Tough Upcoming Season For Cross Country Boys


Walpole’s 2011 team racing against Milton

Pat Connell

Walpole's 2011 team racing against Milton.

This year, Walpole High’s Boys Cross Country team will most likely not  live up to the legacy that the preceding years have left behind. Six of last year’s top seven runners — the number of scoring runners on a team — have graduated, with the other runner in that group being junior Anthony DiVirgilio. Out of the all the returning runners of the 12 teams in the Bay State Conference, DiVirgilio is ranked 11th.

Last year the top two runners, Zach Ganshirt and Justin Connolly, were ranked second and fifth, respectively, which makes this year’s team pale in comparison. Also, aside from Brookline, Walpole had the fastest third-best runner in the league last year, Chris “Feast” Conley. This team of elite racers came in sixth at the Division II Eastern Massachusetts Championships, and they needed at least fourth place to move on. In 2010, we came in third, but our top two at the time, were still Ganshirt and Connolly, both performed worse than they had last year.

One of the problems for us is that DiVirgilio and senior captain Kevin Delaney are the only two returning athletes from Walpole to race under 18 minutes in a five kilometer race. A sub-18 time is the standard for receiving a varsity letter unless the person is one of the top seven runners. This is troubling because where we had nine people under 18 last year, but only two this year, granted we have about five athletes on the cusp of breaking it. But another factor is that we don’t have anymore top tier athletes to pull us through. DiVirgilio had 21 other non-senoirs coming in front of him at the Eastern Mass. Championships, where Ganshirt had only two runners in total beat him.

When asked about how he feels in terms of the direction the team is heading this year, Delaney said,”I think it will be tough, but we’ve been working hard throughout the summer, training everyday, so I think we can come out with at least a Herget Division victory if we continue with our diligent effort.”