is his strength and endurance from jogging many miles over the past few years. We are all proud of Hunter!”
O’Rourke finished her sophomore year with a time of 20:52, enough for 15th. She will most likely be next year’s captain for a young but promising girls’ team that made great improvements this year.
By Nick Veronesi