Boys’ Cross Country Aims for Fourth Straight MAC Title

Blair Penn '21

Winning is not abnormal for the varsity boys’ cross country team, which has quietly won three straight MAC titles and has high hopes for this season. After losing three of its seven varsity runners, the team has an uphill battle to win another championship.

“There are plenty of runners ready and able to step up, which should make us competitive in the MAC,” said senior Abhishek Goel.

Freshman Wibb Marzilli is “pretty fast” and has a lot of promise, senior captain Philip Wright added. Senior Jack Knibb, another captain, agreed the team has a great shot of winning the MAC again, but added that it will take consistent improvement throughout the year to get there.

“[Last year], most runners hit a wall midseason and had difficulty improving their times,” Knibb said. “We have to overcome that barrier to win again.” The runners are optimistic about the their chances of winning their fourth consecutive MAC title, though they all agreed that few fans show up for the meets, and they hope to see the attendance increase.

“We are the winningest team at Sidwell right now but the least celebrated,” Goel said.

Boys’ Cross Country is one of Sidwell’s largest teams, with 35 runners and no cuts. This season, the team has ten meets, including three championships.  In those meets, GDS is the team’s biggest rival, but “we should beat them this year easily,” Goel said. Much of the team’s recent success and high expectations are owed to their coach: Bill Wooden.

“Coach Wooden's dedication to the team is inspirational for all the runners,” Wright said. “We have trust that Coach Wooden knows what he's doing, and we will be in peak shape for the MAC.”

Wooden has been with the team for over a decade, and his years of experience show in his coaching methods. “Coach Wooden tries to find a balance between hard work and recovery,” Knibb said.

SFS coaches stand at every mile split and record the runners’ times. After races, Wooden compiles the data into complex recording sheets, which he  uses to recap the race and to find areas for improvement. Wooden also records the top few finishers from other schools to compare.

“I feel like [Wooden’s methods]  help motivate our team more and really show how invested our coach is in our team,” Knibb said. A sport like cross country inspires inner team competition, but also inner team companionship.

“My favorite part of the team is the camaraderie,” senior captain Teddy Donilon said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be around some great guys while I’ve been on the team.”

Because there are no cuts, runners can choose how serious they want their training to be.

“The best part of cross country is going on a long run with your friends, training, laughing and improving together,” Goel said.

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