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Cross Country Team Goes the Distance

Season Recap
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz

The Cross Country team was on a roll for their entire past season. In three of their league meets, both the Girls and Boys Varsity teams came in first place. In their Mt. Sac Invitational,  the Boys team placed second overall, while the girls team placed fourth overall. For reference, the average race is three miles with varying terrain and has over 100 runners participating. This year, Mt. Sac reduced their miles to two due to intense heat. Nevertheless, our Varsity runners ran at impressive speeds due to the hard work they put in year round. For example, practice is on a schedule of Monday through Friday (even through the summer) and when a runner misses practice, they make it up at home. Their unmatched dedication to the sport has led to enormous success and a drive that pushes them to strive for greatness in the sport.

It’s been a great season for the runners, including their most outstanding runners across their Boys and Girls Varsity, Boys Junior Varsity teams. The Boys Varsity team is lead by Pedro Yanez, Mateo Duran, Kevin Garcia, and Bryan Lezama. Their top runners for Boys Junior Varsity include Josue Ordonez, Omar Hamdan, Braden Chakma, and Kevin Mozo. Top runners for the Girls teams include Luisa Mendez, Elisa Bernardez, Rosario Ruiz, Abby Nunez, and Nkemdilim Anoh.

On practice days and speed days, with the encouragement of their coach Mr. Highducheck, the players actively push themselves and each other to be better than last time, and to achieve greater heights of endurance and speed. One of the main factors of this is the team captain; they help keep the team in line and ready for each practice. When practice days come, the veteran players set a standard for the freshmen players to follow. Their unmatched dedication to the sport has led to enormous success and a drive that pushes them to strive for greatness in the sport.

Earlier in the season, we were able to ask some of the runners the following questions: 

  1. What motivates you to push yourself so hard in Cross Country?
  2. What goes through your mind when racing?
  3. Any secrets to your personal and team’s success?

Elisa Bernardez responded:

“What motivates me to push myself in running is the thought of not being able to ever run again.Most of my thinking happens before the race.  I strategize the way I’ll run the race depending on the course. While running I just remember my plan and follow it throughout the race. The secret to our successes is our bond. We are all friends and opponents to one another, but we share a common goal: Improving our team’s ranking. That goal pushes us to improve and challenge each other to do better.”

Luisa Mendez responded:

“Motivation comes in various forms. Before a race, my motivation is to finish the race with a good time, whereas during the race my motivation is to pass as many people as possible in order to place my team in the top three. Sometimes it’s hard to be motivated during workouts and being exhausted but remembering that these hard training sessions are going to help me get faster is what motivates me to put my 100% effort into training. The most important thing to the team’s success is the bond between us. Before the race, we all warm up together and motivate each other to try our hardest during the race. Minutes before the race when we’re all standing at the start line, we say our chant and remember that we’re running for the team.”

Pedro Yanez responded:

“What motivates me to push myself in running is the thought of not being able to ever run again. Most of my thinking happens before the race. I strategize the way I’ll run the race depending on the course. While running I just remember my plan and follow it throughout the race. The secret to our successes is our bond. We are all friends and opponents to one another, but we share a common goal: Improving our team’s ranking. That goal pushes us to improve and challenge each other to do better.”

For Coach Highducheck, this was also a season for great achievement. Coach Highducheck reflects on how he has improved over the years and continues to improve on his coaching techniques. He realizes mistakes he made in previous seasons, which fuels his drive to improve; he strives to improve not only his coaching skills, but his team as a whole. He also takes into consideration the physical wellness of his runners by understanding that Cross Country is a game of patience with the development of his runners as the ultimate goal.

Mr. Highducheck also hinted at the start of a track team for HMSA if the required needs for it are fulfilled, so stay tuned for that.

On November 2nd, they participated in the Coastal League final and each team dominated their races. The Boys JV team won their race by 43 points, with Angel De Jesus coming in first place while Diego Duran was close behind at second place. This allowed them to win the JV title for a second year in a row.

The Girls Team continues this string of domination, winning their race by 43 points, with Elisa Bernardez, Rosario Ruiz, Abby Nunez, and Nkedilim Anoh coming in the top 6 places. Continuing the string of domination, Luisa Mendez came in at first place by 25 seconds, being crowned as the Coastal League champion. 

The Boys Varsity team claimed the league title for the 9th time in a row, beating out every team by 30 points.  Brian Lezama, Kevin Garcia, and Francisco Robles finished in the top 10, with Pedro Yanez coming in second place overall! Pedro also made HMSA history, having the second fastest race time on record.

Since all the teams won their races, they were able to advance to the CIF semifinals. In these semi-finals, the boys team placed in the top 3 of Division 5 heat 3, with Bryan Lezima, Kevin Garcia and Pedro Yanez placing among the top 20 racers in the race. The Girls team was able to  place among the top 5 among the other teams, with Elisa Bernardez and Luisa Mendez placing in the top 20 racers.

With this showing, the Cross Country team was able to advance to the CIF Division Finals. There, the Boys Varsity was able to place among the top three teams in the race, with Pedro Yanez placing in the top 20 racers. On the Girls side of things, though they gave it their absolute hardest throughout this season and in this race, they weren’t able to make the cut, coming in at 14th place.

 After everything that has happened throughout this season, the Boys team was able to make it to the CIF State Cross Country Championships. In the Championship, the boys team gave it their all, but were not able to gain victory this time, coming in at 16th place. 

Though they came up short at State level, the Cross Country team as a whole has made tremendous achievements and improved significantly over the past season. With all of this in mind, we would like to give a final congratulation for the team’s great improvement and outstanding achievements this season.

 

Courtesy of Mr. Highducheck
Courtesy of Mr. Highducheck
Courtesy of Mr. Highducheck
Courtesy of Mr. Highducheck
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz
Courtesy of Mrs. Kratz
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About the Contributor
Jayden Lisungi
Jayden Lisungi, Writer
Jayden is currently a sophomore, but this is actually his first year doing newspaper. He is ready to give it 100% max effort. He also enjoys watching tv shows, playing video games, going to the gym, and walking.

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