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No offseason for JRMS runners

  • Jaffrey-Rindge middle schoolers take part in a summer running camp led by coach Kevin McCusker and Conant star Isabella Mormando. Pictured are Isabella Mormando, left, Nev Mormando, Alleigh Lapinsky and Iris Hill. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Jaffrey-Rindge middle schoolers Kylie Aho, left, and Amarah Lapinsky run at FPU as coach Kevin McCusker trails. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Jaffrey-Rindge middle schooler take part in a summer running camp led by coach Kevin McCusker and Conant star Isabella Mormando. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Jaffrey-Rindge middle schooler take part in a summer running camp led by coach Kevin McCusker and Conant star Isabella Mormando. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Jaffrey-Rindge middle schooler take part in a summer running camp led by coach Kevin McCusker and Conant star Isabella Mormando. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, August 23, 2018 12:5PM

The burgeoning Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School cross-country team is putting in a year-round effort into improvement. This summer, their hard work is manifested in an offseason running camp to keep the kids in action and prepare them for the fall season.

“The season’s so short, and then you come in at the end of August and some of them are just running their first mile in three months,” said JRMS head coach Kevin McCusker. “The idea is if they can get running this summer and come in in decent shape, we can go from our tenth-place finish last year, which was great, to potentially a top five.”

McCusker teamed up with Conant senior runner Isabella Mormando to offer the camp, which has seen a least a dozen come out for training several times a week at Franklin Pierce University’s bubble and road races around the region.

“I like seeing how important running has become to kids in Jaffrey-Rindge, so I thought I would do what I could to help reinforce the popularity of the sport,” Mormando said. “Since they’re going to be in high school soon, I thought it would be good to put into their brains that summer running is helpful, it prevents injury and helps you have a better season.”

Mormando, who’s easing back into running after bouts of mono and Lyme disease stole much of her junior year, remembers her days on the then-tiny JRMS team.

“One year, I had to go to states alone,” she said.

Now, membership has ballooned — McCusker had 50 on the spring track team and expects good numbers at tryouts Aug. 30.

“I look at what Mike Smith’s doing at Boynton — how do you do it year after year?” McCusker said. “I think part of it is if the kids enjoy themselves and have some success, other kids hear about it and want to be part of it. And I think that’s happening already.”

Success has been ever-present this summer, as the JRMS team has ventured out of the training gym and onto the trail to participate in several local 5K races. Amarah Lipinsky, for one, has seen much improvement, winning her age bracket at Rindge’s Le Tour de Common.

“I can feel the improvement,” Lipinsky said. “It feels really great, I like knowing I’m faster than I was before. I just want to get faster.”

Last year, McCusker asked his kids to try and run at least 40 miles for the summer, with limited success. This year, Lipinsky had already run 44 miles by midsummer, and several others are expected to eclipse that mark along with her.

Kylie Aho, one of McCusker’s “Power Pack” of 8th-graders, said she needs the competition and companionship of running in a group, which the summer running club is fulfilling.

“I just can’t find enough from inside of me to go out and run by myself without my team being there,” Aho said. “I just like to run next to people.”

While others are out to improve their 5K times or ready themselves for the season, Aho said she’s running against another opponent: television.

“I just don’t want to turn fat,” Aho said. “I like Netflix, I got a TV in my room, so it doesn’t work if I don’t run.”