Runners aim to finish with their best foot forward November 12, 2014 — by Ashley Chen and Katherine Sun After three months of hard work racing at invitationals and league meets, the cross country team is now preparing for CCS Finals, a 3-mile race at Toro Park in Salinas on Nov. 15. After three months of hard work racing at invitationals and league meets, the cross country team is now preparing for CCS Finals, a 3-mile race at Toro Park in Salinas on Nov. 15. The boys’ and girls’ teams qualified for the meet by default as the only Division III teams in the area. Each team will send seven runners to compete in the race. The top three teams at CCS, and individual runners who rank fifth place or better, excluding students who qualify through their team, will advance to the state meet on Nov. 29 at 3.1-mile Woodward Park. Both teams hope to improve upon their performances from the De Anza League Finals, which were held on Nov. 4 at the 2.95-mile Crystal Springs course. In the boys’ race, senior Steven Sum finished second with a personal record of 15:14, barely losing to Los Gatos senior Chris Foster, who finished at 15:11. Senior Andrew Harter finished sixth with a personal record of 15:52 and junior Steven Law finished 16th with a personal record of 16:10. In the girls’ race, senior Carolyn Qi came in at 20:25 to take 23rd place. The boys’ team is aiming to qualify for the state meet as a group. Last year, they fell just short, placing fourth at CCS. This year, however, they have run many more miles each practice and have used the weight room twice a week. “[Through weight training, the team is] improving stride efficiency, building muscle to close out races stronger and just getting more fit in general,” coach Dan Ambrico said. They also competed well at the Oct. 17 Roughrider Invitational, which is hosted at Woodward Park. Sum set a personal record by more than 30 seconds to finish first with a time of 15:20. Had he achieved that time in the 2013 state meet, he would have placed seventh instead of 14th. Harter and Law finished 16th and 19th with times of 16:34 and 16:38. On Oct. 21, both teams raced at the 3.1-mile Baylands Park Invitational. The boys’ varsity team took a relaxed approach to the meet; Sum, Harter and Law did not finish the race. The girls’ varsity team was led by Qi and junior Kimberly Chen, who finished 33rd and 39th with times of 21:37 and 21:45. Qi, who missed the Oct. 2 Crystal Springs meet with chronic shin splints and a rolled ankle, said she saw Baylands as the “official start” of her final cross country season. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to do, because I hadn’t trained in a long time, so when I [crossed] the finish line, I was extremely elated that I was physically able to run again,” Qi said. “Even though I did not [get a personal record], I am happy I’ve started to get back on my feet and train with the team.” The girls’ team focused on cardiovascular work during the first half of the season, but they have shifted their attention to speed workouts lately. “We [started off the season] getting people out and running longer runs,” coach Danny Moon said. “Now we’re tuning the body so that we can have faster leg turnover. Speed workouts give you that racing instinct, that ‘killer’ instinct [to help you] finish strong.” Moon said the team also plans to run more hill repeats in order to prepare for CCS. Many girls on the varsity team injured themselves near the beginning of the season, including Qi and seniors Valerie Lensch and Christine Schlossareck. However, the team has improved overall due to tougher training and more hard working athletes. “Our team’s goal is to work together and motivate each other to make it through the season. Running five to seven miles every day can really wear [you] out,” Qi said. “Injuries are extremely common and the pain is hard to overcome at times.” Qi said that her biggest hope is to “finish the season with a bang.” “I want to run CCS with the girls I have been running with for the past four years,” Qi said. “We joined the team to compete, and at the end of the day, it isn’t about the times we got, but that we got them together.” At CCS, the boys’ team will be represented by Sum, Harter, Law, senior Rohith Krishna, juniors Matthew Peterson and Kevin Duong-le and sophomore Nicholas Sum. The girls’ team consists of Qi, Chen, Schlossareck, Lensch, junior Ashley Chen and freshman Allison Borch and Lillian Zeng.