[Nov. 2016 Sports] Ahmad runs past competition


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By Brendan Massoud ’17

 

The boys’ cross country team is undefeated; notching 15 regular season wins in addition to FCIAC, State Open and New England Championships. The team is led by Zak Ahmad ’17, an All-American cross country runner and Staples High School captain, who has quickly risen to the pinnacle of the sport over the course of the past couple seasons.

While for most high school teams going unbeaten and winning a conference championship would be an incredible accomplishment, Zak Ahmad ’17 claimed that for his team, the season had only just begun.

“It all comes down to the State Open Championship,” Ahmad said.

Ironically, his team far exceeded expectations, and went on to win the New England Championship on November 12, which took place in Ponaganset, Rhode Island.

Ahmad, who won the FCIAC championship 5-kilometer race in 15 minutes and 49.42 seconds, went on to win the state championship in 15 minutes and 46 seconds. “It feels incredible to be a part of the group of top runners in the state over the past few years,” Ahmad said in reaction to his team capturing the state title.

As a whole, the team employs strength in numbers to dominate opponents. In FCIAC competition, for example, Staples had four of the top six finishing runners.

“We had more people training [this year], which has lead to better consistency,” Sunil Green ’18, who came in 11th place at FCIACs and 29th at New Englands, said.

Coming off a state championship last season, the Wreckers went into this year with intentions of repeating with even better times. Naturally, the training regimen itself has remained relatively the same.

“Nothing really changed… The training has been just as focused,” Ahmad said. “Having more experience you just continuously get better.”

In regional competition, Ahmad took third place, running the race in 15 minutes, 30 seconds. The squad now sets its sights on national competition; the regional qualifier for nationals takes place on Nov. 26.

“We definitely have a good shot,” Ahmad said.

Having been a part of two undefeated cross country squads, young athletes in the program are already inclined to look up to Ahmad as someone to admire. Yet, despite the success, most of his teammates assert that it is his work ethic which is most commendable.

“He gets underclassmen to work hard so they can try to emulate his success,” Ben Seiple ’18 said.

After entertaining a number of Division I offers, Ahmad has committed to the University of Pennsylvania for next season.

“They have a great team atmosphere… and a team that has been competing really well on the national level,” he cited as the reason for committing.

As to whether he can make it at the next level, Sebastian Wick ’17 is confident in his fellow-senior’s running prowess.

“He has the talent and the skill,” Wick said. “He definitely has what it takes to be elite.”

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