Cross country teams open season with top ranks in state

By Julius Pak

Cami Chapus ’12 finished third in her division, and fourth overall, with a time of 16:59, at the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic last Saturday. Chapus was faster than all the runners from Great Oak High School, the top-ranked girls’ cross country program in Division I.

Although the cross country teams normally compete in Division IV, both of the teams competed at higher levels at Woodbridge. The boys’ team competed at the “varsity rated” division, the second-highest tier; the girls’ team competed at the “sweepstakes” division, the category with the fastest schools in the state.

The girls’ team placed 11th out of the 28 teams that competed in the “Sweepstakes” division. They also placed 25th overall of the 171 schools that competed, defeating many Division II and III teams, including the top-ranked Division II team Redondo Union High School.

Amy Weissenbach ’12 placed eighth individually and ninth overall with a time of 17:06.

Lauren Hansson ’11, a star sprinter for the track team, finished fourth for the Wolverines and 106th overall in her first cross country race.

The boys’ team placed 26th out of 27 schools, and placed 77th overall of the 185 boys’ teams. Individually, Kevn On ’11 finished 10th in his division, and the 53rd fastest time out of the entire invitational, with a time of 15:14.

The meet, hosted at Estancia High School due to construction at the usual Woodbridge High School venue, pitted some of the top cross country programs in the state.

“Because it’s one of the largest single-day events in the nation, [the Woodbridge Invitational] is one of the most exciting meets. It’s extra fun because it’s very exciting to run at night,” Weissenbach said.

The girls’ cross country team won its first league meet on Thursday, Sept. 16, defeating five other cross country programs to win.

Despite having no runners in the top three places, as well as finishing at least a full minute after the fastest runner, the girls’ team took half of the top 10 finishes, ending with 36 points, and defeating top challengers Flintridge Sacred Heart and Notre Dame Academy.

Weissenbach led the team with a fourth place finish, with a time of 21:09 for the three mile run. Nikki Goren ’12 placed sixth with a time of 21:27. CIF champion Chapus followed Goren with a time of 21:41. Sophomores Yasmin Moreno ’13 and Caitlin Yee ’13 finished in ninth and tenth places with times of 21:51 and 22:04, respectively.

The boys’ team finished fifth out of seven in the league match, losing to Loyola. Kevin On ’11 finished fourth.

This meet, held at Crescenta Valley Park, was a new modification to the league. Instead of competing in a multitude of races against other schools individually, the cross country teams of the Mission League will compete in two league “cluster meets” where all the teams will compete at once.

“The plan is that this will result in fewer races before the post-season and more exciting competition,” Chef d’Equipe Geoff Bird said.

Earlier this month, ESPN RISE magazine ranked Harvard-Westlake’s cross country program at the top of Division IV for both the boys’ and girls’ teams, despite the loss of top boys’ runner David Abergel ’11 to mononucleosis and nagging injuries to Ben Saunders ’11 and Charlie Stiger ’11.

The entire team also competed at the Seaside Invitational at the San Buenaventura State Beach on Sept. 10. The meet was divided into eight divisions, one for each grade and gender. Because of the minimum of five runners needed for each team, only three teams placed.

All the teams, except for the 9th grade teams were comprised of both JV and varsity runners.

Chapus and Weissenbach placed first and second in the 1 grade girls’ division, and second and fourth overall for girls, respectively, yet their team did not place due to a lack of runners.

The next cross country match is the Bell-Jeff Invitational at Griffith Park next Saturday.