At the biggest race of the season, against the toughest competition, Kayden Chhoun ’25 and his Wilbraham & Monson Academy Boys Cross Country teammates got the job done.
In a field of 158 runners and 26 teams, Kayden took 14th overall to lead the Titans to a fourth-place finish at the New England Division III Championships at Highland Park in Attleboro, Massachusetts, on Nov. 11.
The final effort capped a historic season for Coach Danielle Vartabedian’s team. WMA enjoyed an undefeated regular season, as well as wins at invitationals hosted by Canterbury, Marianapolis and Cheshire.
Quotes from Kayden
On how he performed at the New England meet: “I was very excited about my performance at New Englands and was prepared to give it everything. I did not want to burden myself with strategy and pace, wanting to go all out, so I raced without a watch and went with my gut. Even after having walked the course, it was hillier than I thought, and was even slightly long; yet I overcame one of the toughest things about this sport and managed to block out the sensation despite my body telling me to stop. It was a tough race and a mental battle, but it was all worth it in the end and I managed a new PR, breaking 18 minutes for the first time and getting a 17:53.”
On WMA’s season: “I'm incredibly proud of everybody on the team. After having lost two of our top five runners, I didn't know what to expect of this season. Thankfully, those spots were filled by two incredibly hard-working runners. I'm thankful to have gotten the opportunity to run with this group of athletes, and knowing that our top five will be back for next season is exciting. When myself and other teammates would have tough races, it was great to know that we had incredibly dependable runners behind us that were more than capable of filling those spots that we missed. Overall, it was a fantastic season and I'm thrilled to work with the same group next fall.”
On his decision to reclass: “I reclassed this year to gain an extra year of physical and emotional maturity that would help me grow as both an athlete and a student. I am taking this extra year to improve my times and increase my strength, which will drastically help in the college process as I am looking into getting recruited for track and field. As has shown, my improvement in times will have a major difference on my college decision and I am looking forward to competing in the rest of my running seasons.”
Quotes from Coach Danielle Vartabedian
On the team heading into the New England Championships: “Knowing we were first in our league was relative when we had to go up against very competitive schools from Boston and other states we hadn't gone up against yet. Some of the times we found on the other schools were extremely competitive and we wanted to make sure that no matter what the outcome, that we left the meet with our heads held high, knowing we had a great season. I knew the guys were going to give that race everything they had. We were in the best possible shape we could have been in and this race was going to come down to grit and determination, and that's what this team has a lot of.”
On Kayden’s performance at the New England Championships: “I knew Kayden was going to go out hard and just gut it out, and that is exactly what he did. He stayed with the top runners and just dug deep until the end of the race.”
On the team’s performance at the New England Championships: “These guys amazed me again. Kayden Chhoun was 14th with a PR, David Zhou ’26 was 22nd with a PR just missing a medal, Eoin Cavanaugh ’27 was 41st, Miles Hu ’26 was 51st with a PR and John Crocker ’25, who battled with an injury, gutted it out and ran an awesome time as our fifth runner for 67th place.”