Cross country copes with loss of record holders

By Grant Nussbaum

Following five days of training in Big Bear, this year’s varsity cross country teams strive to prove themselves tomorrow in their first league meet at Balboa Park at 3:30 p.m..

The Wolverines began practicing for this season in early July, and trained in Big Bear from Aug. 21 to Aug. 26.

The team lost last year’s girls’ co-captains Amy Weissenbach ’12 and Cami Chapus ’12, along with last year’s boys’ co-captain Aaron de Toledo ’12. All three graduated seniors competed in the CIF Finals last year.

“It’s always tough losing seniors,” boys’ co-captain Justin Berman ’13 said, “but we’ve also got some new up-and-coming runners who are more than ready to fill in [their] place.”

Despite the loss of de Toledo, who trained with the squad in Big Bear before leaving for college, the boys’ squad will be looking to contend based on the performance of runners like co-captains Berman and David Manahan ’14, along with second year varsity runner Ben Weissenbach ’15. Manahan is confident that the team can take the reins and live up to the standard of success de Toledo set.

“We have a lot of talent on this team, especially coming from Ben Weissenbach, and I see no reason why we can’t keep up what he’s been doing,” Manahan said. “Even though we lost [de Toledo] and his skills as a runner, our team is a lot deeper this year than it was ever before.”

While captains Berman, David Manahan, Yasmin Moreno ’13 and Elle Wilson ’13 will take on the leadership positions, a team effort is what will fill the void left by the graduated seniors.

“As one group leaves, the next group is prepared to take on the mantle of leadership,” Program Head Jonas Koolsbergen said. “It’s really going to be the work of many to raise the performance of the whole.”

Among other accolades, Chapus and Weissenbach finished second and third respectively in last year’s state finals, and led the girls team to a CIF Division IV championship in 2009. With their departure and a hamstring injury to co-captain Wilson, the girls’ squad will try to compete for state with veterans Moreno and Monica Nimmagadda ’14, along with several sophomores and freshmen.

Moreno believes the team’s work ethic is what will lead them to success.

“We have a lot of similar times, we’re in similar ranges,” Moreno said. “I know this summer, we’ve been putting in a lot of work, going to practice all the time. Big Bear was really great, and what I saw there makes me think we’re going to have a great season.”