Many wish they could do their day job as well as Reece Ragusa does his side job. Ragusa, who said he’s primarily attending Emerson to study film, finds himself as Emerson cross-country’s leading men’s runner three races into the season.
“I came, definitely, for the film program, and then I realized they had a cross-country team, and I was like ‘Oh yeah, that’s nice, I can do that on the side,’” Ragusa said.
The freshman cross-country revelation owns the Lions’ top finish in each of the first three races of the season. Between the first and second meets, he shaved nearly a full minute off his time, dropping it from 29:32 to 28:36.
Ragusa said his introduction to college cross-country, in which men’s teams run an 8K (5 mile) race, has been a change of pace from the 5K (3.1 mile) race that is the standard high school event.
“I’m still trying to adjust and get even faster. The extra two miles is very strange, and it does put a strain on your body that you wouldn’t expect,” Ragusa said. “I think as more races come, my body will just get used to it.”
Ragusa ran both cross-country and track and field at Arlington High School in New York, where he compiled a track record impressive enough that Emerson head coach John Furey expected to get a top runner.
Ragusa said he was expecting to make an impact, but didn’t anticipate he would lead the pack this early in the season.
“I knew I’d be on one of the higher ends, because I came from a really great running high school with a really great coach, but I did not expect the level of success that I’ve gotten so far,” Ragusa said. “It is a little weird to be up front that quickly. I’m used to high school, where freshman year you have to work your way [up].”
It is success that is earned thanks to Ragusa’s devotion to training, senior captain Matt Lavallee said.
“He doesn’t cut corners—literally or figuratively. He’s always going above and beyond,” Lavallee, a senior visual and media arts major, said. “Speaking as a runner, I know it’s about listening to your body. He always seems to have one more in him.”
Ragusa said he hopes to end the season with a personal best college time of around 27 minutes for the 8K race. Furey also projects improvement as variables continue to stack up in Ragusa’s favor.
“I think he can chop a chunk of time off before the end of the year, maybe another 30 to 60 seconds or so, somewhere in that range,” Furey said. “As he gets used to it, continues to train, gets used to racing, [and] the weather gets cooler—that helps too.”
Off the course, Ragusa aspires to write and direct films, especially dramas blended with a second genre (he cited drama and sports as an example). He is an active member of SPEC, an on-campus organization that brings together students with film scripts to share.
Ragusa said meetings consist of the scripts being dutifully read aloud, and then critiqued by others.
“I really enjoy that, and I want to submit one of my own scripts to see what everybody thinks,” Ragusa said. “It really gives writers a good perspective on their scripts.”
Emerson will travel to the Saints Invitational on Oct. 14. It will be their final race before the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference meet at the end of the month.
Sports editor Hannah Miller, a runner on Emerson’s women’s cross-country team, did not edit or contribute to this article.