We're kicking off a new series this fall, entitled the 5th Man Chronicles. Dedicated to the fifth runner on the squad, we want to hear the stories and perspectives from those in the mid-pack, essential for team scoring. Do you have an influential 5th Man? Do they have an interesting story? Your Coach can submit them for consideration by emailing email@example.com with a short blurb why they should be included. These can be for either the boys or girls teams' current 5th runner on the varsity team.
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What is your name, grade, and how long have you been running?
My name is Vickrum Bokinkere, I am a senior and I've been running since my freshman year. However, I started cross country as a Junior.
How was your teams' Summer Training? Did you train together? At a Camp? Separately on vacation?
Our team participates in mileage clubs, meaning that everyone who runs 350, 400, 450 or 500 miles over the summer gets incentives (merch). For the most part, we all trained together, coming to captains' practices (led by the captains) and drop-ins (led by coaches). Many of us were out of town for a decent amount of the summer, but we kept our mileage logs updated and kept our team chemistry going through our group chat. We often ran at Mendon Ponds Park along Quaker - often incorrectly called "purple trail."
What are some of the specific strengths your team might have this year?
We have been improving on working together and moving as a pack. So far this season, we have been able to execute this a couple of times and it has definitely been successful. It's all about shared suffering and running with a greater purpose-even if that means tasting lunch after a race.
What is a key workout/long run that solidifies your team as competition ready?
We recently did 1600m ladders at goal 5k pace. The workout went really well for me and the rest of our boys. We were hitting pace and feeling good. It gave me some confidence and allowed us to keep our eyes forward and kept us motivated for the season ahead of us.
What are some of your personal goals for the season, and what are some of your team's?
My main goals for the season are to get second-team all-county, run low 16s and top 50 in the boys seeded AA race at the McQuaid Invitational, and get top 10 at sectionals. As a team, we hope to win sectionals as an underdog in a competitive class.
Who is someone on your team that could have a big impact on your success this Fall?
Sam Baker is our top runner right now, he can definitely help us out in achieving our goals for the season, especially at sectionals. As long as he's up there, and our pack is right behind him, we can do big things.
Is there a particular race that you remember as having a special significance to you?
The 2018 His & Hers invitational 1600m has probably been my most memorable/ significant race. It was my first season of outdoor track when I began to take running seriously. I managed to surprise myself that race, and it proved to me all the clichés about running are true. Running is mostly mental and that the work you put in does show. I feel like that race was a real turning point for me, it gave me confidence and motivation to be a better runner.
What is one story, outside of a race, that best describes your team?
Sometime in early March, one of our first long runs of the outdoor season was interrupted by a blizzard halfway through. It was our longest run of the season, and for many, if not all of us, our longest run ever at the time. We managed to tough it out and just run through the pain. We ran fast and we ran strong, often having to close our eyes so we wouldn't get pelted. It was very painful during the run, but as soon as we finished it was so rewarding. When a blizzard pushes us, we'll push back; cross country is a team sport, it's not a question but a lesson learned in time.
What is it like running for your coaching staff?
Coach Rapp really pushes us to our limits. He often goes on runs with us and does workouts with us. He knows what he's talking about and genuinely cares about our team. Although he is relatively new to the Sutherland running program, he has had plenty of experience coaching in different districts. Aside from his terrible jokes, Rapp is a great coach and great person; he got me to take running seriously which I am grateful for. He's helping make Sutherland better, faster and more competitive. Coach Jones is our assistant coach who helps us stay healthy. In the past, injuries have plagued our team, but coach Jones's strength and mobility exercises, as well as her breathing exercises, help us limit our injuries. Along with that she gives us great encouragement during races and is always positive and supportive.
Is there any other shout out you'd like to give to anyone reading?
I'd like to give a shout out to former Coach Erwin, @Sutherland_fpd_project on Instagram, Huff, the bus driver, and all our seniors who graduated last year.