Cross Country achieves record numbers in preseason

Juliana Berger

With a record-setting 41 students attending the Big Bear training camp in August, cross-country is looking to work towards CIF success for both men and women.

The team traveled to Big Bear for five days this summer to train in higher altitude and promote team bonding.

“We had tremendous team vibe, excellent training and a real opportunity to come together as a team; it was one of, if not the most successful Big Bear trips ever,” Cross Country Head Coach Jonas Koolsbergen said.

The team had two workouts each day. They would break into four or five separate groups and compete in team-building competitions, such as canoe races.

Koolsbergen believes that it is always difficult to get the athletes at summer workouts due to how much they travel. However, most of the seniors and key runners were there and the number of runners present increased from the end of July onwards.

“I thought the trip was a great bonding experience because not everyone shows up to all the summer practices, and pretty much everyone goes to Big Bear,” Conor Kneafsey ’17 said.

Many new players are joining the team, and Koolsbergen predicts they will make an impact.

The girls’ team has the addition of Rasa Barzdukas ’17. The boys’ team added Austin McNabe ’18 and Andrew Shibuya ’19, who should help the team in competitions.

“Obviously it is always hard to lose people who were a part of the family, but it is a natural part of high school sports,” Koolsbergen said. “Hopefully, as a group we can replace the good players we lost last year.”

The team will be continuing with its pack strategy from last year, where runners will try to stick together in order to speed up each other’s pace.

This strategy is ideal since in cross-country only the first five runners’ scores are recorded.

“The best athletes go and do their own thing, but getting fourth and fifth place to finish with them will really help the team’s score,” Koolsbergen said. “Minimizing their spread, the time between the last and the first runner, ensures the best possible result.”