Sports teams make strides practicing on weekends September 28, 2022 — by Sunny Cao Photo by Kathy TippettsThe varsity cross country team poses for a photo after the RAM invitational on Sept. 25. Cross country and boys’ water polo take advantage of extra time on weekends to prepare for games and meets. Visit the school on a typical weekend this fall, and you’ll see the cross country team stepping into their running shoes, the boys’ water polo team getting ready to jump in the pool and the girls’ volleyball team hiking up their knee pads. Cross country: Early morning runs Saturday mornings, the cross country team practices at 6:45 or 7 a.m. in the morning — sometimes at the school track, but often on nearby trails like Sanborn Park. Many of the runners’ favorite trails include the 5-mile Montalvo trail and the Narnia trail, a quick 2.9-mile-run that features a path reminiscent of the world of Narnia. On a typical practice day, athletes warm up with some light lifting in the weight room, followed by running and conditioning activities such as Oregan drills — where athletes run in “S” shapes on the field — or Ladders, a conditioning exercise where runners sprint 200 meters and then jog 300 on the track. Other weekend practice days include running five miles on the track. Senior Jenny Chan said cross country coach Ian Tippetts keeps students motivated during weekend training by mixing up the runs. “He’s dedicated because he uses his weekend to drive us to different trails and he does a lot of research on running form and quick practices to help people become faster runners,” Chan said. Boys’ water polo: Bonding and conditioning During their longer Saturday practices, the boys on the water polo team work on improving skills that they usually don’t get to cover in normal weekday practices. Besides practicing in the water, the team also does dryland training — intense conditioning exercises outside the pool — to build endurance and stamina. For example, the team ran four miles recently as a conditioning exercise, going from Saratoga High to downtown, then Redwood Middle School and finally back to the school. “It was pretty intense, but it was also an amazing experience as I had never done something like this before. I really enjoyed going through the run with my teammates,” said sophomore Tarun Ramakrishnan, a member of the JV water polo team. The athletes hope to hone in on their weaknesses, particularly improving their ability to focus and communicate in the pool during games. “We’re definitely improving from where we started and can only get better from here,” Ramankrishnan said.