The Summit Country Day School boys’ cross country team earned the program’s first team state championship following the Division III state race Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. Summit had four runners score in the top-20.
Similar to the way a 3.1-mile race can feel for some people, the program has come a long way. When Kurtis Smith first arrived at The Summit, the running programs were struggling to find students. Now, it’s one of the most popular sports at Summit.
Success soon followed the influx of students.
This is the eighth time in 10 years that the boys’ cross country team has qualified to run at state, and the third time it has reached the podium. The team was runner-up in the race a year ago.
“This program is a dynasty,” Interim Upper School Director Kelly Cronin said.
During the meeting the night before the race, the coaches and runners discussed the strategy of not starting the race at too quick of a pace. The coaches instructed them to work their way toward the front of the pack over the course of the 3.1-mile race. They also discussed where runners needed to finish in the race to have a chance at winning as a team.
At the first mile mark, the team was in second place by 20 points. A mile later, they closed the gap to six points. With 800 meters to go, Summit held a seven-point lead. Cotton Family Head Cross Country Coach Kurtis Smith said he needed four runners to cross the line in the top-35 and the fifth needed to finish in the top-60.
They executed the plans to perfection.
“After all the hard work and the miles these guys have put in, this is truly their moment,” Coach Smith said. “Our spread, the time from when the first runner crossed the finish line to when the fifth crossed, was about 30 seconds. That is unbelievable. It was truly a team effort.”
The manner in which Summit won was rare, race officials told Coach Smith. Junior Evan Lakhia, Loveland, was the only Summit runner to finish in the top-20. A team has won the state race with only one runner in the top-20 on four other occasions.
“It was an absolutely thrilling race to watch,” Ms. Cronin said. “Watching Brian hoist the trophy over his head up there on the podium was an incredibly proud moment for all of us.”
For the cross country team, this accomplishment is the result of many hours of hard work during the offseason by the runners and coaches.
Senior Brian DeWine summed it up nicely: “This has been one of the hardest, longest processes we’ve gone through,” he said. “To see it all come together, it’s beautiful.”