The Greyducks Take Flight Again

This season, the girls’ cross country team won the PSAL City Championship, but not without overcoming hardships and training restlessly for their competitions.

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By The Photo Department

As the sun set at the girls’ cross country PSAL City Championships, the Greyducks, Stuyvesant’s girls’ cross country team, were still winded from their race. With cellphones in hand, they eagerly refreshed the team scores from the meet. For the varsity race, the first-place position had alternated between Bronx Science and Stuyvesant multiple times throughout the day. As the final score came in, the Greyducks were under their tent, shielded from the sunny 70-degree weather. They’d done it: both the junior varsity and varsity teams were victorious, placing first in their respective competitions. Instantly, celebration erupted from the team—everyone knew that the win was deserved after a successful but turbulent season.

Heading into the season, the Greyducks set ambitious goals for themselves, aiming to place in the top three at the Frosh/Soph City Championship and win both the JV City Championship and City Championship. Not only were they able to achieve all of these goals, but they also ended their extended season on a high note. Two freshmen, two sophomores, one junior, and one senior represented the school at the New York State Federation Championships, and most of them were able to complete their season bests at the meet. These victories were the crowning achievements of a hard-fought season, as the team faced many struggles on their path to victory.

In order to understand how the Greyducks went from disappointed to dominant, one must look back at their journey for gold.

Coming from a transition year after the pandemic, the Greyducks worked hard to get back on track after the 2021 season. During that season, they won the Manhattan Borough Championships in October, but fell short at City’s the following month, placing second under Brooklyn Tech. Additionally, many obstacles were thrust onto their path during the 2022 season. “One of our top returning runners couldn't make the commitment to her teammates this fall and was removed from the team. One of our top sophomores got injured and had to end her season early,” coach Carl DiSarno said. But the girls were able to overcome these challenges by sticking together and enduring many days of strenuous practice, pushing themselves past their comfort zone.

With their hard work, the Greyducks slowly began to soar. They thrived throughout this season, showing promise in both their varsity and junior varsity victories at the Manhattan Borough Championships. The win didn’t come easily though, as each of the Greyducks had to run their hearts out to defeat Hunter College High School. However, this hard-won victory by a point was only a preview of what was to come at the City Championships.

All eyes were turned to Van Cortlandt Park on November 5 as the Greyducks prepared to take to the course and claim their title as City Champions. Both the varsity and junior varsity runners had to battle exhaustion and dehydration as they ran the strenuous 5000-meter distance in the sweltering heat. Among them was the Greyducks’ own senior Isabella (Bella) Stenhouse. Even after coming back from time off early in the season, Stenhouse was able to defend her title in the event. Her final time of 20:02.87 was instrumental in the team’s victory at City’s, defeating reigning champion Brooklyn Tech. The junior varsity team was also triumphant that day, beating Bronx Science by a large margin of 42 points. “It was fantastic; it was the first time in cross country history that the girls’ cross country team has won City Championships for both varsity and junior varsity,” senior and co-captain Anna Kathawala said.

While seniors Pimada Phongsuriya and Bella Stenhouse played a key role in their success at City’s, it was their second pack of five that helped bring the team to victory with their toughness on the hills of Van Cortlandt Park. The pack included junior Caroline Hon, sophomores Skye McArthur and Honora Muratori, and freshmen Emma Savonije and Jiya Patel. Out of those five, the four underclassmen were competing in their first cross country season. These four runners quickly adapted to the flow of the team, shown through their drastic improvements in times from the start to the end of the season. As the City Champions, the Greyducks were able to qualify for the State Championships, where they performed well and achieved many personal bests, ending their season with success.

As a reward for their monumental victory, DiSarno allowed the girls to dye his hair in the color of their choice. The result: DiSarno attended a family function with vibrant pink tips and an American flag wrapping his buzz cut.

With the indoor track season starting in the winter, the Greyducks emerge dominant as they wrap up an incredible cross country season. The future is not fully set for the Greyducks as they look toward success in the next campaign. The best runners on the team, Stenhouse and Phongsuriya, will be graduating this year. The team will have to cope with the loss of these great talents but are hopeful in the potential of present and future team members to continue to carry the torch. “Our goal will be what it always is: to win the City Championship,” said DiSarno, who was asked what the team’s goals were for next season.