Cross country set to make strong comeback this season

September 9, 2021 — by Sara Bright and Carolyn Wang
Photo by Courtesy of Elizabeth Stoiber
Girls cross country captains explain a run to early session one athletes

Head Coach: Danny Moon (girls) and Ian Tippetts (boys)

Last year’s record: The team did not run any official meets.

Recap: The girls and boys cross country teams ran together in a shorter season last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Key Meets: League Meet at Crystal Springs on Nov. 2

Star Players: For the girls, top finishers are likely to include sophomore Sara Bright, junior Elizabeth Stoiber, junior Elsa Blom, junior Isha Goswami and senior Amoli Vanavadiya; for the boys, senior Harrison Dance is setting the pace along with, sophomore George Hu, juniors Anand Agrawal and Wasil Khan 

Key Additions: Freshman Anisha Rahut and Hillary Gonzalez (girls), Caleb Yu and Pranav Rajan (boys)

Key Losses to Graduation: Kristen Hung, Charlotte Shewchuck (girls), Niyanth Rao and Bryan Young (boys)

League: De Anza

Prognosis:

After having a shortened combined season last spring without official meets, the cross country teams are enjoying a fresh start in the 2021-22 season. Coach Danny Moon will lead the girls’ team for the 13th year, and Ian Tippetts will continue to coach the boys’ team.

Last year, both teams were limited to competing with one or two other schools, many of whom had limited or no JV teams.

“We had races inside the school last year that were basically loops around the campus, which were fun,” said senior Amoli Vanavadiya, a co-captain for the girls’ team. “Still, it’s nice to come back this year with more variety.” 

While the boys’ team has seen a significant decrease in participation from the 2019 season, with only 18 runners in total between JV and varsity, the girls team has 53 runners, a number that roughly matches pre-pandemic levels of participation.

“We have a really solid team this year, especially on varsity,” said junior Elizabeth Stoiber, another one of the girls’ co-captains. A majority of the juniors who had run CCS in freshman year, including Stoiber, junior Elsa Blom and junior Isha Goswami, have returned this season.

On the boys team, star player and boys co-captain Dance, who has been a strong asset to the team since his freshman year, continues to lead by example. Previously on June 19, Dance placed third for the 1600 meter with a time of 4:12 during the 2021 track season’s CCS Finals. 

New key additions to varsity like sophomores Sara Bright and George Hu, who ran cross country during the restricted 2021-22 seasons, as well as freshmen Anisha Rahut, Hilary Gonzalez, Caleb Yu and Pranav Rajan, have also strengthened the team.

Currently, girls’ practices typically involve a mixture of 3- to 5-mile runs, including exercises such as Oregon Drills and core workouts. Boys’ practices have also implemented regular weight training and 7- to 9-mile weekend runs on top of their weekday practices.

“For our returners, the goal is for them to get faster,” said Kathy Tippetts, the assistant boys’ coach. “A lot of them have put in the miles over the summer and you can already see that.” 

To get athletes back into shape, working on speed through interval workouts and hill repeats, which involve running fast for certain amounts of time with purposeful rests in between, is a priority for both teams.

“I want everyone to get their feet back on the ground again since we had a whole year off due to COVID-19,” Moon said. “My goal for the team is to get everybody through the league meet without being injured.”

Although there have not been any mask restrictions so far, both teams anticipate masks to be strongly recommended during meets for anyone not actively participating in races. The teams are also continuing to host combined team nights, to encourage team bonding, create a high-spirited environment and most importantly, foster a love for the sport.

“I just want them to enjoy running,” Kathy Tippetts said. “That’s the goal — to push these kids to become lifelong runners.” 

The girls team ran their first meet in Lynbrook high school on Tuesday Sept. 7. The boys will run their first meet in San Francisco’s Lowell Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 11.

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