Bolton High School cross-country teams off to a good start
By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Bolton - posted Thu., Sep. 22, 2011
The Bolton High School boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams are off to a good start. According to coach Paul T. Smith, the boys’ team swept the first meet and the girls won two out of three. “The kids ran well,” said Smith. Last year, the boys’ team was runner-up in the Class S division, and the girls finished in the middle of the pack. “Our goal this year is for the girls to move up,” he added.
“This is the first year we think we’ve got a sure chance to make the states with the boys,” said junior Rachel Chambers, captain of the girls’ cross-country team. Chambers explained that the cross-country teams keep growing because the teams keep winning. “I like it because it’s a family,” she added, “We’re really close.”
Both teams lost their top runner to graduation, but the rest of the runners have returned, plus some strong underclassmen. “It takes seven to make up a cross-country team,” explained Smith. “Both teams are deeper than last year.”
Junior Brendan Callahan is co-captain of the boys’ team, with senior Thomas Cassello. With 43 boys on the team this year, Callahan explained that being on the team has become a great way to meet new people. All the same, he added, “They’re all really serious. Our team’s shaping up really well.” Most of the team ran over the summer in order to improve their speed and conditioning.
“Both teams have improved greatly,” said assistant coach Mark Mishriky. “You’d think it would be hard to manage [so large a team], but the kids are self-starters.”
Several years ago, Smith began presenting hand-painted rocks to the runners with perfect attendance at practice and meets. “It’s taken on a life of its own,” said Chambers. “Everyone wants one.” Last year, Smith said he gave rocks to about half the team, as symbols of their commitment.
Recently, when Smith was named Teacher of the Year, he received a hand-painted rock from the superintendent of schools. Smith teaches social studies at Bolton High School, including Advanced Placement United States and European history, as well as other upperclassmen U.S. history classes. “Being a coach makes you a better teacher,” said Smith, “and being a teacher makes you a better coach.”