Jesse Edelstein says cross country isn’t for the slow or weak – of heart. The clock doesn’t lie and it can be your best friend one day and an unforgiving enemy the next time you cross the finish line.
“Cross country is a tough sport in that you can put in so much work and either be very happy or extremely disappointed with your results,” said Edelstein, one of the leaders of this season’s Skyline boys’ cross country team. “It requires a lot of sacrifice but that makes things so much more rewarding and exciting when it gets time to race.”
There was plenty of rewards and excitement the last time Edelstein crossed the finish line. The Skyline boys’ cross country team placed fifth at the MHSAA Division 1 boys’ cross country meet at Michigan International Speedway on Nov. 3. It was the highest the Eagles have placed in school history.
And it made all that work worthwhile leaving not only a record performance but a memory that will last a lifetime.
“I was incredibly excited for states because it was our last opportunity to really show what our team was capable of,” said Edelstein, who finished 33rd in 16:27.6, which highlights the bitter part of bittersweet.
“I was a little bit disappointed with my finish at states and after coming off of a track season where I was able to hang in there with some of the top guys in the state I was hoping to carry that over onto the grass,” Edelstein said. “But cross country is an unforgiving sport and nothing is given.”
Skyline ran every race as a team and despite his time not exactly being where he wanted it, Edelstein realizes the Eagles still had a “sweet” season.
“We were pretty happy when we finished fifth because it was our goal all season to improve on our finish from last year,” Edelstein said. “We knew all season that we were capable of beating Pioneer and that was definitely a goal of ours. I think it came down to everyone on our team having a good race on the same day and we’ve been very consistent all season so we knew that we had a great chance. Also since our team has a very tight one-through-five spread we knew that in a larger field like states we had a chance.”
Edelstein was one of the keys that helped the Eagles finish second with 69 points at the very competitive Brighton Regional on Oct. 26 at Huron Meadows. He ran 16:15.3 to finish 12th overall. Edelstein was top 10 in three races this season and top 15 in every race before the state finals. His personal-best time was 16:01.0 at the Chelsea Invitational on Sept. 29.
“I think this year’s team was so successful because of the variability in finish order,” he said. “There was no clear number one man on the team and that caused everyone to compete with and push each other. Having a top five that is so similar in ability is crucial in cross country especially in larger meets like states.
“I think our team culture this year was more characterized by accountability for everyone on the team. We all had great individual goals as well as team goals and we were all invested in helping each other achieve those goals.”
Edelstein started running track in middle school and then chasing goals in high school.
“When I started having more success I began to take it more seriously and eventually it became one of my biggest passions,” said Jesse, the son of Jack Edelstein and Eileen Dzik. “Up until my junior year my main goals were to qualify for the state finals in both track and cross country. After a few tough breaks my sophomore year things started to shape up junior year as I was All-Conference and All-Region in cross country and I ended up finishing All-State in the 1600 in track.”
Edelstein, who has 3.95 GPA, hopes to run track and cross country in college.
First, he gets one more season on the track in the spring – where he will continue his ongoing relationship with the stopwatch.