Joe Griffin, or “Griffin III” as I like to call him (he is the youngest of three Griffin boys to run for our program) is one of the most well-liked, responsible, and improved members on our team. Despite having to deal with asthma, an ailment most of his teammates don’t have to deal with, he has quietly and steadily gotten faster each year he has been with us.
Joe started his speech by updating the team on his very good friend and XC team member Garret Schmidt, who has been in the hospital for over a week due to a severe case of pneumonia he contracted this summer. True to Joe’s character, he has been to visit Garret several times, and informed the team that Garret would be having surgery today, but expected to be back in school by next week. Sadly, Garret will likely not be able to compete in any races this season, as his body will need time to recover, but he is very much part of the fabric of our team -as Joe alluded in his remarks. Joe next said he wanted to address the “team aspect” of HCXC. Of his teammates, he said, “these guys are the best; everyday I come to practice with a smile knowing I will be seeing them.” He told a story of a run the ‘black group’ did together that came to be known as “Rio de Pobre.” Evidently, on a day when the team was to run the Western Spring Route, members of the black group found themselves by the stream that runs just east of I-294. They spontaneously decided to build a damn across the river. Then tried to cross it. No one made it across dry. Joe assured me they finished the proper mileage that day; more importantly, they had another cherished shared memory. Says Joe about HCXC, “everyday is a new adventure.”
Josh Feldman is one of the most consistent athletes I have ever coached. He is methodical in his training, and as a consequence has improved by leaps and bounds. To cite one example, he ran 16:05 for 3200 in his first ever time trial. By the end of his freshman year, he’d dropped this to 10:55. By Sophomore track, it was down to 10:18. At the end of last season he’d run 9:41. And he’s only gotten stronger since then. Josh has emerged as a quiet leader for our team, and has positioned himself to have a breakthrough senior season.
Josh started with a simple message: “stick with the program; give our sport a shot. At the start is when it is the hardest; but it will become more fun as you improve and get faster.” Josh recalled his very first practice, which was at Waterfall Glen. He ran one mile out, and one mile back. He was sweaty and exhausted and laid down on a picnic table for ten minutes. He said that this feeling of total exhaustion did not go away, until, suddenly, it did. Once the meets started, Josh started running personal best, and he began to understand the appeal of Cross Country. He encouraged the freshman on our team to be patient, but to know that the work would pay off before the end of their first season. When Josh was a freshman, we had a challenge for the freshman (first proposed by Mike Lyons): the “sub 5 challenge.” If five freshman broke 5:00 for the 1600, we’d buy the entire team $5 footlong subs from subway. This has never happened before. Josh’s freshman class was the first to achieve it. We shall see what they do now that they are seniors!