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Calhoun boys capture cross-country title

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Calhoun’s boys’ cross-country team parlayed an undefeated regular season into its first Nassau County championship since 2015.

The Colts, paced by freshman Logan Schaeffler, produced four of the top 10 finishers in the Class II race over the makeshift 5K course at Eisenhower Park on April 17. Schaeffler placed third with a personal-best time of 16 minutes, 32.75 seconds.

“We had a deep team and I thought we had a good shot to win the county based on our times throughout the season,” coach David Hendler said. “The guys have worked so hard for a long time. They never stopped working during the pandemic and their stay-with-it attitude was a big reason why they were so successful.”

Hendler said the condensed winter track season, which began Jan. 4 and lasted about six weeks, had the kids fired up to compete. “Even though the winter meets were virtual and we were basically competing against ourselves and comparing times to other teams, it was great for the kids to go all-out again and race,” he said.

The coach also credited senior captains Logan Bader and Lucas Ahrens for their leadership. “They took charge during the long offseason,” Hendler said. “They kept everyone moving and staying positive.”

Bader ran a big final race, placing sixth in 16:51.81. “Logan wasn’t in our top 5 at the beginning of March and came a long way in a short time,” Hendler said. “When I saw where he was a mile-and-a-half into the race, I felt really good about our chances. He ended up dropping 30 seconds off his previous best time.”

Schaeffler made a strong impression in winter track, including a 4:49 mile, and was in the 17-minute range most of the cross-country season until his breakout performance in the county meet.

Calhoun’s No. 1 runner, junior John Schwab, gutted out a solid 7th-place finish after going out with the lead pack. He finished in 16:53.56. “The strategy was for him to run with the leaders and it was a hot pace,” Hendler said. “He still pushed through when some of the kids up front at the beginning fell back.”

Junior Alex Rosario (17:02. 08) finished 10th while cutting almost 15 seconds off his personal best. “He had an amazing season,” Hendler said. “He had to quarantine early on because of a close contact but he never really missed a step.”

Rounding out the scoring for Calhoun was junior Aidan Kopelman, who was All-County for a second straight season. He placed 16th. “He’s a gamer,” Hendler said. Sophomore Matt Belmonte gave the Colts a sixth finisher in the top 20.

“It’s a close-knit team,” Hendler said. “They feed off each other’s energy and don’t want to let each other down.”

Calhoun’s girls’ cross-country team, coached by Joe Migliano, finished Class II runner-up to South Side. Junior Julianna Razza finished ninth, senior Faith Dwyer was 10th, and senior Tali Gekhman placed 14th.