Feature Sports Team: Malvern Prep Varsity Cross Country

After an injury-ridden start to the cross country season, the team, coached by a physics guru and recent Malvern alum, was able to finish strong with impressive accolades across the board.


Photo: R. Colameco

Ben Franzone, Managing Editor

Malvern’s Varsity Cross Country team has been consistent in their dominant success over the past number of years, while this year had its challenges and setbacks, the team rallied together for yet another successful season.

“We have a pretty high standard, we won a lot of titles in cross country over the years, which has been very fortunate. But this year, we were dealing with a lot of bad luck, we had a lot of injuries and sickness throughout the year. So we had a lot of guys with injuries that prevented them from training to their fullest potential,” head Cross Country coach, Mr. Mike Koenig said.

Koenig, who has been at Malvern for 20 years, has been the head coach since his arrival to Malvern. Koenig is also the head coach for both indoor and outdoor track and field as well as being the registrar and Physics instructor on campus. 

Photo: R. Colameco

The team ended up finishing second in the Inter-Ac, followed by an impressive third place in the state. 

“Most of the top runners were juniors and sophomores and freshmen. We had three seniors on the team: Sumant, Cole [Cherian], and Kieran Sims, two of the three of them got injured. And Sumant was battling some pain. So really, all three of them were injured at that point,” Koenig said.

The four captains for the season were two seniors: Sumant Sharma and Kieran Sims and two juniors: Carson Myers and Jake Marrone. 

Marrone and Myers joined the cross country team when they were freshmen. Both guys played lacrosse in the spring and hoped that running cross country in the fall would help condition them for the start of the lacrosse season. 

“I’ve been involved in lacrosse since sixth grade but coming into freshman year, I thought I’d try a new sport because I didn’t have a fall sport,” Marrone said. 

While Myers said “I started running in eighth grade and then was just looking for something to stay in shape for lacrosse season,” Myers said. 

After joining the team, Marrone decided to no longer play lacrosse, opting rather to run all year round. Fellow captain, Sumant Sharma made a special note of Marrone’s achievements this past season and the mentality that he brings to the team. 

“One thing that made this [season] extra special was Jake Marrone’s performance. He came into the season thinking he’d be our number two runner, but had a breakout performance and never lost his momentum. It was awesome watching him race and he’d always be hyping up the team. He was a dawg in the truest sense of the word,” Sharma said. 

Sharma, who started doing cross country when he was in middle school, never had any long-distance running experience up until that point, however, he has since come to truly love the sport and the team he is a part of. 

Photo: R. Colameco

“My favorite part of the sport itself is that it’s always me versus myself. A lot of cross country is actually just up in your head and you can feel whether or not you are pushing yourself with every single step. For a JV runner like me, there’s no cool medal or award I receive, but instead, my satisfaction is entirely dependent on the effort I put in,” he said. 

Having done cross country for a number of years now, Sharma was particularly excited to take on the role of captain this year and be a vocal and visible leader for his team.

“This past season was amazing. Being pretty much the most senior member on the team it was cool to have a chance to be a captain like I’d seen some guys do before,” Sharma said.  

Marrone and Myers both agreed that it was a special opportunity to be a captain this year and noted how previous cross country captains helped them prepare for their new roles. 

“[Being a Cross Country captain] was a great feeling. I took a lot from the captains that I had when I was a freshman and I tried to use that, looking at the freshmen now and pushing them to get better and overall just being nice and being there for them, whether it’s on the course or during school when I see them,” Marrone said

Photo: R. Colameco

Myers offered a similar sentiment about being a Cross Country captain for the season. 

“I think everyone who was a captain, including myself, took on a leadership role from the beginning, just encouraging the guys, at the beginning of the season getting everyone to know each other, trying to create some team chemistry, and getting everyone acclimated to the sport,” he said.

While Myers felt that the hardcore running is not his favorite, what keeps him going is all of his teammates working together. 

“The team is awesome. there’s no egos on the team, everyone’s just a bunch of good guys, and the fact that we’re all going through Koenig’s workouts together, struggling, going through the pain together, brings us a lot closer,” Myers said.

Cross Country can be challenging for athletes both physically and mentally, but Myers’ favorite part of the sport is the feeling of satisfaction when he crosses the finish line. 

“The best thing about running is that… It’s so rewarding. When you come across the finish line or finish a workout, just knowing that you just did that no matter how fast you come in. I think going along with that, everyone’s always hyping each other up and really supporting everybody when you finish,” he said.

This season, the team was joined by a familiar face. In need of an assistant coach at the beginning of the season, Koenig offered the position to current Malvern alum John Giordano ‘20, who was a member of the Cross Country team when he attended Malvern.

Photo: R. Colameco

“I was at one of the practices before school started and Mr. Koenig mentioned that [the team] didn’t have an assistant coach and that if I was interested I could do it and I definitely wanted to,” Giordano said.

Having been a captain during his senior year, Giordano looked forward to catching up with some of his former teammates, this time as their assistant coach. 

“All of the upperclassmen now were freshman and sophomores when I was at Malvern so it was always fun being with them and now being able to coach them has given me a new perspective,” he said. “It was really cool to see how they all have grown as athletes and as guys at Malvern and seeing how they all grew into their personalities.”

Marrone and the other captains were very excited to have him back and enjoyed having him there every day.  

“It was amazing. He was the captain my freshman year for winter track too, so I was very close to him. It’s really cool seeing him come back and it’s a great impact that he has, especially being just two years older.”

Now that this season has come to a close, Sharma is already excited for the team’s future and can’t wait to see what they do next.

“Next year we’ve got some head hunting to do. I expect we’ll do better, bEAt, and take 1st or 2nd in states. Carson won’t be injured, Jake will be Jake, the rest of varsity got faster this season and our all-star freshman, Rylan [Arata], will be absolutely insane after summer training. We also had an eighth-grader, Alex [de Vries] race with us towards the end of the season and he is literally built different. I can’t wait to see what these dawgs get up to next season,” Sharma said.