As the runners of the North Shore High School Women’s Cross Country Team crossed the finish line of their Sept. 11 race, they celebrated not just that win, but a culmination of 16 years with 200 consecutive wins.
The team is undefeated in its league since Oct. 15, 2007. North Shore Cross Country Coach
Neal Levy has been running the program since the winning streak began. He has overseen the group throughout the span of their undefeated tenure, and attributes the consistent success to the passion of his runners and their willingness to train hard, year in, year out.
“A lot of times in the extracurriculars, you know sports or arts or music, people are always looking for the most talented kids. I’m looking for the most passionate,” Levy said. “It’s just the mindset of kids working together and just training at a high level over a period of time.”
Unlike most other sports, cross country competitions are never just two teams facing off against each other. Each league competition consists of three to four teams running against each other, so if a team beats all three of their opponents, they count as having three full wins.
This makes their recent milestone even more impressive, as facing off against multiple teams makes it that much more likely to lose to at least one opponent.
This recent victory made history not just for the North Shore, but across all Long Island as well, as the team now has the longest winning streak in Long Island women’s cross country history. Sam Nadel, a former runner for the team who graduated from North Shore in 2012, said that she was incredibly excited and proud when she heard the news.
Nadel continued to run in college and currently works as a cross country coach at George Washington University. She started running for North Shore at the beginning of the winning streak in 2008. She said the quality of Levy’s coaching has been pivotal to North Shore team’s continued success, and that she thinks it’s amazing to see the next generation of runners carrying the legacy forward.
“That was just always something that was really important to us, keeping that streak alive, and it’s really cool to see now how far they’ve gone with that,” Nadel said. “I think it just speaks to the competitiveness of the program and that striving for excellence and always wanting to be on top.”
Levy explained that while winning was obviously important to him and the team, the focus has never been on earning accolades or making history. For his coaching style, he prefers to take one race at a time and focus on making sure everyone does their best.
“It’s not so much about winning or losing; it’s about the process to get there,” Levy said. He added that one benefit of the milestone is creating cross-generational bonds between current and former runners. “It’s just one big giant, you know, family tradition for an extended period of time.
North Shore sophomore runner Joanna Kenny added that the one race at a time mentality went a long way to helping her and her fellow runners keep their nerves steady at the Sept. 11 race. Kenny said that by keeping the focus on herself and her own performance, she was able to do her best despite the momentous importance of that particular race.
“There’s always butterflies in my stomach before a race, but I wasn’t like super, extra nervous just because it was the 200th one,” Kenny said. “I knew we got it and I trusted my teammates.”
While Levy said he’s proud of his runners for achieving this milestone, the focus will continue to be on the rest of the season. He and his runners say they have no plans to rest on their laurels, as senior Sophia Marchioli explained.
“We know that we’ve worked hard and we’re very proud of ourselves, but also after we had won we kind of had the understanding that this isn’t it for us,” Marchioli said. “So we have to just put our heads down and keep working. We have other big goals for the rest of the season.”