At Boston Public Schools, coach Hatim Jean-Louis has presided over the steady growth of the city’s cross country team

Jean-Louis, a former state champion in the Randolph 600 meters (class of 1996), created the city-wide team in 2015 after nearly a decade of dormant off-road as a BPS sport. He started out with a disorganized team of six players and has since grown to 40 years old. Most of the list came from Latin Academy and O’Bryant, but students from Fenway, Madison Park, New Mission and East Boston also joined the ranks.

“I think I’m inspired by everyone on this team because it’s unlikely that this group of people will come together.”

Max Barcan, a senior at Latin Academy, recounts the growth of Boston’s citywide cross country team from six in 2015 to a team of 40.

“There is no culture here,” Jean-Louis said. “We as Bostonians, the only time kids in the city see running – they might hear it [Boston] Marathon, but we don’t run [cross-country] Gentlemen of Boston Public Schools. I was inspired; starting in 2015, I was driven to build the culture step by step. What you are seeing now is the result of hard work in 2015. “

The group meets at multiple locations and will run downtown, along the water or in Franklin Park. The fact that six schools are currently involved is a welcome sign of progress. This also means that, for the three different school closing times, practice does not usually begin until close to 5:00, when most schools have completed their final cooling-off period.

Since 2015, coach Hatim Jean-Louis has worked with his runners on the Boston citywide cross country team to help them improve, which has led to the expansion of the program from an initial group of six to 40 runners.Jonathan Wiggs/Universal Staff

“I think it’s just about commitment,” senior O’Bryant said Sam Gordon, the program’s top boys runner-up. “I think all of us are more engaged than a typical team – just for sports and training – just because we have to come from a lot of different schools and different places and we all come together.”

The runners proved that Jean-Louis’ unparalleled energy, diverted in his glowing pep talk and “Word of the Day,” helped him guide his runners to compete with the best in the state. He’ll admit that when he started, the men’s team finished last in the 2015 state conference, he developed self-doubt about his coaching abilities, believing championships and honors were the only measure of success.

In the seven years since, “Coach H” has learned that personal and project development can replace any trophy. Bakan joined the boys’ team as a “very slow” eighth grader from Latin Academy, with Jean-Louis running by his side throughout his first season learning how to run distance. Now, he’s a veteran captain and an integral part of a team that hopes to go statewide as a team for the first time ever.

“I think I’m inspired by everyone on this team because it’s unlikely that this group of people will come together,” Bacan said.

Latin College senior Max Barkan said he was “inspired by everyone on this team” as the team’s roster drew entrants from schools in six different cities.Jonathan Wiggs/Universal Staff

Maya Porumba, a junior from Latin College, joined as a freshman with zero running experience. She ran a 5K in 25:32 at the 2021 Frank Kelly Invitational; in a year’s time, she shaved four and a half minutes off the same race last Saturday and clocked in at 21:00.

“I spend most of my time learning how to play because when you have to track down other opponents, that’s actually a big part of the mentality,” Poremba said. “It’s not as simple as running because running is not usually seen as very skill-based. But I definitely learned skills, [like] How to play and so on. “

Poremba leads Latin Academy’s eight-girl roster Neff Flynn, the fastest freshman on the spring circuit Globe All-Scholastic and Frank Kelley (20:07.8). Flynn may be the show’s brightest young star, but she’s also already a captain and has helped lead a group of inexperienced girls and Porumba.

“If we want them to be successful, we want the women’s team to be successful, we need to make them work hard, and I think they’re enjoying themselves so far,” Flynn said. “You just need encouragement, because obviously a lot of people know what it’s like to begin with.”

Jean-Louis recognizes the additional hurdle his runners face. But for him, it was an opportunity to show a group of youngsters that the challenges – whether competing for time, high positions or obstacles off the track – were insurmountable.

“I don’t want to whitewash: You’re a city kid, man,” he said. “The world is tough. It’s another way for me to show the younger generation how to conquer the world.”

Keep pace

▪ Cambridge sophomore Ofie Shovlin A breakthrough performance at the Kelly Invitational.Shovlin is almost in line with the eventual winner Camille Jordan Brookline and finished second in 18:22.5.

coach Ian Woodhouse Shovlin will have a big day after a strong spring track season, where she finished eighth in the statewide mile. This success shows what she’s capable of if she commits to the necessary training, which Shovlin did over the summer.

“I think doing well in the statewide outdoor competition might give her a signal, ‘Well, if I really do a little more work on this, I’m going to end up in a pretty good place,'” Woodhouse said. ‘” Woodhouse said.

Despite her runner-up finish at Brookline’s Camille Jordan, Cambridge sophomore Aoife Shovlin submitted a breakthrough performance in 18:22.5 in the Frank Kelley Invitational Women’s Championship 5K.Mark Stockwell for The Boston Globe

Shovlin was part of a strong all-around outing for the Falcons.primary Eliza Dickey Women’s 16th (19:36.4).Cambridge, led by brothers, is fifth in boys’ squad Jacob Brownstein (6th, 15:49.6) and Daniel Brownstein (19th, 16:27.0).

▪ Saturday’s MSTCA Team Challenge brought a change to the schedule for the second year of competition. The school brought teams of 7 to the Wrentham Development Center, with 3 runners completing the 5K “Long Distance”, 2 3K “Midrange” and 2 2K “Sprints”. Scoring uses cumulative time to determine the winner.

stone. John’s Prep, Newton South and Newburyport are at the top of Saturday’s shortlist.

meet and see

Monday, no.Burlington 7 14 Wakefield Boys, 4pm — The top two teams from last year’s Division 2 statewide game went head-to-head in the Middlesex League game.

On Wednesday, Billerica was right. Do not. 5 Lowell right. 6 North Andover at Dracut Boys, 4 p.m.— This Merrimack Valley Conference four-person meeting includes two Division 1 frontrunners and a terrific junior from Billerica’s Ryan Leslie.

Wednesday, no. 8 Billerica vs Lowell right. 11 North Andover at Dracut Girls, 4pm— The same foursomes have given the girls more appeal, with Billerica looking to test himself in the league after a strong showing at the Frank Kelly Invitational last Saturday.

Wednesday, no. 16 Concord-Carlisle 4 Acton-Boxborough Girls, 4pm — The Revolution has a dynamic top four that will be put to the test of long-term strength with the Patriots.

Thursday, Milton yes. Do not. 10 Newton North 12 Weymouth Girls, 4pm – Another high-quality Gulf State Conference showdown featuring two global top 20 teams and an always-competitive Wildcats.

On Thursday, Peabody was No. 1. 18 Marblehead boys, 4 p.m.— The presumptive favorite for the Northeast Conference will face.

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