Aaron Groff competes at Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon


Photo courtesy of highschoolsports.nj.com.

On December 6th, Cross Country teams from all over the country travelled to Portland, Oregon for the 11th annual Nike Cross Nationals. Many runners made the trek to Portland with members of their respective teams, however Aaron Groff (’16), made his journey with just his coach, Matt Cieslik. Aaron’s trip to Portland sure was not an easy one even though Groff brought a decent amount of experience to the table with second place finishes at Sectionals and States and a seventh place finish at the Meet Of Champions.

Groff’s pivotal moment of the season was his sixth Place finish at the NXN Northeastern Regional Race. The field was composed of teams and individuals from all over the Mid-Atlantic and New England region, and Aaron’s impressive finish was enough to qualify for Nationals.

Groff described Nationals as “one of the coolest experiences of his life” and said, “it was really cool to meet and become friends with other pretty elite high school runners from around the country.”

Pullquote Photo

I set goals for everything. It helps me never stay too satisfied with my performances.

— Aaron Groff

Of course, with any Nike sponsored event the gear was in abundance. Sneakers, along with other gear were given to the runners. The runners also got a chance to meet some of their Cross Country idols. Aaron described the professional runners as “always available” and said “they had no problem talking to us or giving us advice whenever we needed it.”

As for the in race at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, it was a wet and rainy day.

“The course was really muddy, making it harder than normal”, Groff said.  “The race didn’t go how I wanted, but I also didn’t have a set plan going in. I got out really slow and had a hard time making up all the ground.”

Even though Groff finished in 87th place, with a 16:24 time in the 5k, he said that he still learned a lot and hopes to come back next year and finish in the top 10.

One thing that Aaron says that sets him apart from the average runner is his goal setting system for himself.

Groff said, “The whole team is pretty big on it, but I set goals for everything. It helps me never stay too satisfied with my performances.”

For one of the Northeast’s brightest talents, the possibilities are endless.