December 2, 2020

Clippers cross country eyes postseason

The Grafton High School boys’ cross country team is looking forward to the postseason after a strong regular season.

The Clippers have as much momentum as they could possibly have. They finished the regular season 9-0 in district meets, taking claim to the Bay Rivers District title.

“The season is going great,” Coach Nick Valenti said. “I am excited that we are having this much success with such a young team. Only one of the runners in the top five is graduating, so I feel like next year will be much better, as the kids develop.”

The future is bright for the Clippers; however, the season hasn’t been without adversity as the Clippers lost a top-five runner for the season due to an injury. The rest of the team was able to fight through and still have success. With the regional meet next up, Valenti feels the team is ready for postseason success.

“We are set up for success in the postseason,” Valenti said. “The boys know we are far from the finish line. Workouts have never been better, and the boys are excited. I am blessed to work with a group this year that buys into the system completely, and that buy-in is paying off.”

The Clippers top four of Alex Murphy, Ben Madrigal, Zachary Sturm and Dylan Raney have done a really good job of training together and are all holding up their end of the bargain. Valenti has been impressed by Murphy, because he comes from a middle-distance background in track. He mentioned that guys like that are normally harder to convince to run cross country, but Murphy has been the top runner and hasn’t had trouble with the transition at all.

John Linehan has stepped into the fifth spot for the Clippers, and Valenti believes the fifth runner is just as important as the first runner. It was important for Grafton to keep its work ethic strong from the end of the outdoor track season throughout the summer, and the Clippers believed that has paid off.

“The kids trained hard over the summer, maintaining a base from outdoors,” he said. “We started the season fit and have built from there. The expectation of the team was to be performing exactly as we are performing.”

Grafton has had some impressive finishes so far this year. The most notable came recently when they finished second at the Milestat Invitational out of 145 schools.

The Class 4 Region A has some tough teams in it; however, Grafton has a strong chance to finish high and to continue that success into the Class 4 state meet as well.