THIELLS – The big cliché in sports – well, one of many big cliches, anyway – talks about taking things a “game at a time,” never looking down the road to a game or opponent well in the distance.
This, of course, means never ever talking about championships during the preseason.
So call new North Rockland boys varsity cross-country coach Chris Lent a rebel.
“I feel we’re a sleeper,” the former five-year modified cross-country coach said during Monday’s opening day of practice. “I really hope to make big waves, open eyes and be like a big surprise and win the league, county, section and, hopefully, go beyond.”
Beyond, of course, would be States, and maybe more.
“I think as a team we can make it all the way to Federations and maybe even NXN,” junior Patrick Tuohy said, referring to the Nike Cross Nationals.
It’s an ambitious plan for a team that, hampered in part by injuries, fell well short of its goals last fall, failing even to finish among the top three in Rockland.
But having lost only one runner to graduation and with roughly 40 boys on the team, including Tuohy, fellow junior Ryan Guzinski and senior Dylan Serino, who gained All-State honors during winter track and All-Section honors last spring, Lent has reason to be optimistic.
He calls those boys the “big three.”
And all three have big plans for the team.
“We’re looking to stay healthy and start fresh,” said Serino, who missed part of the past cross-country season with a foot stress fracture.
“We’re a lot hungrier and willing to work hard and get the job done,” said Guzinski, who considers 2014 and ’15 county champ Pearl River the Red Raiders’ chief obstacle to a Rockland title and Arlington as the same for the Section 1 crown.
But obstacle doesn’t mean roadblock and Tuohy, citing team leadership and bonding, said, “I think this year is definitely going to be a good one.”
Lent, who played some of his preferred heavy metal and hard rock as an adrenaline-enhancer, put Tuohy and his teammates through 5K time trials Monday to get an idea of where the team stands.
“It’s 100 percent I’m looking for – not 99, not 98,” he told his team. “As long as you give 100 percent, you’ll see the improvement.”
With his Red Raiders possibly running well into November.