They came, they saw, they did what they had to do. And the Varsity Girls and Boys Cross Country Teams did us all proud this morning representing WHS at the Riverside course for CIF Prelims.
The girls lined up first on the start line at 7:55am, alongside some of the best high school teams in Southern California, earning their spot in Division 2 Heat 2 at Riverside after league finals at Mason Park last Thursday. The gun fired, the almost 200-strong field surged forwards into the starting strait, newly watered down to avoid the dust of previous weeks, and it became apparent pretty quickly that something special was about to go down with our girls!
Sarah Klem led the team, looking relaxed and confident just behind the main front pack in the field. Sierra Shaver, Mia Washida, Maddie Zavala and Alison Ho followed just behind in a tight group, with Sarah Sandoval and Lauren Tsai completing the line up. The girls ran a strong, strategic race, gelling together as a team, and as the race progressed, each found their pace and settled into their stride.
At the finish, the yellow vests seemed to pour across the line one after the other! Four of our top five finished sub-19 and within the top 35 individuals, all within 19 seconds of each other, perfectly executing the planned pack strategy. Our 5th and 6th girls were sub-20 and our final girl ran an incredibly gutsy 20:02, just back from long term injury on an extremely challenging course.
Athlete of the Article without a shadow of a doubt is the wonderful Sarah Sandoval. Not only did she nail herself a PR on this ridiculously difficult course, and not only did she do it in the final competition of her senior year, AND not only did she also go sub-20 for the first time, gaining herself a much-deserved letter, but she also celebrated her triumph with the most incredible leap into the air that anyone has ever seen on a finish line. Way to end on a high - literally! Big congratulations!!!
Our girls finished 5th in their heat, easily qualifying for CIF Southern Section Finals next week.
As the girls came away from the finish line with huge smiles on their faces, the boys lined up on the start line with their own job to do. And they were clearly not going to let the girls get all the glory!
After another strong start, our gilets jaunes put on their own demonstration, and showed Southern California just what they've got to say.
Ryan Welton led the team for the entire race, finishing 13th out of a field of 177. Will Talbert came in close behind him followed by Joseph Moon, giving us three top 40 finishers all sub-16. Russell Stottlemyer, James and John Pantigoso and Ken Kakutani all crossed the line in the very low 16's, equalling the girl's performance with a 5th place team finish and their own spot at CIF Finals next week. Joseph was heard before the start of the race saying "This is going to be fun!" He wasn't kidding!
So now there is only one thing left we can ask of these athletes:
Cross Country Varsity Boys and Girls - you know everything that you did today? Do it again next week please!