It’s not about the place, but more about the race

We all were 6 once
October 29, 2021

Two-way player - I was stuck between stop and go ready to capture the start of the girls’ race at the Sussex County Cross Country Championships at Sandhill Fields. The girls were heading west while a young man last in the boys’ race was coming back east. “I can’t leave my boy hanging,'' I said to a group of strangers. My personal code is to wait for the last runner. I will match their toughness by hanging like a loyal dog. Holden Sherman looks more like a linebacker than a cross country runner. Coach Rob Perciful told me early in the boys’ race, “Holden went out hard three minutes under his personal best at the halfway point. I'm really interested to see how he does.” “There’s a bear waiting for him in the woods,” I said. “You should have attached a GPS to his shoe so the cart can find him.” Holden rounded the bend heading for home, clocking a time of 35:02, two minutes below his person best. The entire crowd cheered. And then the girls’ race started, with Brynn Crandell of Indian River flying into the record books with a time of 17:58. Brynn only smiled when she was back surrounded by her teammates. She’s a great kid, just like Holden, sharing the same moment with different stories. 

Seahawks dive for the prize - Sadie Tunnell was running. Sherri, her mom; Sharpie, her granddad; and even grandma Sandi holding Sugar the dachshund dog were there to watch. Seahawks assess and acquire the target then swoop in and snatch it up on the fly. Coaches and fans of cross country knew Cape was a slight favorite, but Jay Diaz had his top seven Sussex Academy runners ready. The top five for each team all crossed under 22 minutes. Low score wins, as your place is the number you contribute. I asked Rob Perciful, Tim Bamforth and Rick Hundley, all on the spectrum when it comes to calculations of runners in real time, “who beat?” They babbled having no idea. It was that close. Perciful later gave the first hint of what happened, “Coach Jay just congratulated me and said the score was tied at 40 and by rule the tie was broken by the sixth runner.” Allison Head, Cape’s sixth runner, ran a personal best time of 22:02, with Sussex Academy’s Peyton Stanislav (22:12) and Kasi Showers (22:13) on her heels. Ariana Adili-Khams, Cape’s No. 7, ran 22:26. These two teams will race again Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Henlopen Conference Championship meet. I don’t want to be the locked-in, all-wheel drive Cape guy caught up in celebration while missing the bigger story of all the athletes who put heart and soul into effort.  

Bananarama - Tim Bamforth spotted me wearing a sweatshirt he gifted his former track coach and said, “Hey, Banana Boy!” During the Sussex County Championship at Sandhill Fields, Jeff Jones stepped from the crowd and I was back in 1977. “I can tell it, but can’t sell it,” I said to all gathered around. Jeff was on Cape’s first state championship team in 1977 that I coached 44 years ago. Danielle Barthelmess, a longtime friend there to watch her son Drew run for IR (17:57) said, “I was 6 years old.” I responded, “we all were 6 years old once.” How clever a retort is that? Jeff was also on the 1979 state championship team coached by George Pepper. We talked of old runners, several of whom are no longer walking the planet. 

No Mercy - Dom Scott played field hockey for Cape, then at East Stroudsburg with Amanda Haxton. She later coached at Beacon. This year, she’s at Sussex Tech. The Ravens played at Cape in the second game of the season and got housed, losing 12-1, including an 11-0 halftime deficit. I can’t remember if Cape took its foot off the gas or if the Ravens fought off their backs in the second half. But if you know Dominique, you know she is relentlessly energetic and positive – and smart too. The Ravens are now 10-4 on the season and ranked in the top five of Division I schools on the way to the state tournament. One of the great coaching jobs of the fall season. Sussex Tech has gotten good enough to be scary. 

Snippets - I don’t know why I’m a Houston Astros fan. I just like their team; it’s not because of Dusty Baker, it’s because of the players. “But they cheated” I hear from baseball guys who, like many of my friends, went to elaborate lengths to cheat on tests in high school and college rather than study only to find out how dumb they are. Studying then passing is easier than cheating. You can bet your deflated football on that one. “I’m kidding” is what people say after saying how they really feel. But seriously, I’m kidding. Go on now, git! 


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter