As the leaves began to change colors, the Syosset High School boys varsity cross country team was gearing up for the Nassau County title battle. The team, led by head coach Rich Cafiero, had been preparing for this since June.
Senior Justin DePinto was determined to end his final fall season on a high note, and he did exactly that. In the Class I title race, he clocked in 16:07:36, enough to easily have an edge at Bethpage State Park’s five-kilometer circuit to take home the Nassau County championship. His big win helped carry the Braves to the overall title.
The Syosset-Jericho Tribune spoke with DePinto, who discusses his keys to success, as well as how he’s improved throughout his time with the Braves.
Q: How has your season been thus far?
A: We started training in the summer, specifically, in June. We practice every day as a team. We started off strong. We won the county title as a team, and I won individually there also. In the state qualifier, I had an individual win also.
Q: You did so well individually this year. What does it mean to you to have this much success?
A: I love it. It’s been great to see how hard work pays off. It’s been even better to do it with my teammates at the same time.
Q: What stands out about your ability?
A: It’s my willingness to put the work in day-in and day-out. It doesn’t get old. I love it every day.
Q: How does training throughout the summer help you succeed?
A: That’s where we get our edge over our opponents. I don’t think other teams put in the training that we do. We meet up and have practices all the time to get an edge. It makes us really fit come September and October.
Q: How have you improved as a runner over the years?
A: I definitely got a lot stronger physically. My stride and my form has improved thanks to my strength. When you have speed, your kicks will be better. Getting stronger has helped for a lot of that.
Q: How has coach Rich Cafiero helped you grow?
A: My coach is incredible. He does anything he can to help us get better. He helps us every day in practices. He tweets us stories that he thinks we should be reading. It’s a big part of it.
Q: What are your goals moving forward?
A: I want to be All-State in cross country, for indoor track and outdoor track, as well as advance to nationals. I need to keep doing what I’m doing, eating well and going to bed early. I have to keep myself honest.