“The bad horses feel the most pain,” said the stable owner. “They know the most suffering.”
“Yes,” said the Zen master. “And that is why THEY may actually be the best horses!”
The point of the parable is that when you learn too easily, you’re tempted not to work hard, and you’re surprised by struggle. The “worst” horse can be the best, for if it perseveres, it will have learned the art of running in every screaming nerve.
This is a good lesson to keep in mind after the shock of the first race, where a burning set of lungs and heavy pair of legs overwhelm the senses. Tough workouts and steady long runs are one thing, but there’s no substitute for the jolt of the gunshot. You feel it in the bones, and your bones are learning.
The sophomores had never run Katherine Legge before, and so every root, drumlin, and creekbed was a new shudder.But they picked up where they left off, showing courage and ambition. Led by the frequently mispronounced Noah Schalliol (4th, 16:04), the Wildcats placed five in the top 30 to finish 2nd overall. Charlie Rook (20th, 17:06) and Sachin Fong (22nd, 17:12) surged at key points, while Jacob “Stick Man” Nauman (28th, 17:27) and Nathanael Howard (30th, 17:30) stayed close enough to hold off our rivals. Strong races also came from Liam Dorsey (17:37), Iam Kim (18:00), Andrew Gutierrez (18:07), Henry Golden (18:08), Adam Johnson (18:16), Ben Serna (18:18), and Josh Kubicki (18:30).
But it was the freshmen who had the most to learn as they laced up for their first high school race. In one of the most talented fields in years, the neo-Wildcats earned their jerseys and a 6th place finish. Nico Castrillon (16th, 10:41) led the way, followed by Joseph Cyrus (30th, 10:58), Andres Lopez (41st, 11:07), Logan Brown (43rd, 11:13), and Connolly Corbin (52nd, 11:21). Also showing surprising moxie were Sam Hotchkiss (11:40), Connor Boehm (11:44), Ben Nylen (11:48), Matthew Gutierrez (11:52), and Nick Lapetino (11:53).
Perhaps the most exciting moment of the day was the first, when Nicolas Dovalovsky was edged out in a final lean. It’s the sort of moment that every runner despises, to have a fifteen minute gauntlet determined by a fraction of a second. But it’s often the best thing for a horse who wants to be the best. It hurts. But we remember and learn.
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