Palo Alto High School’s cross country teams are looking to continue their dominance after the boys’ team attended state championships and the girls’ team placed fourth at the Central Coast Section Championships last year.
The boys’ team placed second to Bellarmine at CCS but ultimately fell short at the state championship meet in Fresno, Calif., placing last in their division.
Junior Kent Slaney, who attended the state championship meet, is hoping to improve after the team’s disappointing performance.
“The state championships didn’t turn out as we wanted to but we are hoping to improve on that this year and hopefully win CCS,” Slaney said.
According to boys’ coach Kelsey Feeley, several key athletes’ graduations will pose a challenge for the team.
“We will definitely miss the presence of graduated seniors Lucas Matison and Aaron Chandler,” Feeley said. “Not only were they top scorers on the team, but they also set great examples for how to run and how to find a balance between cross country and school work.”
Despite these losses, Feeley believes that the team will thrive this season.
“I think that the majority of my returning varsity squad are setting up to have incredibly successful seasons, both as a team but also individually,” Feeley said.
According to Slaney and Feeley, the team prepared for the new season by attending practices over the summer.
“A good number of the boys, returners and newcomers alike made an effort to come out to our summer practices, so they have a pretty good head start,” Feeley said.
Feeley says some runners to look out for include Slaney, senior Sam Desre and junior Naveen Pai.
The girls’ team is also hoping to improve after its fourth place finish at CCS last year.
“As a team, I know our number one goal without a doubt is to make the state meet,” senior and team captain Sarah Wang said. “We’ve gotten really close over the past couple of years, but I know we have the team to make it this year as long as we stay healthy and keep this goal in mind.”
Senior and team captain Portia Barrientos believes that the team can reach their goal.
“I’m feeling really optimistic about the season,” Barrientos said. “We have five returning seniors who are capable of contributing on the varsity level, as well as lots of talented sophomores and a freshman that look really promising.”
According to senior Nicole Chen, to achieve the goal of reaching State Championships, the team is adopting a consistent workout schedule.
“We run two to three hard workouts a week and [have] two easy days to recover,” Chen said.
In addition, the team is focusing on building up its stamina.
“In terms of improvement, we’re really working on building mileage right now and also building our endurance for longer meets in the future,” Wang said. “We’re working hard every day and really pushing the workouts.”
According to Barrientos, the team was fortunate to have lost only one graduating senior, Katie Foug.
“We have a lot of young talent that I can see coming up to fill her spot,” Barrientos said.
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams will compete in their first meet at 3 p.m. Thursday at Henry M. Gunn High School.