CROSS RIVER – The suitors will have to wait.
Eion Nohilly hasn’t decided what college he’ll run for next year and may not decide for a couple of months.
That’s the only thing he hasn’t done fast all year.
It’s one thing to have big goals, and another to deliver on them.
Nohilly, 17, the Journal News boys Westchester/Putnam cross-country runner of the year, certainly did.
“I definitely checked off a lot of goals,” said Nohilly, who won six major meets, including the Section 1 Coaches Invitational, Westchester County Championship and Section 1 Championship, all in personal-record times for those races.
He was able to place check marks next to being top-five at both States (where he was fourth) and at the Federation Championships.
His most memorable moment didn’t come in a win but rather during his fifth-place finish at Feds, when he broke 16 minutes (15:57.10) at Bowdoin Park. Cracking 16 there had been an impossible task for Section 1 runners this year, and for good reason, since Bowdoin requires runners to be part mountain goat to succeed.
“That was a big PR and I was able to compete with the best in the state,” said Nohilly, whose time beat those of 250 boys and was 26 seconds faster than he’d ever run at Bowdoin.
Runners give up a lot to run, mostly hours and hours of their lives. But to run year-round, Nohilly also gave up three much-liked sports in baseball, football and wrestling.
He and his dad have different takes on what those other sports lost.
Tom Nohilly, who coaches the John Jay boys running teams and the girls team, on which Eion’s twin sisters, Brooke and Kathryn, run, said, “He played all types of sports and was good at all of them.”
Eion indicates there’s a significant gap between his talent for running and the talent for his other sports, the last of which, wrestling, he gave up after 10th grade to run indoor track.
He wrestled at 126 pounds and had some varsity matches but most were JV.
“I wasn’t very good,” he said.
He switched to indoor track, considering it a vehicle to attract more attention from college coaches.
But wrestling helped make him the runner he is.
“Wrestling helped me a lot to appreciate running,” he said. “The mental strength those guys have to cut weight and to be in shape, I see how committed they are. It motivated me to take running to the next level.”
But Nohilly, who was second last spring in the steeplechase at the Nike Nationals and first in Class A at sectionals at 1,600 meters, has never seemed to lack motivation.
Sure, he no doubt inherited strong runner genes. Tom, who was an NCAA champion, ran professionally for a decade, was a member of multiple U.S. teams and twice missed out on qualifying for the Olympics by less than a second in the steeplechase. And his mother, Kim, was a hurdler, heptathlete and high jumper at the University of Florida, where Tom also attended school. But in track and cross country you don’t win without serious training, and Nohilly takes only one day off from training every two to three weeks.
He includes mountain biking and weightlifting in his training, so it’s “interesting” and not just “pound and run all the time.”
But much of his training is running with his John Jay buddies, and he especially enjoys cross-country training with them because their long runs take them away from coaches and allow for chatter and a little goofing around. Keeping things light is a goal and Nohilly has things in perspective, remarking, “We like to have fun with what we do and never take ourselves too seriously. In perspective, there are a lot of people doing things more impressive and better than what we do.”
True, but no one doubts his commitment.
“He’s always been very persistent, patient and thought things through,” his dad said. “He has a lot of fight in him. He has a lot of grit. He’s a tough kid. To be a good runner you have to be tough. He obviously has some talent, but what makes him even better is his ability to work hard and to tough it out.”
He’s working hard now with specific goals in mind, including running under 4:10 in the mile and qualifying for the Millrose Games mile and breaking nine minutes in the steeplechase and taking the Nike national crown in that event.
Then he plans to run for some college, hoping to make an “impact on a national level” in steeplechase.
His dad, who calls his under-16 performance at Bowdoin “pretty amazing,” isn’t putting limits on his son.
“If someone has the heart and desire, you can’t measure how far they can go,” he said.
The rest of The Journal News Westchester/Putnam first-team cross-country all-stars:
Luke Carmosino, So., Irvington: A personal-best 15:58.8 at the Westchester County meet was just one of many highlights for Carmosino, whose year included six top-10 finishes.
Greg Crowley, Jr., Scarsdale: At 18th, Crowley was the first local Class A finisher at States, He also won the Section 1 Coaches race and Section 1 Championship and was second at counties.
Drew Dorflinger, Sr., Pleasantville: Dorflinger started the season with a Red Raider win and never took his foot off the gas pedal. He was second at the Bobcat Run and second by class at the Section 1 Coaches Invitational and sectional championships.
Ryan Gallagher, Jr., Braircliff: Gallagher posted seven top-five finishes and ran a personal-best 16:07.8 at counties.
Kevin Hazelwood, Sr., Brewster: By season’s end, he was running on fumes. But what a season Hazelwood had. He recorded six big-meet wins, including the Northern Counties Championship, was second at the Section 1 Championship in Class B, and seventh at States.
Samuel Morton, Jr., Mamaroneck: Thirty-fifth out of 255 in the Federation meet, Morton had a strong season start to finish, with a fourth-place finish at counties, third at the sectional meet and 21st at States.
Coach of the year: Brett Alcantara, Pleasantville: The first-year coach inherited a team that had lost three of its top runners to graduation. But Alcantara’s Panthers won the Westchester County Championship and were single-digit points away from qualifying for the Federation meet.
Mike Delfay, Sr., Brewster
Greg Fusco, So., Somers
Matt Fusco, So., Somers
Aidan McDermott, Sr., Pleasantville
Conner Sexton, Sr., Rye Neck
JC Yahia, Jr., Pleasantville
Will Young, Jr., Mamaroneck
Joe Abate, So., Putnam Valley; Nicholas Farrell, So., Haldane; Max Greene, Sr., Brewster; Theo Henderson, Sr., Haldane; Erik Jacobsen, So., Brewster; Declan McDermott, So., Pleasantville; Matt Neundorf, Sr., Briarcliff; Tom O’Rourke, Fr., Carmel; Giovanni Orozco, Jr., Valhalla; Nico Papalia, Jr., Somers; Leonard Pietrafesa, Sr., Port Chester; Luca Riolo, Jr., Brewster; Alex Rizzo, Fr., Bronxville; Matt Rizzo, Fr., Bronxville; Matthew Sayre, Jr., Lakeland/Panas; Cameron Stafford, Jr., Fox Lane; Conor VanRiper, So., Putnam Valley.