Joseph Accurso logged a lot of miles during his four years running for the cross-country and track teams at Glastonbury High School.
After his graduation from GHS in June, Accurso traveled nearly 1,400 miles to join his new running team and pursue a degree at Benedictine College in Kansas.
Accurso said a lot of people close to him were surprised when he decided to trade the Northeast for the Midwest, yet he felt a calling to The Sunflower State when he visited the campus twice during his senior year.
“Both occasions I got a good feel for the campus and the atmosphere out there. I immediately loved it,” added Accurso. “I was looking at schools that I could succeed at both academically and athletically. When Benedictine came on to my radar, it was the right opportunity for me.”
So far, so good for the former Guardian, who has picked up right where he left off in Glastonbury — finishing in 9th place during his first collegiate race this fall. Benedictine finished 2nd overall out of the six schools that competed at the University of St. Mary in Leavenworth, KS.
His 26.09 time was second fastest on the team. It was a great debut for someone that spent the last four years running 5ks in high school and was running his first competitive 8k.
Accurso and his new team finished behind only the host school of St. Mary, who are currently ranked 5th overall in the National Associations of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
“It was a really great day for us. It showed us where we were at in the national ranking and I got to see where I was at,” recalled Accurso, who was glad to get his first college race under his belt. “I was nervous, but as soon as the gun goes off you are just running and there are no more nerves. You do what you’ve been training for every day.”
Prior to entering GHS, distance running was not a priority for Accurso. He first joined the cross-country team to stay in shape for track season where he wanted to make his mark as a sprinter. He soon realized that he was more of an aerobic athlete than an anaerobic athlete, trading in his running spikes for trail runners.
During last fall’s cross-country season, GHS head coach Mark Alexander said that he could see Accurso’s drive from his first days on the trails, adding, “Joseph has worked hard over the last four years. He put in the hours of training over the summers to get where he is today.”
At GHS, Accurso’s passion for running grew and his times dipped. As a senior, he won the Harry Geraghty in South Windsor as the Guardians placed first as a team at the invite. He also had strong showings at the conference and state meets.
During spring’s outdoor track season, he won a conference championship as a leg in the 4x800 relay and then went on to the New England Championships and New Balance Nationals with the same group.
Accurso was just as impressive in the classrooms at GHS. He was a member of a handful of honor societies, and was the recipient of the 2022 Connecticut Association of Schools Male Scholar Athlete at GHS.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have such great coaches in Glastonbury, and teammates as well,” said Accurso. “I was able to push myself every day and push my limits, and become a better athlete and better person.”
He said has the same affinity for his new coaches and team in Atchison, a northeast city in Kansas.
The Ravens are led by Je’Kel Smith and compete in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.
Benedictine’s campus is located on the bluffs that overlooks the Missouri River and the Midwest climate offer a vastly different running experience for Accurso, who said the “great hills in South Glastonbury” were ideal training for college running.
“We have pretty unique geography,” added Accurso. “You get that really diverse running terrain that makes it really a great place to train.”
He added that the college and the surrounding community is even better than he expected, adding, “Everyone is so friendly and welcoming and inviting.”
Accurso’s plan is to double major in electrical engineering and computer sciences.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin