Saturday, November 14, 2015

Liv to Run

I was living to run
And running to live.
- Bob Seger

Here in the State of Concrete Gardens, we are deep into high-school playoff season for the various fall sports in which this state's interscholastic athletes compete.  Football does not crown "State" champions as much as it crowns "Sectional" champions.  Respectfully, high-school football is carved up into so many different sections here in New Jersey that if the company that makes and sells the jackets that a high school football player will invariably purchase if his team wins a championship - any championship - ever goes public, tell your broker that you want to gobble up its stock like Tic Tacs.  Those jackets - and the sectional titles that accompany them - are ubiquitous. 

That is not the case in cross-country.  

Cross-country, both boys and girls, is a sport in New Jersey in which teams compete until there is a single state champion crowned in each of six school-population-based classifications.  Four of the six are public school classifications, ranging from Group I (the smallest) to Group IV (the largest).  The other two are non-public school classifications, which are split up into "B" (the smaller schools) and "A" (the larger schools).    

Today, at Holmdel Park, one dozen State championship races shall be contested, beginning with the Girls Group II race at 10:00 a.m. and wrapping up with the Boys of Group IV doing battle at 3:30 p.m.   While I wish all of the kids running today well, and that they may run swiftly and safely, the only one of the twelve contests in which I have any rooting interest has a 2:30 p.m. gun time. 

At 2:30 this afternoon, Liv DeLorenzo and her Hillsborough High School teammates will defend the Group IV title that a year ago they earned on this very same course.  Defending their title will not be an easy task.  The field is comprised of thirteen teams that are ranked in the Top 20 in the state, eight of whom (including Hillsborough) are Top Ten teams, including the top-ranked, second-ranked, and third-ranked teams.  Talk about the "Group of Death".

I do not pretend to know whether the Raiders shall rule their Group again, as they did last year. Knowing Liv - who once upon a time when she was much younger and not quite as swift afoot (7th grade - her, not me) I used to actually be able to run with, I know that grit and determination are as much a part of her makeup as is her talent. I have little doubt that she and the Raiders shall put forth their best effort this afternoon.  

And it is, after all, their effort over which they can exert control.  One can guarantee one's effort.  One cannot guarantee the result that said effort might attain.  It is that uncertainty that makes sports, and life, so goddamn compelling.  


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