Page 22 - November2021
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 Page 22
By miChael laplume
As a New England runner, you have to ignore the weather fore- cast. If you let the weather dictate your running schedule, then you will never run. As a cross country coach, I say this to my athletes all the time. New England weather provides many excuses “not to run” during every season. Spring showers, summer heatwaves, au- tumn t-storms, and winter ev- erything! In order to be a great distance runner, however, you must have a consistent running regimen. Connor Downes gets that.
If you have lived in the New- found Area School District over the past couple of years, you have probably seen him out running in all sorts of weather conditions. He runs through heatwaves, snow- storms, and everything in be- tween. He is currently on a quest to run every road in Bristol, and I think he is just about there. When he sets his mind on something, it’s as good as accomplished.
Connor joined the Newfound Cross Country team his fresh- man year, 2018. He worked hard through a few injuries in his first couple of years and wasn’t a major contributor to the team. He con- tinued to work hard, however, and developed his running economy.
In the spring of 2020, every- thing changed for Connor. With the global pandemic and the shutdown of virtually everything, Connor took the opportunity to
SHINING STAR: Connor Downes
November 2021
Country team all fall as a captain and as the number one runner in all the races so far. He has won two races as an individual so far as well, the White Mountains and Mascoma Invites. He has led our team to a 28 and 1 record among Division all teams this season.
When he is not winning Cross Country races, Connor also enjoys giving back to his school and com- munity. He has been involved with Educational Talent Search since 2016; he has been a member of the Student Athletic Leadership Team (SALT) since 2018, served on the TTCC Teen Council since 2018, is a member of the National Honor Society, and works as a Ragged Mountain Ski Instructor. Sometimes I think that the only thing Connor does not do is rest.
Although Connor is undecided about where he wants to go to col- lege next fall and what he wants to study, he does know that he wants to run Cross Country and Track. He has been contacted by several college coaches and gone on a few campus tours. Whatever he decides to do, I know he will be very successful. His mindset will not allow him to be anything else. He has an uncanny ability to set his mind on a goal and achieve that goal.
Just like the weather in New England, nothing is too big a chal- lenge for Connor. Whatever the obstacle in his way, he will clear it. He does not see roadblocks or limits. He just sees goals, opportu- nities, and clear skies ahead.
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focus on running. He spent the spring building his mileage up to about 30-35 per week. He contin- ued to build his miles throughout the summer and entered the 2020 season in the best shape of his life and the best runner on the team. He continued to hold that posi- tion throughout the season. He dropped his 5k time dramatically and led our boys team to an unde- feated regular season.
As the season progressed, Con- nor began to emerge as a vocal leader as well. He began to ex- press himself more in practices and meet prep. Downes started to scour the internet for stats and share them with the rest of our team. As he continued to mature and grow, we, as coaches, could see his impact on the rest of the team. They all began to fall in line
and follow his lead. At that point, we decided to make him a cap- tain. A role that he accepted and immersed himself in, leading the teamtoatop5finishattheDi- vision lll State Championships in 2020.
Over the course of last win- ter, Connor continued to develop himself as a runner and a leader. Through some extremely diffi- cult winter conditions, he pushed his miles up to 50 per week some weeks.
As spring approached, Connor had a decision to make. Was he going to continue playing base- ball as he had always done? Was he going to make the switch to running outdoor track, or was he going to do both? In true over- achiever fashion, he decided to do both. He spent his spring splitting
his time between baseball and track practices while still main- taining a high level of focus on his academics.
Connor went on to have a suc- cessful spring season all the way around. He was a contributing member of the baseball team as a pitcher and backup catcher pri- marily. As a pitcher, he had two wins and zero losses, and his bat- ting average was .333. “Connor was great to have on the team bringing experience and exem- plary gameplay,” says his assistant baseball coach Ryan Baker.
He was also able to compete in a few track meets, and he got himself qualified to run in the Division lll State Championships in the 3200-meter run. On a mid 90 degree day in mid-June, he fin- ished 6th overall, scoring a point for the track team in the process. While accomplishing all of that, he still maintained a ranking of the top 10 in his class.
Over the summer of 2021, Connor was a counselor at the TTCC summer camp, as he has done for the past three summers. While working a 40 hour week all summer, he still maintained a solid running regimen, averaging 35-40 miles per week. In addition to all of that, he found time to volunteer with the TTCC youth running club twice a week. Thus, he was passing on what he learned during his years on the Cross Country team to the youth of our commu- nity.
Connor has led the Cross
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