Let's start with Nico Young, because - well - bloody hell! The fastest high school cross country runner in US history smashed his own Riverside course record by around 30 seconds at CIF Southern Section Finals today, coming in at a phenomenal 13:54.1 and sending Newbury Park straight to the top of the list of favorites for State Finals next weekend at Fresno!
Sadly, our Warrior boys and girls won’t be joining them this year.
But both teams ran strong races and came in at a highly respectable 10th and 13th place in CIF Southern Section Division 2, against some of the fastest teams in the state.
The girls ran the very first race of the day at 7:45am, aiming to better their already impressive performance last week. And for the most part, it was mission accomplished. Sarah Klem ran to a sub-18:30 finish, followed swiftly by Alison Ho who had a fantastic race coming in at 18:41, Sierra Shaver hot on her heels less than a second later. Unfortunately for Mia Washida, she had some incredible bad luck with a thorn in her shoe that slowed her down considerably for her last mile, coming in just over 19 minutes with scowl on her face and a hole in her toe! Maddie Zavala, Lauren Tsai and Sarah Sandoval brought the team home, and Athlete of the Article has to be Lauren, who after a season plagued by injury managed to regain her letter for this year in her final race, coming in at 19:56.7.
The boys also ran their hearts out against the likes of Newbury Park, Dana Hills, Claremont and multiple-time State Champions Loyola, led by Ryan Welton with a mid-15’s finish. Will Talbert, Joseph Moon, and Russell Stottlemyer all came in sub-16 and John and James Pantigoso and Ken Kakutani brought the team home with low-16’s finishes.
So. It’s the end of the season and the end of the road for our Warriors this year. But there are so many take-aways from this season, it's hard to know where to start! The continuous improvement in all the runners, the sheer talent, the gutsy attacks on some really difficult courses, against some of the fastest runners in the country, can’t go unmentioned.
Sarah Klem is now running sub-18 and on the Woodbridge All-Time Best list. Sierra Shaver will graduate with full running honors and will be sorely missed, making a critical contribution to her varsity team every season over her high school cross country career. Sarah Sandoval will graduate with her cross country letter in hand and her leap when she achieved it immortalized in this news feed! Madeleine Zavala will be the team veteran next year and hopefully putting her vast competing experience to best use leading the team in her senior year. Lauren Tsai, quite possibly the bravest runner of the season, can walk (or run!) proud following her stunning return to form from injury. Mia Washida is running a whole minute faster than last year, with a PR soooo close to sub-18 and her eyes fixed on the prize of a 17’s time next season. And Alison Ho – just WOW! She came from nowhere to blast through the varsity line up with an amazing finish today at finals, cementing her position as a key member of the varsity girls team. She should be very, VERY happy with her season!
Among the boys, we need to say goodbye to no less than FOUR of our varsity runners! Will Talbert – who started 9th grade with a PR of 17:24, and ended his senior year at 15:13. Take note, freshman boys! Ken Kakutani – who went from 19:03 in his freshman year, down to 16:04 last season as an all-time PR and a valuable member of varsity. Nihon de ganbatte kudasai! James and John Pantigoso – “the 15’s twins” – secret confession – some of us still don’t know which one is which! You will leave a double-hole in the team next year.
Luckily we still get to keep hold of the amazing Ryan Welton for one more year, and that’s just as well, because we all want to be there when you run that 1/10 of a second faster and FINALLY sub-15! No pressure Ryan, but we are all expecting it next season! We also get to keep speed-demon / fashion-model Russell Stottlemyer for one more year, whose PR pattern from 9th to 11th grade has gone “17s..16s..15s..” – what comes next Russell?! And finally, we can expect to see the smiley face of Joseph Moon lining up for varsity next year, hopefully alongside some the new talent coming up from the Sophomore and Junior pool (looking at YOU guys Bryce, Youssef, Carter A and Carter C!).
To all the rest of the Cross Country athletes: thank you all for such an amazing season! Your hard work, dedication, and determination are a joy to witness. We celebrate all your achievements with you; feel all your disappointments for you. We cheer you on from the sidelines and you make us proud, week after week. Cross Country has a reputation for being a “great group”. It is all of YOU that make this sport what it is. Thank you to the experienced Junior and Senior athletes that provide such great mentorship for the new runners. Thank you to the freshmen and Sophomore boys and girls that work so hard to improve and set the stage for the future of Woodbridge High XC. You are all a credit to your team, your friends, and your school.
Thank you to "Team Moms" Mrs. Talbert and Mrs. Billings who mentor the other parents!
Finally, thank you to the coaches who bring out the very best in our kids. Coach Pacheco, Coach Castanha, Coach Varvas, Coach Bianca and Coach Julie – you take them to levels they don’t believe possible, instill confidence in them, and exhaust them to the point that they don’t have the energy to get up to any no good teenager antics! For that we are always grateful!!!
Enjoy the banquet on December 2nd, 6-10pm. See you all next season! GO WARRIORS!