Cross Country Team Members Strive for Individual Goals

2021 Cross Country Team

The Pace cross country runners train and race as competitive individuals, but they also work hard together as a supportive team.

The ten Pace Setters on the cross country team–seven boys and three girls–trained three or four times per week from late August through October and competed in over twenty meets all around the city.

“We support each other and we push each other,” said team Captain Andy Cuenca Gil. “That’s our team spirit.” But he also pointed out that each person ran for their own personal gain and growth. “Each person tries to better themselves” in training and at the races.
According to Mr. Worthington, cross country coach since 2019, the Pace athletes primarily competed to improve their own personal best times in a race.

In September, Senior Ariel Reyna ran the 2.5-mile Prospect Park Grand Prix #2 with the time of 18:15. Two weeks later, on October 4 at the Staten Island Grand Prix #4, he had shaved almost a minute and a-half off his time, finishing the race in 16 minutes and 49 seconds.

All runners had a variety of reasons for joining the sport and also came in with varying levels of interest in running. Cuenca ran cross country his freshman year and has remained committed to the sport every year since–though Covid canceled the sport in the fall of 2020.
Junior Josselin Carmona was new to cross country this year, though she ran track in middle school. She said she joined because she wanted to try something new at Pace and to get in shape.

As the season progressed, she stayed committed to the team’s training regiment of Manhattan Bridge runs, flat runs in nearby Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and periodic weight lifting. Carmona ran her first race on October 13th in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park 5K (3.1 miles) with a time of 25:40.

Like Carmona, senior Ejames Villar joined for the first time this year. He saw cross country as a chance to “help with his endurance and stamina as fitness for his two other main sports: basketball and volleyball.”

“The training was grueling in the preseason summer,” Villar said. “It was a hard transition from not exercising much during quarantine.” But he improved considerably over the season, he said. In the first 3.1-mile races in September, he was one of the slowest runners on the team, he claimed, but by mid October was finishing in the top three among Pace runners.

Villar also gained new athletic techniques such as breathing more efficiently that he knows will help him in other sports. Villar credits Worthington’s skills as a coach. “He takes the sport seriously,” Villar said, but also stressed that coach Worthington made them feel comfortable as a team and helped everyone stay positive and motivated no matter where they placed at races.