If competition truly does breed better results then good days are definitely on the horizon for the Kenmore West cross country team.
Looking over the team’s 2016 roster, Blue Devils coach Marty Madore feels that there is skill and depth on both the girls’ and boys’ rosters.
“They’re more than capable of holding their own in the races,” Madore said of both the boys’ and girls’ teams.
“It’s whether or not all the work that they put in during the summer and now, can they put forth into a race. The key is not just those (top) seven, but the next three or four that are pushing for spots on the varsity. They’re pushing to move up the line and competition is great. For a lot of years we haven’t had true competition for the last two or three spots. What’s nice with the number of kids that we have this year is we have good competition. So if somebody does have a bad race we’ve got somebody else who can step right in.”
Leading the way for the boys’ team are seniors Collin Lynch, whom co-head coach Joe Catalano calls a great leader and very “well mannered young man”, and Kahlil Saadiq.
Shooting up from No.7 on the depth chart last season to No.1 this year, Saadiq is someone Madore feels will shock a lot of people by how much he has improved.
“I’m trying to have good times, but I’m trying to make the kids, the young ones better,” said Saadiq. “Just trying to make everyone on the team better for years to come.”
Saadiq thinks that the rise in talent and depth across the roster is making everyone better because that kick up in competition from within is forcing everyone to be at their best each and every day.
“It’s cool,” Saadiq said. “Because last year we were good, but a lot of us weren’t working hard enough. This year we’ve got a lot of hard working kids that are young, too. It’s going to be cool to see what they can do in the future.”
Something to be said when it comes to dedication, Saadiq and Lynch, as well as senior Dan Hudson, sophomore Vince Mendez and junior Brian Mahoney, all run year-round. Senior Alex Militello is also among the Blue Devils top seven male runners.
The top seven on the girls team highlights the balance of the roster as it features girls from eighth grade to senior year.
Leading the way for the girls are seniors Kassidy Menke and Olivia Masecchia.
“What really has me the most optimistic is the fact that each girl encompasses a certain kind of drive,” Olivia Masecchia said, “and the practices you can just see their drive and enthusiasm trying to get to their goals and improve. And they also have their other teammates to help them.”
The junior class is represented by Frankie Mercado and Nikki Reyes, while sophomores Alanna Krug and Sara Koupal. Last, but certainly not least, is eighth grader Laura Cohn, who Madore and Catalano both feel is talented enough to qualify for states as a middle schooler.
“Everyone pushes each other very hard,” said Kassidy Menke. “And honestly it is very hard to tell who should be on the varsity because everyone is very close and always working together to get better.”
Regardless of how the season pans out the future looks great for the Blue Devils as there are six eighth graders among the 36 athletes on the team.
“They’re gaining experience,” Madore said, “and as the seniors graduate the next crop comes in.”