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South graduates stay on track in college

By Andrew Klegman
Published: September 2008

As the fall season opens, South looks to be very successful in boys’ and girls’ cross-country, but for some runners, it is a bittersweet feeling as they enter their final season with the Lions. For the seniors running for the last time in high school, this may or may not be their last season of cross-country. Some will continue to pursue their running endeavors in college, and some will hang up the spikes for the last time.

Whether planning to run cross-country in the future or not, the current seniors can look up to their former senior leaders, now freshmen in college, and see how successful they have become. Their success in cross-country should inspire any current seniors to continue running in the future.

Three of these seniors are former cross-country captains Nina Slote, Cliff Bargar, and Sonya Freeman; they are all currently running cross-country at their respective school. Not all of them were recruited, but each has worked hard to earn a spot on the team and has thoroughly enjoyed their new running experience.

Slote currently attends Bates College in Maine. Since early in high school she knew she wanted to run at a small school because she loved being part of the team at South. Slote was recruited to Bates, and though she says it was a large factor in her decision to attend the school, running was not her first priority. “Being recruited definitely attracted me to Bates and being part of a team has made the transition into college a lot easier, Slote said.

In terms of difficulty, besides getting more mileage, Slote feels college cross-country has not been much harder. The biggest difference she notices, however, is that everyone on the team is truly committed to the sport. “[At Bates] you’re doing it not because it looks good on a college application, but because you’re passionate about the sport, Slote said.

“I hadn’t given it much thought until I started applying to college, but I had probably first thought I would run in college during my freshman year at South, Bargar says. As his high school career progressed, his passion for cross-country increased. It became a huge part of his life, so he planned to continue in college.

Bargar, currently at Tufts University in Somerville, Massachusetts, was not recruited, but he did meet with the coach, who assured him that he would make the team if he were accepted to the school; Bargar jumped at the opportunity and applied.

For Bargar, the biggest differences are time commitment and overall intensity. “At Tufts, the workouts, warm-ups, and cool-downs are all much longer. In high school, a long workout would probably be around six to seven miles, whereas workouts here are commonly eight to 10 miles, sometimes more, he said.

Though Bargar commits more time and effort to the program at Tufts than he did in high school, he can confidently say that four years of Newton South cross-country prepared him extremely well for college running.

For Freeman, running became a “semi-addiction as she ran in all twelve high school seasons. Though she was unsure if she wanted to continue in college, a meeting with the Wesleyan coach soon changed her mind. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to run competitively in college because I was also interested in music and theater. I didn’t think there would be enough time to cover everything I was interested in doing. When I met the Wesleyan team, however, I became more interested. They are all very friendly and talented, and I am lucky to be a part of the team! Freeman said.

In the end, Freeman was recruited to run at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and she sites the biggest change between running in high school and college as the coaches’ mentality towards training. She finds herself doing fewer workouts, more cross-training, and longer mileage. Though Freeman finds college cross-country much different, she acknowledges that her work in high school was very helpful as well. “High school and college training are both challenging and effective, she concluded.

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