Cross country kicks off long-awaited season on campus


Marie Godderis

Freshman Maddy Randall (right) pushes ahead of Mountain View High School runners in the varsity girls race. She finished sixth in her race and 13th overall out of 111 varsity girls.

For photographic coverage of the meet, see The Talon’s photo essay.

The warm weather set in yesterday, marking the beginning of a new chapter for the cross country team, who hasn’t competed in over a year. The team went head-to-head with Mountain View High School in the first Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL) meet of the season, following several delays from the County. The LAHS girls won the meet overall with 62 points, and the LAHS boys placed fourth with 125 points.

Despite the team not running on a typical hilly course, athletes remained enthusiastic to kick off the season right at home — on the LAHS campus. The 2.1-mile course consisted of two main loops that covered the football field, baseball field, soccer field and main parking lot, with the finish line on the football field. Athletes were required to wear a mask at all times, except during their race, and no spectators were allowed at the meet, including family members.

Thirteen schools raced throughout the entire day. Each school faced another in “dual meets,” with the Eagles facing the MVHS Spartans in the day’s last race at 2:28 p.m. Within each race, athletes were separated into waves by division, each with a maximum of 20 athletes.

“The meet as a whole went really smoothly,” head coach Stephanie MacKenzie said. “For a dual meet, we got lucky because it was actually a really close race and a really good match-up.”

Notably, junior Riley Capuano finished first in her race and placed fourth overall out of 111 varsity girls with a time of 12 minutes and 46.7 seconds.

“I felt really good today,” Riley said. “I decided to take the first mile easy because I always have more fun when I feel stronger in the second half of the race. I feel like we’ve had good training, so I was ready.”

The team was missing several runners who had to quarantine after traveling during February break, the most notable being sophomore Lauren Soobrian. Lauren was the fastest freshman girl in the state last year and is looking to compete next week. The LAHS girls’ victory despite not having a full roster showcases their strength as a team this year.

“I am really excited for the next upcoming meets and think it’s a huge deal since we have not had any school meets since last March,” Lauren said. “They will be a great way to gain more racing experiences and bond as a team.”

On the boys side of the meet, there were both mishaps and victories. A few top varsity boys runners, namely senior Kevin Andrews and sophomore Boden Sirey, had to drop out midway through their race due to injuries, but senior Hans Holst took the win and finished fourth overall out of 231 varsity boys with a time of 10 minutes and 48 seconds.

“We went out pretty fast, so I was a little tired going into the first mile,” Hans said. “I generally like to save a little for the kick. I just stuck behind two Mountain View runners, and I got them at the end.”

Needless to say, Hans’s senior year is not what he would’ve hoped for. The cross country season has been shortened to exclude regional and state competitions, yet Hans has remained grateful and is determined to continue improving as a runner this season.

“I mean, it’s whatever,” Hans said. “We still have some more meets — hopefully there’s going to be one at a real cross country course — and there’s faster times to come.”

Yesterday’s meet was the freshmen’s first high school race experience and a sign of more success down the road. In what freshman Maddy Randall called “a really cool opportunity,” athletes were able to experience the thrill of a cross country race, even if they didn’t climb hills.

“It makes me sad because it shouldn’t be on a campus like the middle school meets,” MacKenzie said in regards to the team’s newcomers. “But they told me they got nervous, so that means they’re getting that race experience.”

Despite having only a few weeks of training prior to the meet, many freshmen felt as if they were already well acclimated to the team, largely because of the welcoming environment that the upperclassmen created.

“[The upperclassmen] are some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, so it was a really easy transition into doing high school sports,” Maddy, who placed sixth in her varsity race, said. “That was really nice.”

The cross country team will face Palo Alto High School in their next dual meet on Saturday, February 27, at the Los Gatos High School campus.