The 2003 boys cross country team, which will be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame during Homecoming and Reunion on Oct. 19, was a motley crew of student athletes whose competitive drive and camaraderie led them to earn the school’s first cross country banner in more than 15 years.
“All of our guys, from our first down to our last, knew the role they had to play to win a title. And everyone took it deadly seriously,” said co-captain David Magida ’04, who won the individual title that year at the MAC Championship. “Each man on the team out-performed expectations, not just beating their targets, but displacing others and allowing us to squeeze out victory by just two points. One change in place and we would have lost that lead.”
Students who ran for the cross country team ranged from elite runners like Magida to former soccer players and banner-winning lacrosse players. Coaches David Brandt and Mike Davila said this diversity strengthened the team and made a difference at the MAC Championship meet.
“It was neat to have that synergy, that cross-current of athletic backgrounds, but they were all competitors and made the most of a very hot day,” Davila said.
“We’ve had a tradition of success, in large part because it was built around that 2003 team – they saw what could be done,” Brandt added.
The team finished 17-4 against MAC competition, clinching big wins at the Glenelg Invite, where they outpaced Georgetown Day School and Maret, and at the Baltimore-Washington Independent School Championship, where they beat GDS, Maret, Sidwell Friends and Potomac School.
Chris Domone ’05, who joined the team after playing soccer for St. Andrew’s, recalled running statistics and leaderboard team meetings throughout the cross country season that reinforced the balance between serious competition and the joy of running.
“We were a Bad News Bears team with lots of new runners, but when we broke down our times and injected just enough fun and crazy into it, we realized we could win,” Domone said.
Tim Platt ’06 was not a top seven varsity runner, but he remembered practicing with the varsity runners and receiving handshakes from upperclassmen that affirmed his effort after a long run.
“I just remember that season a lot of people cared a lot, and the coaches cared a lot, and it was just fun to be a part of that,” Platt said.
At the MAC Championship, which took place Nov. 2, 2003 at Flint Hill School, the Lions edged out GDS by two points, thanks to strong performances by Magida, Mike Bryan ’05, who took sixth place overall, Chris Heywood ’05, Charlie Pfeifer ‘05, David Weisshaar ‘06, Domone and Evan Ellsworth ’04.
Ellsworth, a wrestler who also played on the 2002 MAC Championship lacrosse team, was recruited to run cross country during his senior year by Magida, his wrestling teammate. The MAC Championship was the hardest race he ran that season, and Ellsworth said he remembered sensing that they had a shot at the banner when he saw Magida waiting for him with a high five at the finish line.
“When I look back on high school and the sports I was involved in - lacrosse, wrestling, cross country - I look back the most fondly on this cross country season,” Ellsworth said. “I stepped out of my comfort zone to do something I hadn’t planned on. The camaraderie was great and the experience was new and exciting and fun. To win a championship as part of the varsity team that same year, it’s something I’ve always looked back on and said, ‘I’m glad I did that.’”
The Hall of Fame Induction will take place at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 19 during the Reunion Celebration Brunch in the Student Center Dance Studio. This year’s inductees include the 2003-2004 varsity boys cross country team, the 2003-2004 varsity boys soccer team, and student athlete Alex Azzara ’07.