If you have never run a high school cross country race before debuting at the Early Bird Invitational is like learning how to swim by jumping into the deep end. With over 2000 runners from over 50 schools you have to learn quickly or you will literally be eating dust.
It can be intimidating as a first year runner. You don't know the course, or what it means to really push yourself and hurt for three miles. You've heard rumors of a “big hill” at the half way point and don't know what to expect. To top it off the race starts and people sprint away like it is the 100 meter Olympic final.
The Warriors were a quick study as the "rookies" were exceptional in their first race Saturday at the Early Bird Invitational held at Toro Park in Salinas. Running to a top 20 finish in the freshman boys race Jeremy Dong had a solid debut earning recognition on the Warriors’ All-Time list, finishing as the second fastest freshman in school history. “I felt great,” Jeremy said reflecting on his race. “When you first start off, the adrenaline is coursing through your body and you get butterflies in your stomach. But once it starts you just go, you focus your mind on the course and the guy in front of you. You are always pushing and when you get tired you tell yourself that today is the day and just go faster.”
Another stellar performance came from first year runner Nathan Lynch. Joining the team his sophomore year, Lynch has only been running for three weeks but his impact has also been immediate. Running 18:28 for the 3 mile Toro park course he finished in the Warriors top 5 scoring runners helping them down the team record by nearly a minute set by last year’s team. “It felt great, the weather was good and everybody was stoked,” Lynch said. “Over all the race was great, although I'm sure we all felt we could do better leaving room for improvement it was very rewarding.”
Other outstanding debut performances came from sophomores Matt Lundy, Tejas Reddy and freshman Dean DeMoss. “We have a good group of freshman and sophomores this year.” Coach Small said. “If they work hard and focus in the next few years they could be very competitive. Right now it is up to them.”
Another new member to this year’s team is senior Amy Reyes. Finishing amongst the top 5 scoring runners she also earned recognition on the team’s all-time list. Leia Wang, Morgan Starkey and Vanessa Giacalone also had solid showings for their first race adding great depth to this year’s team.
Now with their first official race over the team mixes it up this weekend running in the RLS Cross Country Relays in Pebble Beach. Each runner will run a 1.5 mile leg on teams of five.