Season Preview: Cross Country looks to replicate success

    Juniors Kent Slaney and Naveen Pai (left) run at the Sunnyvale baylands last this season. Both boys are team leaders who are looking to win Central Coast Section finals this year. Photo courtesy of Malcom Stanley.

    Juniors Kent Slaney (front) and Naveen Pai (back left) run at the Sunnyvale baylands during the 2015 season. Both athletes are team leaders who are looking to win the Central Coast Section league this year. Photo courtesy of Malcom Stanley.

    Coming off another successful season, Palo Alto High School’s cross country team is hoping to replicate its dominant 2015, despite the changes at the coaching positions.

    Following its second place finish in the Central Coast Section league and 15th place finish at the California Interscholastic Federation State Cross Country Championships, the boys team is looking to improve upon last year’s results at CCS as well as the state meet.

    Led by seniors Kent Slaney and Naveen Pai, the boys’ team is confident that the Vikings can do better in both CCS and states, as the majority of the varsity team is returning this season.

    “We had a pretty young team last year, and we did lose Sam Desre, but a lot of people are coming back and we have a new training regime so we will be doing a lot of work and going far,” Slaney said.

    A big change to the team is the addition of coaches Michael Davidson and Mike Granville. They will be taking over for the 2015 coaches Kelsey Feely and Paul Jones. Both coaches participated in high school track and field and cross country, with Granville holding the United States high school 800m record.

    “The biggest goal for me is to help the kids in the program improve, hopefully on a grand scale, so they don’t come in and go backwards, but they come in and go forwards,” Davidson said. “I want to instill a work ethic where they [the runners] come out and give their best, and be able to perform at a very high level.”

    For junior Sam Craig, his sights are set on improving upon last year’s CCS performance.

    “I think we’re going to qualify for states, and I think we have a solid chance of winning CCS,” Craig said .

    With a new coach, bigger goals, and a returning core of varsity runners, the an improvement at States and CCS is more than possible for the boys’ team.

    Boys runners to look out for are seniors Kent Slaney, Naveen Pai, Spencer Morganfield, juniors Sam Craig, Reed Foster, and underclassmen Henry Saul and Donald Taggart.

    On the girls’ side, the team looks to build off of its disappointing CCS bid where it placed 7th.

    After losing captians Bryn Carlson and Portia Barrientos, the Varsity girls will be led by junior Julia Doubson.

    “Our goals are to qualify for States, and place better than last year at CCS,” Doubson said.

    The cross country season kicks off for Paly at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday at Gunn High School.

     

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