Hard work paying off for Holyoke boys cross country team

Oct. 9, 2012
Holyoke High School cross country runners (from left to right) Tyler Tardy, Guillermo Godreau-Rivera, Matt McAndrew, Abi Acevedo, Rhys Duquette, RJ Landry and Kyle Morton await the start of the Ted Dutkiewiecz Memorial Race in East Longmeadow on Sept. 22.

Reminder Publications submitted photo

By Chris Maza


HOLYOKE – For Holyoke boys cross country team coach Dave Reinhart, a second severe leg injury that will require surgery in three years was not a welcome occurrence, but there could be a silver lining.

"I hurt myself two years ago and we made states that year, so maybe this is an omen," he said with a laugh.

Reinhart's injury, sustained when he slipped on some mud as the team warmed up for its meet against Agawam on Oct. 2, has been one of the few black marks on this season for the Purple Knights, who have continued their string of successful seasons under their fifth-year coach.

For the Holyoke, the formula is simple – hard work and perseverance equal success.

"I think any good team starts out by having the right culture. Winning starts with hard work and those teams have developed a great work ethic and that work ethic has become the standard," Reinhart said. "That's what these young men have learned. Are we going to win every race? Maybe not, but we will always work hard and be prepared."

Reinhart said that the work his runners has put in can be traced back to the end of last season as they continued to push themselves through the offseason in an effort to improve.

"This is not a sport with a lot of days off," he said. "The kids here have bought into the sport and work hard for it and now they are seeing the rewards that come with that. They are really a pleasure to coach."

The Knights are in the midst of an impressive run, going 30-1 in their past 31 races dating back to 2009. The lone blemish on that record was a loss to Westfield in the first competition of this season.

While regular season wins are great, Reinhart said that getting back to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association state championships is the ultimate goal. The top three teams at the Western Massachusetts championships earn the opportunity to compete at the state meet and after qualifying in 2010, the Knights finished a disappointing fifth at the sectional meet in 2011.

"At the risk of putting pressure on the kids, I think we have a good team and the expectations are high. Our expectation is to go to states. We're trying to take advantage of this year and stay in the now," he said. "There are five or six really solid teams, so it's not going to be easy."

However, if the Knights continue to build upon personal successes, such as the surprising emergence of Guillermo Godreau-Rivera, the sky could be the limit.

"He's probably one of the biggest surprises in Western Massachusetts. He barely broke a five minute mile in the spring, which is not necessarily impressive," Reinhart said. "Now he's leap-frogged some of the top runners in Western Massachusetts and he's done so by putting in the miles in the offseason. Now he's challenging [senior] Rhys Duquette, who is a perennial top-10 runner."

In addition to Godreau-Rivera and Duquette, Reinhart specifically pointed to Tyler Landry and Nate Rodriguez as two others whose hard work appears to be paying off.

"Tyler Tardy has improved a lot," Reinhart said. "Nate Rodriguez has been another surprise. He's new to cross country and has only been running for about a month and he's one of our top five runners."

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