Harder practices encourage boys’ cross country to reach their full potential

September 24, 2019 — by Nicole Lu and Cici Xu

Five hundred miles and countless hours of weight room training later, the boys on the cross country team are running with hopeful ambitions and high morale.

The team was fortunate enough to not have lost any of their core members to graduation, and speedy sophomore Harrison Dance, as well as other accomplished runners, have returned for another season. Given the especially strong lineup this year, the team is aiming to qualify for the California State Championships; this is the first time they have entertained this chance in four years. 

“So far in the season, I feel pretty solid about the team,” senior captain Shivam Verma said.                                                                                              

In fact, they are on track to reach their goal. The varsity team claimed third place during a meet on Sept. 7 at the Stevenson Relay Invitational, in which 16 other teams, including Lynbrook and Archbishop Mitty High School, competed in. 

Dance, junior Niyanth Rao, and seniors Verma, Kole Tippetts, and Jonathan Zhao represented the varsity team, each running 1.6 miles in this 8-mile race. Verma and Dance ran times of approximately 7:49; Rao ran 8:35, and Zhao and Tippetts both ran times of 8:55 for an estimated total of 42:16.

Varsity meets at Half Moon Bay High School for the Oct. 5 Artichoke Invitational and the annual Mt. SAC Invitational at Mt. San Antonio College on Oct. 19 looming ahead, the team has been putting more emphasis on building chemistry and working on their aerobic capacity. In addition, the team will compete at Crystal Springs for the Oct. 8 league meet, a mandatory competition for the entire team. 

Some of the primary factors that led to their success at the Stevenson Invitational compared to previous years was their new mindset and intense physical regimen.

In order to train for these courses, the team runs anywhere from 50 to 60 miles every week, even in the blistering heat, which is intended to build endurance for the tough meets that the team will have to run later in the year.

The boys begin practice with a half-mile jog and various stretches before heading off on various Saratoga trails. In order to build up speed, varsity usually drives off to Rancho San Antonio or Fremont Older Space to train. After their two-hour workouts, the boys head to the weight room twice per week, where they stay until 6:30 p.m. 

“Conditioning is kind of necessary. If you really want to put in the work, it will eventually pay off,” Zhao said. 

Running is just one aspect of the cross country experience. In order to further encourage friendships and communication among the runners, Verma and fellow captain Tippetts also plan on hosting team get-togethers throughout the season such as potlucks and game nights. 

“We talk on the slow and easy runs with each other, and I drive a bunch of people on the team around to get Jamba Juice at least three times a week,” Verma said.

This team bonding has helped cultivate unity in an otherwise intense and competitive environment, especially in the varsity ranks. 

With all the boys excited and looking to compete at the state level, spirits are high. 

“Practices are really rowdy, [but there hasn’t been much fooling around],” Tippetts said. “Everyone cares a lot about the team and about how we're eventually going to end up. I think it'll definitely work itself out by the time we get done this season.”

Both captains say they are heading in the right direction.

“I’m really excited for the team we have right now,” Verma said. “It’s been the strongest it’s ever been since I’ve come here, and I think we have a really good shot at making and performing well at states this year.”

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