Cross Country New England Championships

Photo Courtesy of Ross Mortensen

Mustafe Dahir’19 placed 2nd in New England, breaking the course record along the way.

On Saturday, November 11, 2017, while most of the school was at Deerfield, Choate hosted the NEPSTA Division I Cross Country Championships. Fifteen teams ran in the boys’ races, while thirteen competed in the girls’ races, and despite the frigid weather, an exciting atmosphere surrounded the day of racing as the course was surrounded by coaches, parents, and spectators.

Choate Girls’ Varsity Cross Country ran in the first race of the day.  The team had a great season, capped off by their win at the Founders’ League Championship the weekend prior, but the New England Championship hosted some much tougher competition.  The girls ran well, finishing sixth, a good result for the team which was plagued by injuries this year.

One of the girls’ team’s co-captains, Kay Ingulli ’18 said of the meet, “We were pretty unenthused about running in near freezing weather and the pre-race nerves were a bit stronger for the last race. This didn’t bring down the team though and everyone ran really well.” She continued, “We went in feeling confident after Founders and hoped to maintain our place in New England. The team got hit with some injuries this season, so we were focusing on placing before the schools we had beat in the regular season which we did.” Ultimately, Ingulli said she was proud of the way the team ran. The team also was also successful individually: Lilly Bar ’19 got ninth overall with a personal best time of 20:04, and Ingulli placed 14 with a time of 20:22 in her last race for Choate Cross Country. These top twenty finishes meant that the girls received All-New England honors.

The boys’ team also had a solid day like the girls, getting sixth as a team, beating Deerfield by only a few points. This performance is definitely something for the boys to build off of, as they have six of their top eight runners returning next year. Co-captain Griffin Birney ’18, said of the team’s expectations, “We didn’t have any set spot; we just wanted to run our hardest. We wanted to go out and leave everything on the course.” One of those returning team members is new runner Mustafe Dahir ’19. Dahir had a phenomenal first season, breaking the school record on Parents’ Weekend, and then breaking that record again this past weekend.  Even more spectacularly, Dahir beat the old course record, which had stood since 2007, when Choate last hosted New England’s.  Dahir ran a time of 15:59 and placed second, a good ending to his dominant season. Birney also had a solid race, placing eighth. He said of the race as a whole, “I think that the team had an amazing season overall.  Everyone put in work, and that really showed at New England’s.”

For the seniors, this was an emotional race. Co-captain of the girls’ team, Mehreen Pasha ’18, commented, “Overall, I was comfortable with the pace and ended up getting a PR — despite the weather. New England’s was really bittersweet for me. While I did well, I realized that it was my last cross country race. I’m sad that my high school cross country career is over, but I’m looking forward to the Track season in the spring.”  Co-captain of the boys’ team, Matt Kim ’18, said, “My goal was to pass out at the finish line, out of sheer exhaustion.” Kim also commented, “It was really emotional. Standing on the starting line with my brothers, I just wanted to run the race for them. When we finished, and I saw all of us exhausted from the race, that’s when it really set in.” Ingulli said of running her last race, “I was more anxious for this meet than any other this season. I felt the pressure to make the most of my last race, and the fact that it was New England’s and my senior day only helped to push me during my run. Luckily the extra pressure worked in my favor, and I broke my personal record which was a great way to end my cross country career at Choate.”

It was an emotional race for all the seniors, and it was a great way to finish off the season for both the girls’ and boys’ teams.

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