On Friday, June 9, graduating senior Matt Thalmann '17 was honored with a plaque in the St. Mark's Cross Country "Grove of Champions."
Created in 2013, the Grove of Champions is located along the SM cross country course, in the woods between the top of Killer Hill and the access road in the meadow. On trees throughout the Grove are plaques recognizing every St. Mark's runner—male and female—who made the All-ISL team, with each runner honored after their senior season.
This year, Samantha Sarafin '17, captain and most valuable runner for Girls' Varsity Cross Country, will also be honored. The plaques for the most recent runners also include their best times on the St. Mark's course. The league has kept the records of all-league runners since they started awarding them in 1981, so the Grove of Champions at St. Mark's covers runners over the past 36 years.
Matt Thalmann nailed his plaque to a tree in the Grove that Friday. He was accompanied by several of his fellow runners, especially classmates from 2017, who together—Thalmann, Liam Busconi, Henry Hirschfeld, Theo Bartlett, Julian Ortiz, Andrew Laquerre—over four years posted a varsity regular season record of 50-14; a JV regular season record of 56-8; an ISL Championship (and consistent finishes in the top quarter of the League every year); two JV ISL Championships; a New England Championship; and a successful transition to NEPSTA's Division One (where St. Mark's beat every school in New England except three, Andover, Exeter, and Loomis, despite being 2-3 times smaller than every school in that division).
Individually, Matt Thalmann was a two-year captain, was the fourth fastest runner on the SM course, finished in the top 15 in four ISL championship races, made an unprecedented four All-ISL teams, was a three-year All New England selection, and "was a great leader and teammate," according to head coach David Lyons.