Injured runners return to competition

Tyler Graham

With two impact runners returning from injury to the boys’ team, and the girls’ team well on its way to winning a sixth straight Mission League title, the cross country teams are locked and loaded as they near CIF playoffs.

Both teams competed in the Wayne Walker Invitational Sept. 27 at Craig Park, and the Mission League Cluster Meet Oct 3. at Crescenta Valley Park. At Wayne Walker, the boys’ team finished 13th out of 17 teams, while the girls’ team took second place. The girls’ team continued its League success, adding to an impressive season with another win at the Mission League Cluster, while the boys’ team finished third, behind Loyola and Crespi; the former is ranked second in the State by PrepCalTrack.

“I feel extremely pleased with the way that we are progressing as a cross country team,” Program Head Jonas Koolsbergen said.

At the Wayne Walker Invitational, captain and senior standout Lizzy Thomas ’14 beat out a field of over 300 runners in the girls’ overall division to take home first place by 20 seconds, and led the way for the Wolverines at the Mission League Cluster Meet, notching her fifth and sixth victories of the season, respectively. The Student Athletic Advisory Council named Thomas Athlete of the Month for September.

“I think it was a very apt choice,” Koolsbergen said. “It was a very deserving honor. She had a spectacular first month of the season and is running extremely well.”

Thomas’ performance and those of her teammates have propelled the team. Runners Rachel Porter ’16 and Nicole Araya ’16 joined Thomas in the top 10 at Wayne Walker, while co-captain Monica Nimmagadda ’14 placed 19th overall.

“We’ve been getting tremendous work from people like Nimmagadda, Porter and Araya,” Koolsbergen said. “On the girls’ side, they have all been outstanding this season.”
PrepCalTrack ranked the girls’ team third in Divison 4 statewide.

“It’s exciting,” Koolsbergen said. “It definitely exemplifies what we want to be and what we know we are. Which is a team that can be in the mix in the major championships this postseason. It tells us that we are a legitimate contender, but it also tells us that we have work to do.”

The boys’ team has been powered by an unlikely source: the “Fab Five,” a group of five sophomores comprised of Jack Stovitz ’16, Henry Roskin ’16, Jeffrey Ehlers ’16, Roland Montgomery ’16 and Josh Friedman ’16. Captain David Manahan ’14, who was battling a shin injury throughout the beginning of the season, is attempting to return to his pre-injury form with playoffs rapidly approaching. Manahan’s fellow captain Ben Weissenbach ’15 plans to return from a knee injury, which has held him out of the season thus far, in time for the playoffs.

“The season is a constant process of improvement, and the training system is designed to bring out our very best results in postseason races,” Koolsbergen said. “We are on exactly the path that we want to be on to have our best possible performances when it is time to give our best possible performances.”