A goal set four years ago and nourished in 2011 with all but one Warrior on the outside looking in comes full flower after 33 years for the Deerfield High School cross country team as it competes in the State Meet at noon Saturday in Peoria.
When Alex Gold, Jordan Abosch, Bryan Rosenberg, Shai Farhi and Max Rich were freshmen, they set a goal to reach the State Finals as a team by the time they were seniors. No Warrior cross country team had done that since 1980.
Earlier: Warrior Boys’ Cross Country Team Heads to State
“We bought into the Deerfield cross country tradition,” Gold said. “We have pride in the program as did the alumni before us.” How does that work when more than a generation has passed since the last trip?
“The senior class took us under their wing,” Farhi said. “We stood on their shoulders and took it to the next level.” In addition to the five seniors, juniors Maor Kramer and Reilly Grant will make the trip.
Though this is Deerfield’s first visit as a team to compete in Peoria, it is not the squad’s initial journey to the State Meet. Gold qualified in 2011 as an individual finishing 35th. The rest of the Warriors went with him to cheer. Now they are ready to compete.
“Alex did a lot to help us break the ice,” Frahi said. “To some degree we have all been there before. We know what to expect and what to do.”
The trip to State actually began in June when the Warriors committed to running 800 miles over the summer averaging 70 to 80 miles a week including two training camps. “This is all about the Paavo program,” Grant said.
Grant was referring to a regimen named for legendary distance runner Paavo Nurmi who never lost a cross country race during a 14-year career that included three Olympic Games from 1920 to 1928.
The Warriors gathered each morning in the summer—except when they were at the Paavo Camp—and ran together along the roads and trails of the North Shore for distances that could be as long as 12 miles.
The long runs and rigorous summer training helped prepare the Warriors not only for the conditioning they would need but bonded them into a team unit in a sport that is built on individual performance.
“It’s a friendly competition with each other,” Rosenberg said. “We keep trying to pass each other.”
That competition pushes the Warriors during races as well. “When you see a white Deerfield jersey ahead of you it gives you motivation to pass,” Farhi said.
In cross country, each runner scores points based on his finish with the winner earning one team point and the athlete in 10th adding 10 markers to the team tally. The standing of the first five finishers counts. The performance of the sixth and seventh runners matter too.
“Six and seven are important because they push other runners (from other teams) further behind,” Gold said.