With Junior Scully Emerging as Frontrunner, Hun Boys’ Cross Country Making Progress
By Justin Feil
Eric Scully is motivated to become one of the best runners in Hun School history, and he’s well on his way.
The junior, who is in his second year at the school and first cross country season, was the top finisher for the Raiders at the New Balance Shore Coaches Invitational last Saturday at Holmdel Park. He covered the challenging 5,000-meter course in 17:35 to place sixth in the Boys Varsity G race.
“Going into it, I was scared of the hills at Holmdel,” said Scully, who had run 18:42 at the storied lay-out as a freshman.
“I haven’t run it since freshman year. Going into it I was thinking I was going to burn out early and then I was going to get outkicked at the line because the last three meets that I did, I was outkicked in the last 400 so I did not want that to happen. So I took it out slower. That ended up hurting my time a little bit, but I ended up kicking at the line which was a very big success for me. I have not been able to kick all season so to have a really big kick at the end of a race gives me a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season.”
Scully has kicked off the second half of his season on a promising note. He has been looking to lower his times after missing out on the chance to run last year. After transferring from Steinert High after his freshman year, Scully did not get a sophomore cross country season while coming back from iron deficiency anemia. Missing that season helped make him hungrier for this year and his first chance to help the Raiders team.
“He has a huge upside,” said Hun head coach Kurt Wayton, whose squad placed third of 24 schools in the Boys Varsity G team standings at the Shore Coaches meet.
“I think he’s going to make a big impact at Mercer Counties and preps and MAPLs (Mid-Atlantic Prep League). This is another opportunity to learn and progress. I think he’s going to do some real damage down the stretch.”
Starting his comeback at the end of last fall, Scully has kept up his training and moved to the front of the pack for Hun. He has been able to return to top form after last fall’s setback.
“It was right around September of my sophomore year when I got blood-tested and they figured out I had anemia,” said Scully.
“I had to take a month off from running and I came back to running in the beginning of November. Coach Wayton really helped me out with this. He gave me what foods to eat, how to keep my fitness — he’s been really helpful with that. I’ve pretty much stayed injury free and haven’t had a long-term injury since sophomore year which has made me the runner I am today.”
Scully showed some of his promise in the winter last year and the spring further helped his growth when he competed in track. Every time he ran was another opportunity to set up this year.
“We did not have an indoor season,” said Scully. “It was basically just four months of training with the team. I did do a 5K time trial over the winter and ended up running 16:33 and that was in December. That gave me a lot of confidence. I knew I was getting in shape and recovering from having anemia in the fall and then three months after, spring track started. I ended up running some great PRs — 4:31 in the mile and 10:05 for the two-mile. Training over the winter helped a lot.”
It also helped the remainder of the Hun team, which is showing it can contend in the league and prep championships. Last Saturday, junior James McDonald was 21st in 18:10, senior Xavier Silverio ran in 18:51 for 37th, freshman Jonny Francis placed 57th in 19:22, and junior Simon Gregoire rounded out their scoring five in 58th place in 19:23. Junior Wolfgang Trier was just behind in 61st and sophomore Ridge Peabody took 85th.
“This is my 22nd year doing this, and this is probably the most enjoyable group of people I’ve had to work with,” said Wayton.
“They’re funny. They’re motivated, they work hard. It’s a remarkable group of young people. There are some years I dread practice. I’m driving with the music blaring excited to get there. We might win a championship. We might not. It has been a wonderful experience for all the boys and girls on the team.”
The girls did not score as a complete team due to SAT testing commitments and injury, but they had three finishers. Olivia Bergenholtz ran 23:46 for 66th in the Varsity F Division, Leila Lopez was 140h, and Morgan Silletti was 148th.
“We couldn’t have a better six girls than the ones we have,” said Wayton.
“They’re positive, funny, motivated. They’re generally good people. That’s what you build a program around. Our kids are phenomenal, beautiful people that are going to attract some more people. Once you put some miles under their belts they can have some success.”
Scully, for his part, likes the way that the team has been working all year. He has been encouraged by the development that he has seen in the squad.
“My first full season with them was outdoor and I saw their progression through outdoor,” said Scully.
“That gave me a lot of confidence going into cross country. Cross country is more of a team sport than outdoor. I saw the way they were progressing in outdoor and just knew if they were to train the way that they were in outdoor that would translate into cross country.”
In emerging as Hun’s top runner this year, Scully has been working toward hitting his potential, putting in arduous workouts that challenge him to gain even more fitness.
“In the distance workouts, in the mile and two-mile repeats I have struggled just a bit on them, but in the shorter interval workouts, maybe 400s or 800s, I have been very, very strong in those,” said Scully.
“That has given me confidence going into the season. In the beginning of the year I wasn’t really hitting my goal paces for my workouts that I wanted, but now I have been and it’s given me a lot of confidence going into the season.”
The Raiders have seen the rewards of their year-long work. The team is coming together toward a common goal of finishing as high as possible in the year-end major meets to come.
“We’ve been doing well in the meets where there has been a team score,” said Scully.
“I saw their training in the beginning of the year until now and there’s been a very big jump. They’re more motivated. All the meets we’ve been to, the idea of winning MAPLs and winning states going through their minds has been even greater and it’s been awesome.”
Being injury free since last fall has given Scully the chance to train and the confidence that he can improve. He ran a personal-best 16:22 at the Jerry Hart Invitational on Sept. 25 as Hun finished third behind Princeton High and The Peddie School. The early results and progress have lifted the team’s title hopes.
“I am feeling very confident about it,” said Scully. “We’re all very dedicated. We’re very close knit. If we work together I know we can go far this season.”
Scully’s personal ambitions remain high. Hun would love to see him contend for titles at the Mercer County, league, and state levels. His focus remains on those lofty aspirations.
“That is the big goal and that’s what I’m training for,” said Scully. “Time-wise, I really want to break 16 minutes in a 5K. I started off freshman year running close to 18:00. Sophomore year I didn’t have a season but I did a time trial at 16:30 so now going under 16:00, I feel that progression is really good. The biggest thing is just to get under 16:00.”
Hun will host Pennington on October 6 and then Blair visits on October 9. The meets give Hun two more chances to compete and grow as they take aim at preparing for the biggest meets of the season.
“I feel really good about it,” said Wayton. “Our kids are really gutsy. They attack every day with intensity and purpose. I feel like if we put together the next month as they put together the last month, we’ll be in a position to be up there and be very competitive in Preps and MAPLs and I would not rule out a top five finish at counties.”