Recap: Cross country flourishes in first league meet

Marvin Zou, Sports Editor

After finishing eighth in their first meet of the season earlier this month, the Vikings boys’ cross country team rebounded with a second place finish in the first league meet on Tuesday at Lynbrook High School.

The boys joined their girl counterparts, who also placed second at the meet. Notably, the Palo Alto High School junior varsity teams also did well, with the boys’ team finishing second and the girls’ team first.

Going into Tuesday’s meet, the Palo Alto High School cross country team had many questions as to whether they could perform up to par this season.

In the the previous meet, the Lowell Invitational on Sept. 8, the Paly girls’ team finished in second out of the 26 teams that attended.

The boys’ varsity team struggled, finishing eighth out of 40 teams.

Although finishing eighth would be something to celebrate for most teams, the Vikings have had historical success and high expectations for the team over the years and were not satisfied with the eighth place finish.

Since the team did not achieve what it planned to in the Lowell Invitational, it came into this meet looking to bounce back.

Sophomore Alex Selwyn said the team’s goal was to send a message to the rest of the teams in the Santa Clara league that the Paly runners are ready to thrive this year.

“We’ve lost some key seniors, but our hopes for the team’s performance remain optimistic,” Selwyn said.

Senior Maya Wilson said the Vikings trained a lot coming into this meet and expected to run fast times.

“We’ve been training pretty hard so we hoped to place well,” Wilson said. “We had a couple of our varsity runners injured … so we all had to push extra hard.” 

Despite the Vikings being short-handed with the injuries on Tuesday, they still succeeded with many impressive runs from both teams.

On the boys’ team, senior Donald Taggart finished second with a time of 10:36 on the 2.1 mile course. Seniors Alex Evans and John Tayeri also placed in the top 15, finishing ninth and 14th, respectively.

Junior Ella Ball finished second in the girls’ competition, with a time of 12:42. Sophomore Hailey Hwang, junior Kai Douglas and sophomore Gretchen Berndt also placed in the top 15, finishing fourth, sixth and 15th, respectively.

“Overall, I think we executed our race plans and met our objective,” Selwyn said.

Wilson said that the team as a whole gave their best effort and that this was a good starting point for the rest of the league meets.

“It was cool to see people finish faster than they thought they would finish,” Wilson said.

Moving forward, the Vikings hope to use the next league meets to prepare themselves for the important meets coming up later in the season.

“We hope to continue to train and get better so that we can prepare for future meets and CCS,” Wilson said. “Ultimately, [the state meet] is our end goal which I think is definitely in reach.”

“We hope to sustain our high level of performance and encourage team unity,” Selwyn said. “Our eyes are set on the state meet this year.”

The Vikings will have their next league meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, at Crystal Springs.