Cross-country team breaks personal records at Willow Hills Reservoir Course while competing in brutal heat

Héloïse Schep
Senior Christian Van Vleck runs in the 5000-meter varsity boys race. Van Vleck placed 230th and earned a time of 23:00.

While every member of the cross-country team was present and in good shape at their most recent meet on Sept. 17, they faced an intimidating challenge: the heat.

Temperatures were in the high 80s at the Willow Hills Reservoir Course, and there was little to no shade on the track.

In every race, runners passed out from heat exhaustion, cried and were carried to a water fountain by their parents. There seemed to be injured runners on nearly every team.

Luckily, the Country Day runners handled the heat well.

Seniors Christian Van Vleck and Emil Erickson and junior Andrew Rossell ran the 5000-meter varsity boys race.  

Van Vleck finished at 23:00 (a personal record), Erickson at 25:32, and Rossell at 34:57. The boys placed 230th, 274th and last at 291st.

Erickson said his greatest challenge was keeping a steady pace.

“At the beginning of the race, I ran too fast,” Erickson said.

“When I got to the hills halfway through the race, I was already really tired and worn out, and my energy was drained.

“I didn’t meet my time goal, but I’m still happy about the way I handled the hills and the heat.”

Van Vleck also said keeping his pace was difficult, but he was happy with his persistence throughout the race.

“I didn’t walk or stop any time during the race, and that is really important,” Van Vleck said.

“I didn’t make my time goal because the course was much harder than last week. The heat and the hills challenged me.

Héloïse Schep
Senior Emil Erickson runs in the 5000-meter varsity boys race. Erickson came in 274th and earned a time of 25:32.

“I feel like I would’ve gotten a better time this week if the circumstances weren’t so difficult.”

The race was won by a runner from Tokay High School at 16:20.

Junior Riya Rampalli ran the 5000-meter varsity girls race, finishing at 30:09 and placing 193rd.

Rampalli was also impacted by the heat and the hills, although she was happy with the way she and other runners handled this obstacle.

The race was won by a runner from Sierra  at 19:48.

Sophomore Heidi Johnson ran the 3400-meter freshman/sophomore race. She finished at 19:20, her best time for the 3400-meter this season.

This was Johnson’s first race since an ankle injury, so she said was nervous before the race began.

Johnson placed 44th; the race was won by a runner from North Tahoe High School at 14:57.

Freshmen Zak Wright and Christopher Wilson ran the 3400-meter freshman/sophomore race. Wright finished at 13:42, a personal record, and placed 22nd. Wilson finished at 17:58 and placed 119th.

Freshman Mackenzie McLeod didn’t run in this meet because of a scheduling conflict, but she said she still was happy she came to the race.

“Everyone was really supportive and positive,” McLeod said.

“(We) helped each other out a lot.”

The cross-country team’s next meet is on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Elkhorn Golf Course in Stockton.

By Héloïse Schep

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