2006-11-03 / Sports

Seahorses Run To PSAL Cross Country Championships

By Elio Velez

Far Rockaway's Cross Country Program was dormant in 2004 and the hope that Eric Stein had in taking was over was to build a credible and hard working program one day.

Once Stein had recruited a number of players to work with, he got to work and three short years later, Far Rockaway tasted the biggest success so far in the 2006 Cross Country Season.

At Cunningham Park on October 27, the Seahorses had six of seven runners complete their best personal times in the Queens Cross Country Borough Championships. As a team, they finished in the top six out of 15 Queens schools to qualify for the PSAL City Championships.

It's big feat for Far Rockaway to advance to the city championships as they tag along with established Queens cross country schools to Van Cortland Park on November 11 starting at 1 p.m.

Far Rockaway finished in fourth place behind Francis Lewis, Townsend Harris and Newtown, who finished first to third respectively. Grover Cleveland and William Bryant also advanced.

With a roster that includes no seniors and five freshmen competing, the Seahorses have done quite well for themselves.

Stein says the playoff qualification is an achievement that his players deserved after their hard work.

"It feels fantastic. It's been incredible. In only two years, we made it to the city championship. We did so well," Stein said.

With 15 teams vying for only six spots to gain entry to the city championships, Stein knew that his squad had to attain personal best running times to have a chance. He has seen improvement all season but in striving for this opportunity, Stein joked that he gave a Knute Rockne speech to inspire the troops.

"I told them that they have to perform well today. I said that we trained the right way, ran through the summer and during the rain and we practiced harder than the other teams," Stein said.

The speech galvanized the troops and Ahmad Sharhan was one who was inspired. Though he didn't finish in first place in the boys 5K Varsity race- that was accomplished by Newtown's acclaimed runner Alex Medina- Sharhan claimed third with a time of 17:21.70.

Sharhan's cousin, Abdulha Saleh finished 13th out of 108 runners to compete and along with freshman Teodulo Celaya who finished 40th, the Seahorses were successful enough to compete for one more week.

It'll be a tall task for Far Rockaway as top schools like nationally ranked Curtis, Midwood and others suit up to race at Van Cortland Park next Saturday. Stein does not want to put any pressure on them to win medals. What he wanted this season was to achieve a playoff spot and get his players valuable experience.

This Saturday, Stein will enter his young underclassmen into the PSAL freshman/sophomore championship before moving to the final event in the public school cross country calendar.

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