Dance and Verma to run at state championship meet

November 25, 2019 — by Nitya Marimuthu

Sophomore Harry Dance knew he was not supposed to look back at his competition as he ran in the Division III CCS cross country race at Crystal Springs on Nov. 16. His coach, Ian Tippetts, had told him he should look forward and keep running. Part way through the race, Dance took the lead and followed his coach’s advice all the way to a first-place finish, outpacing the 75 other competitors with a time of 15:47.41 over the 2.95 mile long course. The runner who placed second, Elliot Daniels from Prospect High School, ran a time of 16:07:06, finishing almost exactly 30 seconds after Dance. 

“I knew it was going to be a tough race,” Dance said. “There were a few guys in there who I thought would beat me, and they didn’t. So when I looked back, I was just happy that I won by about 20 seconds.”

As a result of the win, Dance will race at the state cross country championship meet along with his teammate, senior Shivam Verma, who placed third with a time of 16:14.29. That race will take place Nov. 30 in at Woodward Park in Fresno, a 5000 meters (3.11 miles) long course that is much flatter than notoriously hilly Crystal Springs.

The SHS boys’ team placed fifth out of the nine teams, missing the cutoff for the state meet by seven points (about 11 runner’s places or around 15 seconds, according to Verma). 

Dance’s goal for the state race is to run a 15:50 or place in the top 15 in Division III. 

There are 24 teams as well as a number of individuals who will compete in Fresno. Last year, there were 204 runners who ran in the DIII race. 

To adapt to this increased number of runners, Verma said he will have to change his pacing style by running much quicker in the beginning to avoid getting stuck behind the many runners. 

“I could get caught back really easily and then the race could be over from the start,” Verma said. “So I’m going to have to run a lot faster in the beginning and I have to hope that I just don’t die out in the end.”

Along with this tactic, Verma said he is “not going to attack” the uphills as much as usual; rather, he will maintain his pace and use the downhills to pass people instead. 

Dance added that he might try to scout out some of the runners and see where his time fits in. He said he tries not to rely on this information to figure out his pacing, but he finds it helpful to know which runners he should be surrounded by.

In addition, Coach Tippetts has modified their training style to prepare for the state meet. Verma said the runs are shorter now and are more focused on keeping the two in shape rather than pushing them so their “legs feel more fresh” for the upcoming race. 

“At this point we aren’t going to get any faster, it’s just about staying healthy,” Verma said.