Friday, November 2, 2012

Warriors Rally Behind Teammate for WCAL Championship

Crystal Springs, Belmont – The Valley Christian Warriors began the championship portion of their season Wednesday at the WCAL Finals at Crystal Springs in Belmont.  The Girls team finished 6th led by Jessica Xu finishing in 9th place, earning all-WCAL honors.  The Boys team finished 7th led by Eyobed Mesfun in 23rd place in 16:50, which currently place him sixth all-time for the Warriors. 

The girls team advances to the CCS Championship by hitting the automatic qualifying time, the boys advance three individuals: Eyobed Mesfun, Alex Ascencio and Jeremy Dong.  

It has not been an easy year for the Warriors who have had to overcome their share of adversity.  The girls’ team lost two top runners early while the boys’ team lost a top runner in Nathan Lynch who was diagnosed with cancer in October.  “This season our runners have faced trials beyond training, life altering events that make running a personal best feel insignificant,” Coach Small said.   “The team has done well and remained focused.  The impact of these athletes goes well beyond what they can do for us on the course and are very involved members of our team.”

Before the WCAL Championship Nathan Lynch addressed the team on senior night, “Throughout the season, especially the first month, I kept looking for a reason that I was doing this.  Why was I running anywhere from 5 to 13 miles a day and attempting to make myself like it?  As time progressed I found reasons here and there that kept me going for the time being, but as the season went on I gained a wider more detailed view of what cross country is all about.  I discovered that I was running for a completely different reason entirely. I wasn’t running for myself, but for all of you.”

“Every single one of you makes it worthwhile to grind through the speed and hill workouts, the distance runs, the elevation training, and the morning practices. It is impossible to run by yourself and for yourself; you will never have any sort of training, or resistance workout, diet or mentality standing next to you on the line before a race, it’s your teammates that will be there cheering you on, and running the race with you.”

The Warriors rallied and what resulted was one of the best performances in school history.

For the first time the boys had all five scoring runners come in 17 minutes or under at the WCAL Championship.  All five boys earned recognition on the top 20 all-time list for the Warriors with the team setting a school record of combined time.  That was no small feat as last year’s team was led by CCS Champion Sean Davis.  It was a collective effort by all of the boys breaking last year’s mark by over a minute.

Records were not reserved for the Varsity runners as the Frosh-Soph boys also set a team record as three boys ran in the 18’s.  Dean DeMoss led the charge finishing in 18:31, a top mark for a freshman.  Sophomores Tejas Reddy (18:52), Samuel Han (18:59), Matt Lundy (19:17) and David Ahmann (19:26) all had breakthroughs of their own.

The girls were in a tight battle for WCAL bragging rights as 3 teams were separated by just 15 points.  Coming off of their 3rd place finish in WCAL #2 the Warriors slipped to 6th but easily hit the qualifying time. 

The race went out fast and left the pack scrambling.  Chasing from the start the Lady Warriors moved through the field throughout the last two miles.  Despite feeling sluggish and all four of the returning varsity girls dramatically improved their time from the year before.  Jessica Xu led the team finishing in the top 10 and was closely followed by Ashley Lara who has traded off top duties with Xu finishing 15th in 19:52.  It was a personal best for Lara who had even higher aspirations.  Kellianne Connolly also earned a personal best finishing in 20:09 who had the biggest movement of any varsity runner the last mile passing 9 runners.  Amy Reyes was having a breakthrough race of her own finishing fourth for the Warriors in a personal best 20:30.  Rounding out the scoring for the Warriors was Shannon Luu.  Feeling under the weather but gutted out a personal best rounding out the scoring team with a mark of 21:01.  Freshman Vanessa Giacalone moved up to varsity the last three races and had been a big contributor to the team in the later stages of the season.  Giacalone set another personal best finishing the race in 21:30.

Not to be outdone and setting the stage for the later races of the day the JV girls collectively crushed their personal bests.  A trio of girls dipped under the 23 minute barrier led by Leia Wang (22:38), Megan Gillespie (22:51 and Morgan Starkey under the 23 minute barrio for the hilly and challenging course.  Improving well over a minute was Anne Yeh who has blossomed into a strong and confident runner for the Warriors finishing in 23:20.  Hannah Lee rounded out the scoring for the JV girls that was just off of the team record.

In the end it was a solid day for the Warriors as the team continues to build and grow.  It was a record breaking year not just in performances but in numbers as over 60 athletes gave cross country a try.  “From the Carmel beach day to the Cross Country camp in Tahoe to finishing the season strong the team really came together as one and ran for one other,” Coach Small said.   

The varsity girls along with individual qualifiers Eyobed Mesfun, Alex Ascencio and Jeremy Dong continue to the CCS Championship on November 10 at Toro Park in Salinas.

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