The Cooperstown cross country team is in the middle of a good season, especially on the girls side.
“If you are going to run a hard race, you have to be able to think hard,” coach Jessie Ravage said. “It’s a sport that attracts the independent thinker. But make no mistake, cross country is the quintessential team sport. Everyone has the same job. Team first, then individual.”
Nowhere was that more apparent than at Saturday’s 71st E. J. Herrmann Cross Country Invitational in Utica, one of the oldest high school races in the region.
Cooperstown’s girls finished fifth out of 62 teams.
The young members on the team have done well, especially freshman, Samantha Fanion, winner of 2011 modified race, 1.5 miles, and newcomer sophomore Kristin Ratliff.
Although the team finished fifth, Ravitch said she hoped for a better performance. She said the distraction of homecoming and a lingering cold that hobbled Fanion leading up to the race, were possible causes for the team not reaching its full potential. Nonetheless, Radliff finished third overall in the 3.1-mile varsity course with a time of 20:48.6, while Fanion placed eighth at 21:09.1. The course included grass and trails, as well as three bridge crossings.
Now in her 22nd year of coaching, Ravage has an appreciation of the sport that is noticeable. A former competitor herself, she said she made it to the Massachusetts State Championship two years in a row after switching from field hockey to cross country her junior year.
When asked about the current state of cross country running, Ravage laments the fact that it is a relatively invisible sport.
“It’s our own fault, in a way. We manage ourselves without much outside interference,” she said.
By the same token, she hinted that cross country may lack the broad appeal of such traditional fall sports as football and soccer, thus garnering less attention and support for the team.