Because of strong results (such as junior Theo Kaufman finishing first in the varsity boys’ race) at the Oct. 24 SMAL Championship meet, the cross-country team qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Sub-sectionals on Nov. 5 at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds.
This meet was an important one – only the top 10 teams and top 10 individual runners would advance to the Sac-Joaquin Sectional championships.
Seven of the team’s nine runners competed at Sub-sectionals, but only one, sophomore Heidi Johnson, did well enough to qualify for Sectionals, which will be Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Willow Hills Reservoir Golf Course
Johnson ran the Div. V varsity race, finishing in 25:11.3. She placed 32nd of 96 runners.
That meant that for the season Johnson placed seventh as an individual runner, allowing her to advance to Sectionals.
“I think my greatest challenge was pacing myself, especially because this was a very difficult course,” Johnson said.
“The hills, specifically during the second mile, were much worse than those in the other races we’ve competed in.”
Johnson said she wasn’t disappointed with her time, although it was a few minutes slower than at the SMAL (held on Oct. 24), because that course was shorter and flatter.
“My (Sub-sectional) time was nearly equal to last year’s. I hope to run faster at Sectionals than I did freshman year.”
Johnson said she plans to continue running throughout her off season to come back faster next year. However, she is now “just focusing on pacing myself and running my own race.”
Junior Riya Rampalli also ran the varsity girls’ race, finishing in 30:54.3 and placed 82nd of 96 runners.
Freshmen Zak Wright and Christopher Wilson and seniors Aidan Cunningham, Emil Erickson and Jaelan Trapp ran the varsity boys’ race. Cunningham finished in 21:32.2, Wright in 22:33.6, Erickson in 24:29.4, Wilson in 25:31.0 and Trapp in 30:41.3. They placed 74th, 92nd, 124th, 134th and 159th of 159 runners.
Junior Theo Kaufman was absent from Sub-sectionals due to a competitive soccer meet.
Coach Nick Domich said that the team’s greatest challenge was having so many new runners, most of whom were using cross-country to get in shape for the upcoming soccer season.
He pointed out that of all the runners who joined the team this year, only Wright had raced before.
“The first month we were getting better each race. And then the (high-school) trips came (Oct. 4-7), causing many of our runners to be out of shape, and we never truly recovered.”
Domich said he was disappointed that only three of the team’s top five boys (Kaufman and senior Adam Dean were absent) competed in this race, and that the team finished 20th of 21 in at Sub-sectionals.
But Domich said he was proud of Johnson’s performance.
“(At the SMAL meet) Theo Kaufman stood out as our best runner. (At Sub-sectionals) that runner was Heidi.”