BY BEN HOROWITZ
The Cornell men’s cross country team has a number of players worthy of acclaim, but there may not be a better story than that of senior tri-captain Max Groves. Groves started out as a walk-on in his freshman year and has steadily improved his game ever since, rising to become one of the Red’s best runners as well as one of its captains for the 2013 season. However, Groves is looking forward to even greater things this year.
“I think I’ve done a lot of good things in Cornell, but I have a whole year left and I’m looking to do even bigger things than I have in my previous three years,” he said.
As a captain of the team, Groves carries the responsibility of building strong team camaraderie, which works to the team’s advantage on the running course. According to Groves, doing fun team activities has helped build chemistry between the runners.
“As far as responsibility goes, I have two other captains to help me out, and we set up activities for the team on the weekends, like go-karting, mini-golf and other fun teambuilding things like that,” he said.
Additionally, Groves stressed the importance of setting high standards for the team’s overall performance.
“We like to set goals for the entire team rather than just ourselves, and we like to keep those goals pretty high, holding ourselves to a high standard, he said.”
The traditional role of a captain is to serve as a liaison between players and the coaching staff, relaying messages to the coaches that players don’t feel comfortable telling the coaches themselves. According to Groves, this function will be limited because the coaches are very approachable.
“Our coach is very good at having time for everyone on the team, so we do not feel like we need to transfer everything from others to the staff. If somebody doesn’t want to say something that’s a little more private, they can come talk to us, and we’ll help them take care of it as best as they can,” he said.
Groves had a number of impressive performances last season. He placed third among Cornell runners and 37th overall at the NCAA Northeast Regional tournament. At the Heptagonal Championships, Groves placed 11th overall and second among the Red runners. He was first among all runners at the Wisconsin Invitational early in the season. These stand out results earned Grover a second all-Ivy team spot in addition to the title of captain. Nonetheless, Groves said he still sees plenty of room for improvement in all areas of his game.
“It’s really about putting myself in a good position in the race and just to try to get better in every category so I can put myself up into a higher level of competition,” he said.
Groves said he is especially excited for this season because he thinks the team has a lot of talent and great potential. How far it goes is only a matter of trying to stay healthy and running up to the team’s potential, according to Groves.
“We have a lot of potential for success this season but it comes down to what happens in terms of injuries because there always are some, and who will be able to run in the races,” he said. “But if we can get everything together, I think we can have some very large successes this season.”
Grover has running talent that he can put to good use, but he thinks that his biggest advantage might be his three years of prior experience with the team.
“One of the biggest advantages I have going into this year is that I’ve run with the top tiers of the Ivy League and I’ve seen what it takes,” he said. “If you see what everyone else is doing, you can try to adjust yourself to that elite level and give yourself a chance to win the race.”