El Estoque

Cross country: Team grabs victory at CCS

In+the+morning+at+Toro+Park+on+Nov.+15%2C+the+gun+goes+off+and+the+varsity+boys+launches+off+of+the+starting+line.+Varsity+boys+ran+first+at+10+a.m.%2C+followed+by+the+varsity+girls+at+10%3A30+a.m.+Photo+by+Sharon+Tung.
In the morning at Toro Park on Nov. 15, the gun goes off and the varsity boys launches off of the starting line. Varsity boys ran first at 10 a.m., followed by the varsity girls at 10:30 a.m. Photo by Sharon Tung.

In the morning at Toro Park on Nov. 15, the gun goes off and the varsity boys launches off of the starting line. Varsity boys ran first at 10 a.m., followed by the varsity girls at 10:30 a.m. Photo by Sharon Tung.

In the morning at Toro Park on Nov. 15, the gun goes off and the varsity boys launches off of the starting line. Varsity boys ran first at 10 a.m., followed by the varsity girls at 10:30 a.m. Photo by Sharon Tung.

Sharon Tung

In the morning at Toro Park on Nov. 15, the gun goes off and the varsity boys launches off of the starting line. Varsity boys ran first at 10 a.m., followed by the varsity girls at 10:30 a.m. Photo by Sharon Tung.

In the morning at Toro Park on Nov. 15, the gun goes off and the varsity boys launches off of the starting line. Varsity boys ran first at 10 a.m., followed by the varsity girls at 10:30 a.m. Photo by Sharon Tung.

 

It was a clear day in Salinas, but the tension ran thick at Toro Park.

“I feel excited and nervous,” senior Rohan Choudhury said. “Nervous, because this is a big race.”

In one of the most important races of the cross country season, runners competed at CCS for the top spots against 16 other schools on Nov. 15 to move on to the California State Championships. Varsity girls seized second place, after Homestead High School, and are moving on to state championships. Senior Jenny Xu was second to cross the finish line for the varsity girls race. As a team, the girls ran the fifth fastest time ever recorded at Toro Park.

“I thought we ran well,” senior Christina Jennings said. “We ran close to each other and we were all in the top twenties.”

Varsity boys received sixth place, after Carlmont High School. Choudhury won sixth as the first MVHS boy to cross the finish line, and ran the second fastest time ever recorded for a MVHS boy at Toro Park. Six out of the seven boys on the team set personal records on this course.

The team had a successful race. It was a season of afterschool training and weekend running that prepared the varsity team for the upcoming challenges at CCS. Many factors posed difficulties for the team on the course. Only the highest ranking runners from the SCVAL League Championships move on to CCS, so the varsity boys faced aggressive competitors from schools such as Bellarmine High School, whose runners ran together ahead of their competitors.

The weather was a mild 67 degrees, but the course itself was enough to make a runner collapse. At the hills, the incline was so steep that some runners who were ahead resorted to walking.

“I never get the hang of this course,” Choudhury said.  “It’s really weird.”

Sophomore Andrew Ma speeds up on the dirt tracks ahead of other runners. Ma ran a time of 19:21 at a 6:18 pace. Photo by Sharon Tung.

Sophomore Andrew Ma speeds up on the dirt tracks ahead of other runners. Ma ran a time of 19:21 at a 6:18 pace. Photo by Sharon Tung.

Senior Jenny Xu runs up a hill mid-way through the race. The course had many hills that challenged the endurance of the runners. Photo by Sharon Tung.

Senior Jenny Xu runs up a hill mid-way through the race. The course had many hills that challenged the endurance of the runners. Photo by Sharon Tung.

Gunn High School coach Pattisue Plumer is good friends with MVHS coach Kirk Flatow, and the two cross country teams have always measured themselves against each other. In 2012, MVHS ranked sixth and Gunn High School ranked seventh and in 2013, MVHS first and GHS second. MVHS ranked second and GHS ranked third this year, and running 20 seconds slower would have kept MVHS from making it to State Championships.

“We’re second place, but we think we should have won,” Flatow said. “I’m proud of these kids. It’s a killer when you say we almost won, but there are 128 teams in CCS that would trade places with us to be second.”

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Senior Rohan Choudhury stands next to all the top runners at the awards ceremony. The first six runners to cross the finish line receive a medal. Photo by Sharon Tung.

The varsity girls poses with the plaque that they received as the second fastest team at CCS. They will be moving on to the State Championships on Nov. 29. Photo by Sharon Tung.

The varsity girls poses with the plaque that they received as the second fastest team at CCS. They will be moving on to the State Championships on Nov. 29. Photo by Sharon Tung.

After all the varsity races, the team surprised sophomore Parvathi Meyyappan with a carrot cake to celebrate her birthday. Flatow and the runners often describe themselves as a big cross country family. Photo by Sharon Tung.

After all the varsity races, the team surprised sophomore Parvathi Meyyappan with a carrot cake to celebrate her birthday. Flatow and the runners often describe themselves as a big cross country family. Photo by Sharon Tung.

The next meet is the California State Championships at Fresno on Nov. 29.