WESTFIELD, NJ – The high school senior finished eighth overall in a Group 4 cross-country meet at Holmdel Park over the weekend with a personal best of 16:38 on the 5K course.

James McCutcheon is this week’s Ron Bansky & Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week. It is not just his speed that has earned him praise.

Head coach Christopher Tafelski said that McCutcheon, who is one of the team’s four captains, has taken a strong leadership role.

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“James’ leadership, not just how he trains and competes, but how he directs the other guys, how he is the emotional level of the team and he pulls guys up when they’re struggling, that type of action coming from a peer is really powerful,” Tafelski said.

McCutcheon was the team’s top performer in the season’s first meet of the year, and since then had been working to best that performance, he said.

“As the season progressed, he got more confident,” Tafelski said. “He got stronger, and that culminated in a really good performance on Saturday.”

While a strong finish for McCutcheon, the team finished second in the state sectional, although not by much, Tafelski said.

“To come in second by six points, that’s a really tough thing as a team to deal with, but James having the best performance of the season and finishing in the top 10 of the race, that shows a lot,” he said.

McCutcheon said this has been the most exciting season he has run in his high school career.

"The team right now is the most solid I’ve ever seen it in my four years on the team," he added. "I had a slow start to the season, but when you see your teammates working so hard and performing so well, it’s hard not to get caught up in that positive energy."

The team heads to the Meet of Champions this coming weekend, something McCutcheon said, he is looking forward to.

"We’re all geared up to do something awesome at the Meet of Champions," McCutcheon said. "I couldn’t have achieved the things I have without this team, and I can’t wait to see what this awesome group of guys accomplishes this Saturday."