Cross Country: Boys lose key seniors, gain new coaches

September 8, 2009 — by Vijay Menon and Jordan Waite

Despite the loss of several key team members and the promotion of former assistant coach Dan Hodgins to head coach, the boys’ cross country still has high expectations for a great season.

The team’s two strongest runners, alumni Alan Menezes and Kian Banks, graduated last year, a big loss for the team considering the talents the duo brought to the squad. The team will also having to deal with the loss of seniors Kyle Borch and Nick Olsen and sophomore Harry Curtis, who elected not to participate this year.

“I wish we had a stronger team,” said varsity runner junior Kyle Fukui, “but I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to place in CCS.”

Because of these key absences, the remaining varsity members are now being forced to step up their contributions to the team. Although the varsity team has not yet been finalized, Fukui and fellow junior Garrick Chan, promising freshman David Zarrin and senior captain Joe Stevens will anchor this year’s squad.

“Since we lost those guys, [we] all push each other harder in the workouts,” said Chan.

The team is also having to deal with injuries. Zarrin has a knee problem and Chan has missed some action with Osgood-Schlatter disease, a condition that causes knee pain due to growth spurts. Despite these factors, Chan insists that the team is “ready.”

Hodgins, now in his new role as head coach, and assistant coach Megan Fish are getting the team pumped up for the new season with exercises such as the Kenyan Core, a strength building drill. Hodgins is an experienced runner who works out with the team, and Fish is the muscular training coach.

“The new coaches are great,” said Zarrin. “I really like how [Hodgins] goes on runs with us and acts like a part of the team.”

The boys recently competed in the Marshall Clark run on Aug. 22. Runners who competed for SHS include Fukui, who placed 17th overall with a time of 25:03 on the four-mile course, Zarrin, who placed 24th overall with a time of 25:57 and Hodgins, who came in close behind Fukui and Zarrin. This was not a league meet but a recreational run honoring a former Saratoga cross country coach.

“We were racing against a lot of college kids,” said Fukui, “but I think the people [from SHS] who went did pretty well.”

The main events the team is training for are the League and CCS meets. Other important races are the San Francisco RAM on Sept. 22, the Artichoke Invitational in Half Moon Bay on Sept. 27 and the SARA invitational in Crystal Springs on Oct. 10.  

“I’m really excited for these upcoming meets,” said Fukui. “It’s going to be a challenge to compete at such a high caliber.”

While the team is confident of making CCS, their ultimate goal for the season is to make state.
   

“Last year we were close, but missed by 27 points,” said Chan. “We have to get fourth place [this year at CCS].”

The Falcons run in the De Anza League, which is the lesser of the two leagues in the Bay Area. Teams with which they are in close competition with are Prospect and Sacred Heart Prep.

“[Prospect and Sacred Heart] have good teams,” said Fukui. “We’ll have to work really hard if we want to beat them.”

Hodgins has the team training six days a week so they’re ready for their tough upcoming season. Weekdays are hard, with speed intervals and hill repeats on Mondays and Tuesday, followed by a medium run and weight workout on Wednesday and a speed workout on Thursday.  The weekend is a little more relaxing; Friday is an easy day and Saturday is a long-distance run at Rancho San Antonio park in Mountain View.
    
“We’re doing good level workouts for the beginning of the season,” said Zarrin. “The training is definitely helping out the team.”