by Andrew Garda
To an outside observer, running track seems to be a solitary endeavor. Sure, you’re racing against other athletes but, especially during longer races, it appears runners are competing against themselves as much as anything else. Unlike a more focused team sport — say, soccer or football — there’s not much your teammates can do for you.
Montclair Kimberley Academy senior distance runner Billy Massey is here to tell you that’s far from the reality.
For Massey, who will be heading off to run and study at Amherst College in the fall, his teammates have been a big reason for his success. That includes Matt Petrocelli, who finished ahead of Massey in Saturday’s 3200-meter race at the NJSIAA Tournament in Randolph.
“Matt’s a great runner, he trains with me all the time,” Massey said after the race. “So do Nick Wilson and Davis Cook. Got to give a shout out to those guys.”
Massey says if it wasn’t for that trio, he might not be running today, especially at the high level he has shown himself capable of. According to Massey, Petrocelli, Wilson and Cook are as much a reason for Friday’s personal best time of 4:17.13 in the 1600-meter finals.
That’s why when Petrocelli beat him in the 3200-meters, he was happy for his friend rather than angry at not winning.
“We’re pushing each other to be better,” Massey said. “It’s nice because if I’m out on a distance run or even a race, and maybe I want to slow down and give in. I always know they’re right behind me and they’re not doing that, so I can’t do that. Yes, it is an individual sport but there’s a lot more team orientation I think than what meets the eye.”
Massey took a few minutes at the NJSIAA North, Non-Public B sectional meet Saturday to answer a few questions:
Do you have any plans for your summer? I’m going to take it easy. Relax with some friends and hang out. Enjoy my last few days as a high schooler. No job or anything, just take it easy.
Do you know what you’ll study in college? I’m not entirely sure. It’s between physics and economics. Two different fields. But it’s a liberal arts school so I’ll figure it out.
What do you do to get ready for a meet? I like to laugh around with friends. Honestly, I take it pretty easy and I like a relaxed approach to track meets. If there’s one song I listen to, it’s “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia. That’s our team song.
What do you like to do for fun? I like to spend time with my friends, read. I play the saxophone too.
Do you have a favorite musical artist? The Strokes.
What’s your favorite movie? “The Dark Knight.”
Do you have a favorite TV Show? “Game of Thrones.”
What are your thoughts on your time at MKA? “It’s been a great experience. I’ve loved it, every single moment of it. Coming to MKA as a freshman is the best decision I ever made. The people are amazing, the coaches are phenomenal. I’m very grateful to have had this opportunity.”
What’s your favorite subject? I really like history.
Who in your life inspires you? My parents. They’re very hard-working people and they both set a tone of being the hardest worker, but also very gracious and humble.