BRHS cross country team using strength in numbers this year
“I hope we do well this year,” said Chilelli, who is among the top return runners to a team that lost three key contributors — Grant Tamutus, J.T. Rupp and T.J. Bamisile — to graduation. “We did OK [in the opener]. I think we have to work together. It helps to run side by side. The girls were running in pairs or groups of three and it helped them. “This was an eye-opener. For a couple guys it was their first meet. But we’ve got a pretty solid team. We lost some good people from last year, but the younger guys have been getting a lot better.”
Bordentown’s boys defeated one opponent in their season opener, but coach David Misselhorn and his runners believe the squad will improve with experience.
“I think we’re going to be pretty good,” said Bokma, a junior who is in his third year with the team. “I think we’re going to put up a good fight, at least for divisionals. We’re really supportive of everybody. We’re a really tight group. It’s like a family around us.”
“The guys are rebuilding, but they work hard and they try,” Misselhorn said. “That’s all you can ask.” The girls’ team lost two top contributors from last year — Leighanna Ritter and Shakara Siler — but have a good mix of veterans and newcomers this season.
Aishah Dukes, Gina Capone, Rebecca Sherrier, Emily Vernon, Alyssa West, Katelyn Anderson and Taylor Niedermaier were the top finishers as the Scotties beat Burlington Township, Palmyra and Maple Shade, with their only setback coming against powerful Rancocas Valley.
Brooke Niedermaier, Lindsay Guzik, Xochitl Calderon, Amelia Ditolvo, Danielle Park, Isebelle Stewart, Alexis Kelly, Eliza Peterson and Amanda Poreda complete the girls’ squad.
“I think our team is extremely good,” Dukes said. “We have good teamwork and stick together. I enjoy the team. I think we can definitely make it to states with the team we have. As long as we keep working hard in practice, we can definitely make it to states.”
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I think we have a lot of good girls and we’re keeping up with each other and staying in a good pack,” said Capone, who gave up cheerleading to run cross country. “I think we’re looking really strong. As long as we all keep improving and stick together, then we’ll be good.” For many of the Scotties, participation in cross country is part of their preparation for other sports — primarily track and field — later in the year.
“The workouts get me ready for track,” Dukes said. “It gets your endurance up. It gets you in shape. I definitely approach it differently. I do hurdles. Cross country, I approach differently in the mindset because it’s really hard. You have to push yourself and keep going.
“I tell myself to keep going and have a strong mind through the race. But this makes me last longer in the races on the track, it’s working up my cardio. It’s getting me in shape so I can run stronger races.”
Chilelli also runs in the spring, but is on the swim team during the winter.
“My swim coach said this was good cross training,” Chilelli said. “It helps the cardio for swimming and the leg muscles. It’s been helping my swimming a lot. But also the swimming has helped this. I’ve been able to do the cardio and run longer. I’ve gotten a lot better since my freshman year.”
Regardless of the motivation, camaraderie is one of the keys to overcoming the challenges of running long distance over rugged terrain.
“It’s all about getting over the fact you’re running three miles straight,” Bokma said. “No one would want to run that distance as fast as they can. That’s why I love running with my friends. They make it enjoyable to run, and that’s hard to do.”