Monday, September 3, 2012

Depth is Key for Strong Showing at 2012 Watermelon Run

The Warriors season got underway Saturday and a record was broken before the runners took their first stride: it was the largest number of runners to ever toe the starting line! 

The Watermelon Run is a 2.08 mile team time trial on the UCSC Campus and in it's 4th year saw over 50 runners finish this year's run.  It is an informal affair: runners, parents, siblings, coaches, alumni and anyone else interested can join in with the only stipulation being you hang out afterwards and enjoy some well earned watermelon.  Despite the low key atmosphere there is a competitive edge that shines through the cloud of dust that permeates the air after the hordes of runners have trampled by.  Adrenalin takes over, the desire to be number one finally has it's stage after months of summer training.  Athletes are eager to prove themselves, test their summer fitness and see where they stack up against against their teammates and where they were last year.

Running with something to prove was senior Eyobed Mesfun.  Putting in the miles this summer Mesfun trained with a purpose taking only a handful of days off that were specifically designated in his training schedule.  Running with the front pack through the first mile Mesfun shifted gears and crossed the line first in 12:23, the third fasted time in the four year history of the event.  His time drops nearly 55 seconds from his time a year ago, an impressive improvement that demonstrates the importance of summer.

"I didn't do to well at this race last year so winning it was a good start to the mental aspect of the season," Mesfun said referring to the fact he was throwing up at the starting line before last year's run and was not happy with his performance a year ago.  But to Mesfun the most exciting part of the day was how the team performed as a whole.  "Everyone on the guys varsity team looked good and I'm excited to see what they can do for the real race next week."

One of those solid performances came from Ryan Ensor, who continues to improve finishing every year faster than the prior.  After serving as a camp councilor at the Junior High Breakaway retreat the week prior, Ensor came back a little run down and under the weather.  Not using it as an excuse he toed the line and gave it his all running a personal best for the third consecutive year.  "I had a pretty good run this year, but I'm most happy to see great improvement from people like Alex and Eyobed as well as the new surprising talent that we have incoming this year."

The enthusiasm for this year's team is echoed not just by Mesfun and Ensor but all the returning veterans, "Why am I so happy?" Senior Alex Ascencio posted after the first day of practice.  "Because at Cross Country practice there were many new freshmen guys and girls out today!  I'm so happy, it's going to be a great season!"

Ascencio is another runner who has an edge to him this season, running with something to prove.  Whether motivated by the potential of this year's team or just excited by the turnout things are clicking at the start of the season for the senior, evidenced by a one minute improvement over last year's time.

The three seniors led a slew of "newbies" that make this year's team the deepest ever in school history.  The top 10 runners all earned marks on the all-time top 20 list, the majority of those coming from freshman and sophomores.  "In terms of age our Varsity team is as bipartisan as it gets with half seniors, half underclassman." Coach Small said of this year's team.  "It is a good sign for the future but it also means the younger runners need to have a steep learning curve."

Leading the charge of underclassman was freshman Jeremy Dong and sophomores Nathan Lynch and Jason Li.  While Li is a transfer who ran an impressive 17:30 last season as a freshman, Jeremy and Nathan are newcomers to the sport.  This trio along with sophomores Samual Han, Matt Lundy and David Ahmann make up one of the best Frosh-Soph groups in years. 

It was a solid showing for the Warriors, as they prepare to officially open their season this Saturday against over 2000 runners from over 50 schools at the Early Bird Invitational at Toro Park in Salinas. 

BOYS Results:
12:23  Eyobed Mesfun
12:54  Ryan Ensor
13:07  Alex Ascencio
13:13  Jeremy Dong
13:22  Nathan Lynch
13:37  Jason Li
14:22  Samual Han
14:34  Matt Lundy
14:51  Akhilesh Aji
14:53  David Ahmann
15:22  Dean DeMoss
15:45  Wilson Ye
16:37  Inigo Garcia
17:57  Alex Wang
18:55  Peter Enfantino
19:15  Zach Garcia

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