Cross Country Looks to Repeat Success at States

On November 5, the boys and girls cross country teams competed in the SCVAL League Championships at Crystal Springs. The boys extended their season-long dominance, winning SCVALs for the fourth year in a row, while the girls placed fourth against three extremely competitive Division I teams. Both teams’ runners recorded the largest number and highest percentage of personal records of the last five years.
This latest success caps off a record-breaking season. From early-season league meets to numerous invitationals, cross country has made a steady ascension to the top. Following a string of strong early-season performances, girls and boys varsity went on to record the fastest and second fastest team times in school history at the Clovis Invite in Fresno on October 12.
Both varsity teams repeated this feat soon after at the Mt. Sac Invite on October 25 and 26. In addition to setting a new school record, boys varsity placed first in the Division II race with an unprecedented finish of seven runners in the top 17.  The girls’ placed second among Division II competitors while seven of the nine runners recorded PRs for the course. Sophomore Lauren Jacob ran the fastest girls’ time in school history for that course. These are but two of the team’s record-breaking performances to date, which the team seems to have accumulated with ease.
The success of this season, however, has not come without its challenges. In addition to losing considerable senior leadership, some of the team’s top runners, such as senior Terence Rabuzzi, have been unable to compete on account of injury. Terence, boys varsity’s top runner last year, was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter’s disease during last year’s track season and could not compete this year.
Fortunately, the Eagles have benefitted from a surprising depth of underclassmen and consistent performances by team veterans.
“We [seniors] have the leadership role but the sophomores are really pulling us forward,” senior Dane Tippett said. “I think without any one of them we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”
The girls’ side has improved significantly as well. Two years ago, there were only two athletes who ran a 5K time of under 22 minutes. Today there are 10.
“I’m definitely very happy with how the team is,” head coach Dan Oren said. “It’s making everybody believe in each other…It makes everyone better when you have a lot of good people on the team.”
Now, on the cusp of repeating last year’s post-season success, both varsity teams look to advance farther than ever before. As of press time, if they place in the top three at CCS, they will qualify for the CIF State Championships, which will take place on November 30 at Woodward Park. Last year, the boys placed ninth overall for Division II, while the girls placed 18th.
Despite an excellent run so far, the season’s full potential has yet to be determined.
“In terms of having reached our goals we just don’t know yet,” Oren said. “[But] I think we’re in the perfect place to do as well as we were hoping to do.”