October 25, 2017

Sparked by Core of Solid Young Runners, PDS Boys’ Cross Country Making Strides

MAKING STRIDES: Princeton Day School boys’ cross country runner Kevin Dougherty competes at Boys’ Varsity race at the Mercer County Championships at Thompson Park in Jamesburg last Friday. Sophomore Dougherty led the way for PDS, taking 65th individually in a time of 18:16.96 over the 5,000-meter course. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though his Princeton Day School boys’ cross country team finished 16th of 19 teams in the Boys’ Varsity race at the Mercer County Championships last Friday, John Woodside was all smiles afterward.

“I have to say that our team’s performance for the whole year has been tremendous,” said PDS head coach Woodside.

“I am really, really proud of these kids. This group here is completely beyond our level but it is a great experience for us. It is always good to go against better competition; that will improve us in the long run.”

Sophomore Kevin Dougherty has shown great improvement this fall for PDS, continuing his progress by taking 65th individually at the county meet, clocking a time of 18:16.96 over the 5,000-meter course.

“We have seen him go from a fledgling freshman last year to a No. 1 runner,” said Woodside.

“It has really solidified the front of our pack and it has been tremendous for the team.”

The addition of freshman Gunnar Clingman has also solidified things for the Panthers.

“Gunnar came over from Hopewell and having him has really helped our team a lot,” added Woodside of Clingman, who placed 92nd at the counties in a time of 19:09.15.

“Last week, we had a great day where Kevin and Gunnar were one second apart, they ran 17:44 and 17:45.”

Woodside is hoping that his squad has a great day when it competes in the state Prep B meet on October 25 at Blair Academy.

“Wednesday is our whole season; Montclair Kimberley Academy looks like they are the best team and Newark Academy is certainly better than us but after that, it looks like we could take third,” said Woodside.

“We have to beat Pennington, we have to beat Rutgers Prep, and we have to beat whoever else is there. We said in preseason that we want to move up and finish on the podium. If we get third, then we do that. The goal is to be more competitive next week, and less time based.”

No matter what happens at the Prep B competition, PDS is headed in the right direction.

“We have taken a big step up in the last two years since I took over,” said Woodside, who previously coached boys’ cross country and track at Princeton High.

“We have been building and I know it is going to continue because we have a lot of good young talent. We have a freshman class of six or seven kids this year. We have two great sophomores, we have a couple of juniors, and we have a good freshman class coming in next year.”