The phrase, “All I do is win win win, no matter what,” was once penned by pop icon and record producer DJ Khaled, and the Palo Alto High School cross country team has taken these words to heart. Throughout the season and at the Crystal Springs Central Coast Section (CCS) meet, both the girls and boys teams raced their way into qualifying for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State meet, one of the biggest cross country competitions for high schoolers in California.
At the CCS meet, the boys team ran exceptionally well and finished an outstanding second place across all competitors behind Bellarmine College Prep. Despite being in the top tier of cross country teams in the meet, senior varsity runner Ben Beaudry still believes that second place was still a bit of a disappointment.
“The CCS meet did not go as planned,” Beaudry said. “We were hoping to beat Bellarmine and have our top six runners go under 16 minutes. We accomplished none of those.”
According to Beaudry, the reasons that the boys were unable to achieve the goals that they had set before the meet were bad strategic planning of the race and injuries.
“[We lost] due to the sheer amount of people ‘rabbiting’ at the start of the race and going at a much faster pace than they could hold, blocking the course for us,” Beaudry said. “We also lost Sam Craig in the first 100 meters due to a hamstring injury, as he was one of our top five runners.”
The fantastic performance at Crystal Springs was no fluke. Before the CCS meet, the boys and girls raced in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL) meet. It was not surprising to the team or the spectators watching that the Vikings squad was a tier above the rest of the competition. Not only did some runners beat their personal best, the boys placed a stunning first place across all of the teams in SCVAL. For junior runner Elliot Clark, the near perfection execution at the SCVAL meet was due to great team chemistry and an encouraging outlook on the meet.
“Overall, everybody had high spirits going into the meet,” said Clark. “The general positive attitude that was held throughout the entire team really fueled us to performing well and running as fast as we needed to.”
Furthermore, clutch performances from senior Kent Slaney and sophomore Henry Saul sealed a win.
“As usual, Kent dominated the league as he did all season,” junior runner Noah Yuen said. “Henry placed second for Paly, which is extremely impressive because he is still a sophomore.”
Although the CCS meet did not go as hoped for the boys, they still believe that the State meet will give them a chance to beat Bellarmine and end the season on a high note.
“[Losing to Bellarmine] was a learning experience and now we have [the State meet] to race them again, and I think if we work together like we’ve been doing all this year, and really push ourselves we can pull off beating Bellarmine in Fresno,” Beaudry said.
In order to fulfill their expectations at the State meet, the team has adopted a different style of training.
“[Unlike regular season training], post season training consists mainly of harder workouts and then a good length of tapering before races,” Beaudry said.
Furthermore, the girls cross country team also ran exemplary races, though they finished fifth in the CCS meet, which sadly means that they were eliminated from State contention as a team. However, a standout performance from freshman Miranda Jimenez allowed her to qualify for the State meet solely based on a superb individual time. Jimenez’s great run at Crystal Springs makes her the first girl from Paly to qualify for States since 2013.
The final race of the season for the cross country teams will take place on Nov. 26 in Fresno, Calif., where spectators should expect a superb final performance from the lads of Palo Alto.