Masotti’s Dedication Fueled Grizzlies’ Success on the Cross Country Course
Throughout his cross country career, Michael Masotti prided himself on perfecting the balance of pacing himself throughout the course of a race while overtaking fellow runners. While Masotti mastered the skill of speeding up and slowing down, he also saved the best of his acquired expertise for one of the final legs of his grind with the Grizzlies.
The Guilford boys’ cross country senior captain began his athletic life by playing a variety of sports such as basketball, baseball, and soccer. Upon entering junior high, Michael shifted his feet into the running lane by participating in cross country and the rest was history.
This fall, after helping lead the Grizzlies to an SCC Hammonasset Division title and runner-up finish at the SCC Championship meet, Michael made the All-State Team and qualified for the State Open Championship by finishing sixth overall at the Class MM State Championship on Oct. 29 at Wickham Park. In this meet, he set a personal best time when he clocked in at 16 minutes and 46 seconds.
“I was honestly not expecting it,” Michael says on his personal record pace. “I saw the time on the clock when I crossed the finish line and it was great. I trained really hard this year, going back to this past summer. I just stayed in front for the first half mile, and then looked for when to pass people towards the end.”
Michael says that he knew it was necessary to develop his burst ability if he were to achieve both solo and squad success. He details that even if it meant pushing himself just a little bit further when he thought he was already at the point of exhaustion, it yielded the best results.
“When I started out in cross country, I definitely did not have the best speed at the end of the races. So I would run 400s [meter runs] after a long workout, and that was crucial to me developing bursts of speed at the end,” says Michael, who finished 27th at the State Open at Wickham Park on Nov. 4 (16:50), the Grizzlies’ highest finish at the event since 2015. “At the State Open, I passed 12 or 13 runners in the last 400 meters. To grow through the years and see my strategy change, it really helped myself and the team.”
As he already had a prior year of leadership tenure under his belt as a junior captain in 2021, Michael demonstrated excellent examples to his peers in displaying the intangibles that separate spectacular sprinters from the pack.
“Last year as a captain, I learned how to include everyone and how to help everyone run as fast as possible,” Michael says. “I tried to teach the guys to have a no-quit and give-it-your-all mentality. Being a junior captain, I had leadership over some people that were older than me, but they were also still teaching me things. Being a captain was nerve-racking, but it was a big honor.”
Guilford boys’ cross country head coach Jon Rivera praises Michael for not only his dependability as a leader, but also his steady and swift feet in never letting up on the course.
“Michael was a tremendous asset to our program. He was our lone captain and provided great leadership to the team,” says Rivera. “One thing that stands out about Michael is his consistency; he always trained hard and worked hard at practice. He is one of the most reliable racers I’ve ever had. You can always count on Michael, and it’s been that way for four years.”
Michael has not completed his final mile with the Grizzlies just yet, as he additionally runs the 1600, 3200, and 4x8 relay for Guilford boys’ outdoor track in the spring. Still, he displays his gratitude for his coaches and teammates that motivated him to carve his own mark in an historically great running pedigree within Guilford.
“For both cross country and track, the coaches are so dedicated,” says Michael. “My success wouldn’t be possible without Coach Rivera and [Guilford track coach] George Cooksey. It is a prestigious honor to be part of a great program here by being one of the fastest runners on the team. Our team had a big focus on summer training heading into this year. We had a lot of injuries last year, and we tried to prevent them this year. We put it together and ran very well in our division.”