Boys Cross country Makes Strides Despite Odds

Though it felt the grind from lack of runners, the boys varsity cross country team was still able to overcome the obstacles it faced.

“[The season] has gone somewhat surprisingly well, considering the number of varsity runners that graduated last year,” sophomore Eric Safai said. “Many people have stepped up to fill the empty slots.”

One such player was freshman Ben Schneider.

“I was really surprised to make the varsity team,” Ben said. “Now that I’m here, I’m giving it all I’ve got.”

Not only did the team lose key players to graduation, but injuries prevented some runners in participating

“We lost Jon Tran to shin splints,” Eric said. “Ben Stabell fell during a race and scratched himself pretty badly, and me with my broken wrist.”

The varsity team saw not only a change in line-up this season, but also a change in coaching staff. Assistant coach Lauren Swigart was a new addition to the team this fall.

“She is a huge inspiration to all of us,” Ben said. “She ran in the Iron Man a few months back and we all greatly respect her. She definitely had an impact on our performance.”

Despite these changes, the team placed highly in their meets and qualified for CCS at the SCVAL League Finals on October 30.

“Almost everyone including me had a cold,” Ben said. “Also it was at least fifteen degrees hotter [at finals].”

However, at CCS, the team overcame the obstacles presented to them and continued, despite the odds, to place in the low 60’s and 70’s, an admirable placement given the overall field of 140 participating runners.

“We did all right,” Ben said. “As a team, we placed in the middle … which is pretty good as we were competing against teams like Carlmont, who ranks nationally.”

Eric came in 60th out of 140 runners with a time of 17:07, Ben placed 67th with 17:18, and senior Charlie Kokernak placed 70th with 17:22.

Senior Jon Tran rolled his ankle on a steep hill during the second mile of the race, forcing him into last place.

Though for most, running may seem like a side ache waiting to happen, Ben and Eric believe that cross country can change one’s entire view on running.

“You come in thinking a mile is insanely far and when the season ends, five or six miles seem far,” Eric said. “It doesn’t matter how fast you are because it’s more of an an individual sport. You can improve your times and how you feel [as a person].”

Similarly, Ben feels that running is not always what meets the eye.

“Though our sport seems boring, it is the toughest on the school offers,” Ben said. “The fact that our entire sport is what most other teams do for punishment really says a lot about us.”