What a day it was as Canterbury celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Cross Country Invitational! Special moments abounded throughout the landmark event.
Running in the first-ever race named in honor of their Head Coach, it was only fitting that the Girls’ Cross Country team win it for her. They finished in first place in the Tracy Garcia-LaVigne Girls’ Cross Country Invitational to the delight of the students and alumni in attendance. A few weeks prior, Tracy was moved to tears when she was surprised with news of the honor in front of the Saints community at School Meeting.
The Boys’ team had plenty to cheer about, too. The team finished fifth, and Bradley Bozzuto ’25 took first place overall in the Walter Burke Boys’ Cross Country Invitational, newly named in honor of the long-time coach. Walter is a member of the Canterbury Athletics Hall of Fame and led the undefeated 1977 Track and Field Team that was also inducted into the Hall of Fame. We were pleased to welcome Coach Burke back to campus for the anniversary festivities.
Bradley relished the opportunity to pick Coach Burke’s brain about running. “I asked him if he had one piece of advice for me going into my season,” Bradley shared. “He told me to do a lot of long, slow distance—to do my training runs slowly and not rush anything. Cut back on the speed work and focus on more endurance runs.” Which, as it turns out, is exactly what Head Coach Steven Gooler is teaching the team.
Winning the race on the occasion of the meet’s 50th anniversary made it extra-special for Bradley. “It was definitely a bigger event than the last two years, and that was one reason I wanted to win it,” he said. “The thing I love about Cross Country is the energy. Everyone is so kind and understanding. At the end of the day, we are competitors in the race, but we are friends at the finish line.”
There was a tremendous amount of positive energy for the two amazing coaches being honored as well. “The 50th running of the Cross Country Invitational has allowed the Athletic Department to celebrate two of Canterbury’s most accomplished and beloved coaches—Walter Burke, one of the event’s founders, and Tracy Garcia-Lavigne, whose leadership has ensured the invitation’s integrity for the past 20+ years,” said Associate Director of Athletics Paddy McCarthy ’94. “Both of these coaches have greatly impacted the lives of countless Canterbury runners then and now. The renaming of the Invitational divisions is a fitting tribute to their legacies and service to Canterbury School.”
Kudos to all of our Cross Country student-athletes today and through the years, and congratulations to Tracy and Walter for this well-earned distinction. Let’s do 50 more!