Ashland Boys Cross Country

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
November, 2019
Article Body: 

In the past Ashland cross country coach Lou Mancini has had some top runners that would cross the finish line in first and second place and then the Clockers would have a large void before the next runner would finish. Coming into this season Mancini does not have that outstanding runner but he does have a good group of athletes that will run as a pack.
While the season is still very young the Ashland coach has already seen the Clockers pack mentality in play. After defeating Norwood, Ashland then saw Medfield grab the first three finishing positions before the Clockers took 4, 5, 6, and 7 against Holliston. The Panthers had the top two spots and the Clockers were geared to grab positions three through 7 before the number eight runner made a move with 150 yards to go and slid into the fifth position. The move handed Ashland a heartbreaking 28-27 loss.
“We don’t have those top runners as of yet, but they are getting better,” Mancini said. “The pack mentality has helped us, but we still need someone to pop into that upper section of runners to be successful.”
The Clockers lead pack runner has been junior Kael Zelinsky, who has been putting up a time in the low 18 minute range. Zelinsky has consistently been Ashland’s top runner through the early part of the season while his teammates have been finishing in the mid 18’s. Mancini would like to see his pack drop their times into the 17 minute range, but he knows that’s not going to be all that easy.
Senior Jeff Wright and junior Ben Herrera not only run cross country for the school but the duo also wrestles and brings a tough mindset to the sport. Other pack runners included juniors Chris Moriarty, Mike Celatka, Matt Long and Nate Levine.
Of the junior runners Levine has improved his game and has seemed to come out of nowhere this season.
“Nate keeps getting better and better with each year,” the Ashland Coach said. “In the Holliston match at the quarter mile he was ninth and I told him that he needed to get with the rest of the pack. By the time he came around the edge he was in seventh place. He’s a hard working kid that never gives up.”
The Clocker runners have already shown that they have the determination to make that move, but Mancini believes that the group is still not there just yet.
“We’re not in the top just yet, we are close at times, but we need to continue to work hard and improve,” he said. “As to how well we do in the fall all hinges on what they did during the summer. Not all of our athletes are year round runners, in fact only Kael and Nate run track as well as cross country. The rest participate in other sports.”
In the past Mancini believes that his team had a mentality that when they went up against a certain team who had continuously beaten then they knew they were going to lose. That mentality needs to be broken and the team needs to adapt to a mental toughness.
“We have a good nucleus of runners who need to believe in their abilities,” Mancini said. “Building the pack mentality certainly helps, but we need to lower our times or we’ll never be able to get over that hump. We’re probably still another year away.”
Ashland will continue to go about running as a pack, hoping that someone emerges as a bona fide number one runner all the while trying to decrease their times. If they can drop those times down the Clockers could find themselves amongst a successful cross country season.