Despite coming in second to Beverly Hills at their league finals on Nov. 3 in boys’ and girls’ varsity, girls’ JV, and boys’ freshmen, cross country has been on top of its game this season. Runners consistently beat their personal records and Samo regularly dominated meets as a team.
In the past nine years, Samo cross country has been the undefeated boys’ league champions. This year, boys’ JV was the only Samo team that came in first, with the rest of the divisions coming in second to Beverly. According to Girls’ Captain Karina Sandoval, Cross country’s performance at the meet can be attributed to multiple things.
“Many [runners] were sick. We got too caught up in winning rather than remembering that we had to work as a team and we weren’t as focused,” Girls’ Captain Karina Sandoval said.
Furthermore, Samo competed against their main rival Beverly Hills at the finals.
“I’m not blaming our loss on their success because I do believe we are as good as them and have just as many capabilities, but Beverly Hills really knows how to strategize for the meets and they move their best runners into different categories so that they can win everything,” sophomore Kia Canning said.
Overall, the runners say it was a lack of focus that led to the loss.
“We lacked a positive mindset before going into the race and set our expectations too low. It’s definitely a wakeup call and I think we’re really going to perform well at CIF,” junior Alice Wasserman said.
Samo cross country has overcome many setbacks this season, including the temporary loss of the track due to construction of the new football field and the loss of two assistant coaches, former Samo science teacher Matthew Mabrey and former Olympic track athlete Barbara Park.
“It’s tough. We’re down two coaches and that makes a big difference,” coach Tania Fischer said. “It’s hard to get every level.”
However, despite these setbacks, Samo’s cross country team has been able to adapt to these conditions and remain optimistic.
“Samo has had a great cross country season. Our sophomore girls’ team has done especially well in league and invitational meets, winning second place at the Woodbridge Invitational meet in mid September,” sophomore Rachel Kiekhofer said.
This season, Samo’s boys’ JV team has remained undefeated against their main rival, Beverly Hills, and took first place at the league finals. Samo’s girls’ JV also remained undefeated at the first two league meets. Furthermore, cross country has won in at least one division at every meet this season.
Though they still have their weaknesses, their passion for cross country holds them together.
“I feel that our weakness is that we are in such a tough division—Division One schools are the toughest section to compete in and we have a tough time getting beyond CIF prelims. In order to compete with these kinds of teams, the training needs to move up several notches and we are not quite there yet,” Fischer said. “I feel our strength is our team spirit and support for each other.”