Behind MVXC’s Success

How family, focus and grit drive MVXC

Rucha Soman

For the past nine years, MVXC has been qualifying for the Central Coast Section Championship (CCS). Coach Kirk Flatow attributes the success to the kind of kids MV has. He believes that running comes from sustained long term hard effort, something he sees in MV students. Although the team trains hard physically, other factors contribute to their success as well. 

MVHS athletic director Nick Bonacorsi believes the XC team’s hard work and willingness to put in the effort, both in and out of season, isn’t the only thing that plays into their victories.

“They’ve done a great job of creating this tight knit community, almost like a family type vibe, which helps bring in underclassman and helps develop their culture and make it something that people want to be a part of,” Bonacorsi said.

Junior Rohun Agrawal agrees with Bonacorsi. He believes that the culture this program has built over the years has sustained the hard working spirit.

“I think it has to do with the community because everyone’s very supportive of each other,” Agrawal said. “Everyone’s constantly working hard and that motivates everyone else to work harder.”

According to Johnson, the coaching duo has made it clear that running isn’t easy, sharpening the focus of the team. In Johnson’s first year, she cut out any distracting traditions like workouts that weren’t a good use of the runners’ time and implemented a five absences rule. 

“There were a lot of people that were just showing up, and they wanted to run but more of as a run club. They didn’t want to show up consecutively or consistently,” Johnson said. “The first things we did [were] we got rid of the people who were there part time.”

According to Flatow, currently the MVXC program is filled with runners who want to run competitively because students choose to join the program. 

“We face kids and say, ‘You don’t have to be here. Go find something you want to be at. This is your free time, this is after school, go pick something you want to do,’” Flatow said. “And if it’s this, you got 60, 80, 100 kids a year that want to work hard and want to be better.”

In terms of effort, Johnson enforces how she and Flatow have created a program where competition is important to everyone, not just the runners at the top of the league. According to Agrawal, the consistent support from the coaches and the rest of the team motivates MVXC as a whole.

“I think because [Coach Johnson and Flatow are] very inclusive of everyone, it really helps everyone participate in it and I think that helps everyone as a whole to do better in an individual sense,” Agrawal said. 

Senior Triya Roy finds comfort in Flatow’s coaching because she feels he’s like a secondary father figure to her and some of her teammates. She appreciates his technical coaching but also how he puts an emphasis on long term effects of training.

“A lot of these teams, what they do is they train their kids so hard that they get injured and then they might not like running or continue to do it life long,” Roy said. “But Coach nurtures us so that we continue running. His ultimate goal is to make us life long runners, so we stay in love with the sport, even if that means not getting immediate results and having a slow build up.”

Although support motivates the runners, Flatow also believes that there is a certain type of personality trait that pushes people to take on a challenge, similar to the academic challenges many MVHS students take on.

“I think people like that, people who are willing to say yes, I want to become fluent in a language, I want to challenge myself and take the hardest science classes and the hardest math classes and I want to see myself get better, I think those same people are going to really find a home in distance running,” Flatow said. “Because distance running, you just have to work at it day after day, month after month after month.”

Roy agrees with Flatow; she believes that because runners are constantly physically pushing themselves to run faster, they’ll have the same mentality when it comes to MVHS’s academic culture.

“No one’s really satisfied,” Roy said. “You always want to improve yourself just a tad bit more and push yourself just a bit harder, even if you have a fantastic race, you feel like ‘ugh, I should have pushed myself a little bit more in this one section,’ and maybe that translates into the classroom as well.”