Stuy XC: One Hill of a Sport

Meet Stuyvesant’s very own cross country duo, Hugo Jenkins and Vernon Hughes.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Cover Image
By The Photo Department

Name: Hugo Jenkins

Grade: Senior

Height: 5’10”

Hair Color: Blonde

Eye Color: Blue

Date of Birth: April 11, 2005

Name: Vernon Hughes

Grade: Senior

Height: 5’10”

Hair Color: Brown

Eye Color: Blue

Date of Birth: March 23, 2005

What inspired you to start running at Stuyvesant?

H: I started running because I wanted to get in shape to try out for the lacrosse team. But I ended up enjoying running, so I decided not to switch and stayed on the cross country and track teams.

V: I actually tried for the soccer team first, but I didn’t make it on, so I was going to use cross country to be more ready for the soccer team the following year, but I decided to stick with running.

What races do you run, and what skills/strengths are involved?

H: In cross country, we run 5ks, and in track, we run the two mile, the 3200-meter, the 1600-meter, and the 800-meter.

V: The main thing is fitness, and that is something we improve by running every day. We also focus on our strength by building up our core and fixing our form and posture. These little fixes can make all the difference in a race. Mental strength is also a huge aspect we work on and can make everyone a better runner.

Do you have a most memorable/proud moment with the ​​Greyducks?

H: Definitely when we went to states for cross country this year. It was a very tough season, and we had many unfortunate races that went very badly, but in the end, we were still able to qualify. Even after we qualified, we didn’t even think we were going, because at first, PSAL schools’ spots were pulled, but they were given back.

V: Going to states is something that we wanted to do since freshman year, so we were so happy to be able to go. None of us were feeling that good leading up to the meet, since we only had three races leading up to states due to COVID, but everyone raced extremely well.

What is your strategy for constantly improving yourself (specific workouts, exercises, mentality, etc.)?

H: Consistency with running is definitely the main thing, but we also try to hit a variety of things in practice based on the workouts our coach gives us. We work on hill sprints so we are able to cover the hills in races, because the uphills are where people lose the most time.

V: We also run tempos to work on our endurance, as well as run shorter sprints and repeat intervals to get our heartbeat really high at one moment and work through lactic acid buildup. Other small things we do in addition to our main mileage are core workouts and strides after runs, which are short, not full, sprints 60-80 meters, where we focus on our form.

How has being a captain changed your outlook on cross country?

H: Before I realized that we would be captains and leading the team, I had focused more on my own training and just let other people do their own thing. But now, I am going to be more focused on making sure everyone is doing well, making sure there are no issues, and giving advice to the underclassmen.

V: Being a captain to me means really trying to oversee the personal growth of other individuals and helping them experience their own moments where they can really grow. Most of the guys don’t have prior experience running before joining the team, so just giving tips on the small things to get better is important. Also, running is a simple sport, so really if you run enough miles, you will run faster, so I want to push everyone to run as much as they can.

Do you have any plans to continue running in the future or in college?

H: I really like running as just a way of staying in shape. When I run, I feel healthy, and my mentality overall is better. My mind is clear, and I am more focused, so I will definitely keep running for fun, but at this point, I do not think I am going to be running competitively. But when I am older, my goal is to run a marathon, so at some point, I will train towards that.

V: It depends on what school I go to and whether I can walk on the team, because right now, I am not looking to get recruited. But I will definitely keep running no matter what, because it is a great way for me to get away from academics and keep myself fit. I also want to build up to a marathon. Hugo and I have talked about it, and we will look to do it in the future, even if we are not on a competitive team. At the moment, we are in shape to run one, but we need to train more mileage to run it fast enough, because we want to qualify for Boston or other similar marathons.

How do you balance being a three-sport athlete and schoolwork?

H: I found that having to put away a couple of hours after school every day to go run actually helps me handle my academics a lot. When I don’t have practice and just go straight home, I kind of just sit around and don’t end up starting my work until much after I would have started if I did go running. I just spent the whole day at school, and I don’t want to sit down and do more work, so when I run, it separates those times.

V: Having to run after school is both a physical and social break, because I get to talk to people and just unwind after a long day of school. This makes going home and having to do homework easier. So even if I am losing one or two hours because of practices, it doesn’t feel like time is actually being lost.

Do you have any premeet superstitions or rituals?

H: Exactly 40 minutes before our race, as a team, we will go on a light run, go to the bathroom, and just talk and joke around with each other to settle our nerves.

V: I always eat pasta with tomato sauce and grilled chicken the night before a race.

How has playing multiple sports together impacted your relationship?

H: From our hours of talking during running every week, we have gotten very, very close.

Our relationship goes past running, as Vernon is definitely my best friend at school, and we have gone on vacation together.

V: It really boils down to how cross country and track might feel like an individual sport because you have your own times and results, but when we are running and practicing, it is really about working together as a team. We spend so much time talking together about everything, because no one wants to be bored on a run and just look up and down at your watch, so it has really opened up our relationship a lot.

Hugo Jenkins

Funniest Teammate: Hunter Pesin

Favorite Athlete: Jakob Ingebrigtsen

Favorite Sports Drink: Fruit Punch Gatorade

Favorite Post-Meet Snack: Carrot cake and Skinny Pop

Hobbies: Skiing

Motto to Live By: “When your legs can’t run anymore, run with your heart.”

Fun Fact: I have two cats and a dog.

Vernon Hughes

Funniest Teammate: Rico Lau and Andrew Udov

Favorite Athlete: Eliud Kipchoge

Favorite Sports Drink: Lemon-Lime Gatorade

Favorite Post-Meet Snack: Carrot cake

Hobbies: Skiing, watching soccer, and playing the violin

Motto to Live By: “The plan only works if you do.”

Fun Fact: I speak Serbian.