Girls’ Cross Country wins state championship

By Mary Rose Fissinger

Girls cross country became state champions for the first time in school history on Saturday, Nov. 28. Coupled with the boys’ fifth place finish, the day quickly became, in the words of the head of the cross country program Jonas Koolsbergen, “the single greatest day for running in the school’s history.” 


Both the girls’ and the boys’ teams journeyed up to Woodward Park in Fresno to race in the Division IV race at the state meet. It was an overcast 53 degrees when the gun for the girls’ race went off and 188 runners making up 23 teams (as well as some individual qualifiers) took off at the start of the 3.1 mile course. Cami Chapus ’12 and Amy Weissenbach ’12 were in the front pack from the start.


In the second mile, Chapus and Marin Catholic’s Theresa Devine pulled away from the rest, and Devine soon gained a 75 meter lead over Chapus. She kept the lead into the final mile, but with 800 meters left in the race, Chapus passed her and went on win the individual state title with a time of 17:59, a minute faster than her time from the state meet last year for which she individually qualified, and the 18th fastest girls’ time run that day for any division.


“Towards the second mile I was thinking, ‘This girl is way ahead of me,’ but then once I started gaining on her it hit me that I could catch her,” Chapus said. “When I passed her I didn’t look back and just kept running until the end.”


Weissenbach followed in fourth place, running 18:24 and making Harvard-Westlake the only school to score two runners in the top 10.


Lily Einstein ’11 finished third for the team, passing several runners in the final stretch and coming in 32nd place at 19:26. Claudine Yee ’10 (46th) and Yasmin Moreno ’13 (66th) came through next, running 19:42 and 20:05 respectively and finishing off the team’s scoring. Nikki Goren ’12 (70th) was next at 20:09 and Caitlin Yee ’13 (78th) followed with 20:22, the first seventh runner to come through for any team by 35 places.


They defeated the second place team, J Serra, by a distinct margin of 37 points. Defending state champions La Reina finished in third and in fourth was Coronado, a team that had beaten the girls earlier in the season at the Mt. Sac invitational, and favored by some to win state.


The Wolverines’ team time of 1:35:36 became the fastest time ever run at the state meet by a div. IV team. The previous record of 1:35:53 had been set in 1999 by Corona del Mar.


“It was the best feeling to have all our hard work pay off,” Chapus said.


The boys’ race began at 12:20 p.m. and was led from the start by CIF champions Laguna Beach, who won the race by 53 points. It was a close battle for the remaining teams. The third through seventh place squads had team times all within 45 seconds of one another, and the fifth place Wolverines were only 16 points from 3rd. They were led by David Abergel ’11 and Kevin On ’11, both finishing at 16:39. Charlie Stigler ’11, Reid Lidow ’10, and Hank Adelmann ’11 finished off the scoring with times of 17:04, 17:11, and 17:12. Abergel, On, Stigler, and Adelmann all improved on their times from last year’s state meet.


Ben Saunders ’11 came across the finish line in 17:18, and Chris Vanderchans ’10 finished in 18:03 in his first race back after recovering from a hip injury that had prevented him from running in the majority of the meets this season.


The boys’ team has continued to improve from their ninth place finish at state last year, and with only two of the top nine runners graduating this year, they promise to be a contending force next year as well.