lastonbury High School cross country runner Joseph Accurso is proof that hard work pays off.
Accurso first started distance running his first year in high school to prepare him for outdoor track season. At the time he said he was one of the slowest freshmen on the team but over the past three years he’s transformed into one of the better runners in the area.
This past Friday, the GHS senior ran the fastest time (16:18) to win the Harry Geraghty Invitational in South Winsor. Accurso first-place finish helped the Guardians win the overall event.
Accurso has picked up where he left off last fall when he was named All-State following his junior campaign.
“My progression was spurred by the exceptional work ethic of the upperclassmen at that time. A lot of emphasis was placed on goal setting during my freshman year. Each time I achieved a goal, it was replaced with a more ambitious one. At the beginning of each season, goal-setting made me ask myself where I wanted to be at the end of the season and how I was going to get there,” recalled Accurso, “The legendary alumni of Glastonbury’s running programs have also really inspired me. It’s an honor to be able to chase after the records of accomplished Glastonbury runners such as Donn Cabral, Randy Neish, and others.”
GHS head coach Mark Alexander said he could see Accurso’s drive as a freshman, “Joseph worked very hard over the last four years. He put in the hours of training over the summers to get to where he is today.”
He continued, “As a leader the team respects Joseph. He talks to the younger athletes and gives them pointers on how to improve. He always leads by example. The younger athletes see how hard he works and the success he has this season. They want to be like Joseph, and they work hard like him.”
The school’s cross country programs are consistently competitive, and this fall the boy’s team is replacing several pieces after graduating a lot of depth.
Accurso said, “The team this year is a solid group of guys who all want to consistently put in the work and improve. Our freshmen, in particular, have shown great promise because they are just as hungry to improve and contribute to the team as our upperclassmen. The goal for this rebuilding season is to act as a kickstart for our program’s promising next couple of years.”
Accurso added that an important aspect is the team’s work with GHS strength and conditioning coach Zachary Bohling.
“This allowed us to work on acceleration and strength to prepare for the hilly championship course at Wickham Park. Personally, in preparation for the season I emphasized increasing my summer mileage to 50-55 miles every week. Despite graduating a lot of our top runners last year, in terms of having the confidence to lead and represent the team during competitions, there wasn’t much of a change. Our goal for this season is to qualify for state opens as a team and then see how many guys we can get qualified for New England’s.”
Accurso and his cross country teammates have the Wickham Park Invitational coming up this Saturday, October 9. The conference and state tournaments will take place later this month.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin