The Whitman-Hanson Regional high boys’ cross county team clinched its first league title in seven years with a win over Marshfield on Wednesday, Oct. 28.
Whitman-Hanson Regional High boys’ cross country head coach Steve George wasn’t sure what to expect going into last week’s meet against Marshfield with the Patriot League Keenan Division title on the line.
Junior Nathan Tassey, one of the Panthers’ top runners, felt under the weather earlier in the day. George knew they weren’t going to win without him. Marshfield, which is in its first year in the Patriot League, dominated the Atlantic Coast League before it folded, winning the league six times in a row from 2013-18. Then last fall, the Rams went 5-0 playing a Patriot League schedule.
“I was concerned when Marshfield was added to the Patriot League this year, something I advocated for actually,” George said. “Even over the past couple of weeks, each time athletic director Bob Rodgers asked if we were going to win this thing, I never expressed certainty. He however, insisted we would.”
Rodgers was right.
W-H (5-0) placed four of the top six runners and squeaked by Marshfield (4-1), 26-29, to capture the program’s first league championship since 2013.
Senior captain Theo Kamperides took first overall with a time of 16:34, finishing the regular season unbeaten.
“I was really nervous, but that’s normal,” Kamperides said. “I thought we had a chance, and our coaches were very motivational and positive. I’m so proud of my team for winning the league title.”
Said George: “[Theo] is a workhorse. He simply loves running and puts in the time and miles necessary to excel. The adage is it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. Theo is putting that to the test.”
The Rams placed the next two runners before Panthers senior captain Liam Cafferty (4th, 17:04) and Tassey (5th, 17:09) crossed the finish line neck-and-neck.
“I really was concerned when Nathan (Tassey) couldn’t practice on Tuesday, the day before the meet,” George said. “He had some doubts about his ability when he arrived prior to the meet, but that ended when the gun went off.”
Senior captain Chris MacDonald (6th, 17:37) and junior Gordon Johnson (10th, 18:18) rounded out the scoring for W-H.
“Until this season, I was never certain every athlete bought into what we were trying to accomplish and how to get there,” said George, who took over the program in 2014. “With so many fourth-year runners and dedicated captains, it wasn’t just the coaching staff trying to impress the team, it was their peers also. We had three adult coaches and a couple dozen student-athletes coaching as well. I’ve looked forward to this year as the season when we could go wire-to-wire.”
George said he hopes this season’s success will help shine a light on the cross country program moving forward.
“Seeing our athletes, who are a very happy and cohesive group has to have an impact on some of them who may think cross country is worth a try,” George said. “We’ve got room on our teams for anybody interested. I’ve never met a cross country athlete who regretted the decision to run.”
And you don’t have to look any further than Kamperides.
“Joining the cross country team was the best decision of my life,” he said. “The chemistry on this team is like no other. Everyone worked so hard in order to win and they all truly deserve it.”