Boys’ cross country: Future looks bright for seniors, team

December 8, 2010 — by Brandon Judoprasetijo and Vijay Menon

Running in the state meet last month, senior Kyle Fukui found himself in an unaccustomed position: in the middle of the pack and struggling to keep pace.

“State was amazing,” said Fukui. “I was in the back middle of the pack when I came through the first mile at 5:03. I’ve never experienced a race quite that fast, where I can’t even manage the top half of the group.”

According to Fukui—who finished the 3.1 mile Woodward Park course with a time of 17:13, placing 144th out of 205 runners—this situation forced him to adopt new strategies to keep up with the pack.

“It’s a totally different mentality being in the back,” he said. “When you’re in the front, you look for the next guy and try to pick him off one by one since there’s such a big gap between runners. But when you’re packed in the back, it takes more effort. If you pick the wrong time to make your move, you could get left in the dust.”

The season came to an end for the boys team with the culmination of the state meet on Nov. 27. Although they only managed to send Fukui to the premier event, the squad is proud of their performance under the first year leadership of coach Dan Ambrico.

Prior to the state meet, the runners prepared for the CCS Finals on Nov. 13 at Toro Park.

“Training for CCS was fun because only varsity had to train for the event,” said Fukui. “This meant that it was less crowded.”

Fukui placed 11th out of 93 runners with a time of 17:07 on the 3-mile course, enough to ensure a spot in the state meet. Fellow senior Garrick Chan crossed the finish line five seconds later, placing 15th. He missed the cut to the state meet by only one second.

Although Chan considered his close failure to qualify to state as the “lowlight” of his season, he was proud of the team.

“Everyone improved a lot from a tough last season,” said Chan. “[Fukui] qualified to state, and I received DAL All-League Honors. These feats are impressive, especially with Coach Dan Ambrico being in his first year.”

Fukui and Chan contributed most to the team’s overall success this season. Both feel that a variety of unfortunate factors, such as injuries, hampered the rest of the squad.

“There is a big gap between me and [Fukui] combined and the rest of the team,” said Chan. “We also received injuries to sophomore David Zarrin and freshman Sam Guy.”

If the team can recuperate from injuries over the next couple of years, there is hope that they can still be competitive and send future runners to state.

“The freshman twins [Will and Sam Guy] are upcoming stars who look like they will be fast in years to come,” said Fukui. “Next year will probably be a slower recovery year, though, unless [Zarrin] can overcome the differences in his body since he started growing.”

Chan was more optimistic in terms of the team’s future outlook.

“I think [we] will be at [our] finest,” said Chan. “I can see them at the prestigious Nike Cross Country Invitational in a few years. After [the seniors] graduate, the team will be lead by promising underclassmen.”

Chan is also impressed by the incoming freshman class. In particular, eighth grader Steven Sum seems “promising.”

According to Chan, Sum ran a 4:59 mile and finished third at the cross country National Junior Olympics as a seventh grader. He will run at this year’s National Junior Olympics as well. His addition to the team next season bodes well for its future prospects.

Although their crosscountry careers at Saratoga are over, Fukui and Chan are both planning to continue running in college. Chan does not know where he will attend next season, but hopes to sign by June. Fukui also plans to keep running next year.

“I will continue running in college, even if it is only for a club,” said Fukui. “If I get into a D-II or D-III school, then I will definitely run for the team. If not, then I’ll do club.”

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