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Sunday, Jan 16, 2022

Seven questions for Zander Kessler ’22.5, men’s cross country

Zander Kessler ’22.5, from Concord, Mass., is a senior Feb on the men’s cross country team. In this installment of “Seven Questions,” Kessler reveals his favorite part about being on the cross country team, his favorite memory from the season so far and one thing that people don’t realize about the sport. 

BS: Why Middlebury?

ZK: I chose Middlebury because I wanted a strong academic school with a strong cross country/ track and field program where I would be pushed but still able to contribute and score. I toured almost all of the NESCAC schools but felt the most welcomed by the team and community at Middlebury. 

BS: What do you study here and how do you spend your free time?

ZK: I'm an environmental studies-chemistry joint major. Coursework and sports take a significant chunk of my time, but I love to ski during J-Term, and I've been known to take long, leisurely meals in the dining halls with teammates and other friends on days when I have a lighter load. This fall I've been getting outside to swimming holes or leaf-peeping spots before the weather gets too cold.

BS: What's your favorite part about being on the cross country team at Midd?

ZK: My favorite part about the team is the sense of community. When I arrived for preseason my freshman year, I had 20 best friends right away. With so many diverse interests, someone on the team is always down for some sort of activity or able to help me with some sort of problem. I really enjoy how close we are with the women's cross country team as well as the larger track team because that means any question can always be answered by someone on the team. The support network of a 100-person team is a crucial part of my health, happiness, and both academic and athletic success.

BS: What has been your favorite memory from this season so far?

ZK: I don't know about a specific moment but my favorite part of this season so far has been [being] able to have meals at the same table again. I never laugh harder than when we have a big group crowded around a table at a Proc dinner. 

BS: Are there any misconceptions about cross country as a sport? 

ZK: People don't realize how much thought goes into racing. Before a meet, we will strategize about gaps and weak spots in other teams just like you would in other sports. In our last meet, there were 493 men entered, so it was important to know beforehand the jerseys of the teams that were the strongest and which individuals are strong but on slightly weaker teams. It's also important to know the landmarks of a particular course to judge how much time you have left. I'm constantly doing math in my head while running to calculate how fast I'm going, which teams have people ahead of me, how many people are ahead of me and what our team's score is. 

BS: Where is your favorite spot to run in Vermont? 

ZK: Running is beautiful everywhere around here, but I especially love the dirt roads on South Street and Creek Road. 

BS: What is one thing about you that few people know? 

ZK: My friends know this, but the reason I go by Zander with a Z is that in Kindergarten there were two other Alexanders in my class and I didn't want to have Alex K on my name tag. I spelled it phonetically with a Z instead of an X because I hadn't grasped the concept of X making a Z sound.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Blaise Siefer

Blaise Siefer ‘23 is the Senior Sports Editor.

Siefer is majoring in Sociology and plans to minor in Spanish.

Now in his third year writing for The Campus, Siefer has covered  several varsity teams and has written numerous feature stories for the  sports section. Last year, he began to host and produce a sports  podcast, Siefer's Scoop, which he will continue to run throughout the  '21-22 academic year. The podcast tells the stories of Middlebury's  varsity athletes, both past and present.

Siefer is also the co-president of Middlebury Club Soccer.