Juniors Andrew Burr and Wyatt Hall lead the race during the Aug. 19 Sierra Invitational. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Burr)

Cross-country sprints past competition at the Sierra Invitational

Competing against 27 schools, the Country Day cross-country team won two races at their first meet, the 2-mile Sierra Invitational on Aug. 19 at Sierra College. 

According to Head Coach Joe Hartman, each race in the Sierra Invitational is split by grade level.

Out of 131 junior runners, junior Andrew Burr placed first overall with a time of  10:03.5. Senior Aakash Arumugam placed first with a time of 10:09.8 against 113 senior runners. 

“I think the team did really well as a whole,” Burr said. “There were standout performances across the board. I really don’t think there’s much the team could improve on besides everyone continuing to set personal records.” 

Besides Burr and Arumugam, five other runners competed, including juniors Wyatt Hall, Alex Zinn and Griffin Misquitta, and freshmen Lukas Chung and Justin Lawson. 

Hall placed 15th out of the juniors with a time of 11:28.5, improving his time by 59 seconds since last year’s Sierra Invitational. 

“What I think allowed me to get a faster time this year is the training I put in leading up to the season,” Hall said. “I started running earlier in the summer and I had a better track season than last year.” 

Hartman said Chung and Lawson also had solid performances finishing their respective races in under 15 minutes, impressive for their first high school race. 

Another aspect that makes the team’s performance impressive is the course difficulty, Hartman said. 

“There’s a lot of rolling hills and a lot of turns. Whenever you turn, you have to slow down and re-accelerate. The weather was also warm, like 85 degrees, which made it a bit tougher for the runners. It’s definitely a challenging early season course,” Hartman said. 

Even with Burr’s past experience on this track, some aspects of the course remain unavoidable. 

“I’ve run on this course twice before, but that still didn’t fully prepare me for this race,” Burr said. “There were definitely more hills than I remember and they’re steeper than I remember. Also, the course was super dusty and a lot of that got kicked up into the air.”

During the season, the Sacramento Country Day cross-country team typically races other D4 and D5 schools. However, the Sierra Invitational historically invites several D1, D2 and D3 schools. 

“For Country Day, this meet becomes competitive because we’re racing large schools like Jesuit, Oak Ridge and Bella Vista High School. Obviously, in a couple of cases, we came out on top,” Hartman said. 

Despite the difficulty of the course and competing against these schools, Burr said the team did exceptionally well. 

“From what I’ve seen, this is the first time Country Day has won multiple races at this meet,” Burr said. “It’s definitely a result of our hard work as a team and the training we put in.” 

As the season progresses, Hartman has the team set on winning the Sacramento Metropolitan League Championship this year. For Arumugam’s last season, he has ambitious goals for himself and the team.

“If we get two more strong runners, I think we can qualify for state,” Arumugam said. “Individually, I want to qualify for nationals this year and place highly there.”

— By Aaryan Gandhi

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