By Staff Writer Andrew Kan
Boys’ Varsity Cross Country concluded their exceptional season after the North Coast Section (NCS) Division II meet on November 19 and looks to continue its success in future years.
The team consistently ran well throughout this season, the first season since 2009 where the team went undefeated during the regular season and obtained first place at the Mission Valley Athletic League (MVAL) meet. In addition to receiving first place at MVALs, four MSJ runners placed in the top six during the meet. However, the team fell short during NCS to the tough competition. The team placed eighth out of 18 teams overall, with Sophomore Nitin Sagi and Junior Shrey Vasavada placing 22nd and 23rd, respectively.
Not only is the team unmatched by the other MVAL teams, but is also young. Comprised of two freshmen, a sophomore, three juniors, and a senior, the Varsity team hopes to maintain its MVAL dominance in following years with only Captain Senior Tom Scrutton graduating. The overall youthfulness of the team has allowed the players time to mature, gain experience, and improve. For example, Vasavada learned how to lead a race, and Sagi improved his Stanford Invitational time from last year by 90 seconds. Freshman Arnav Arora said, “We [the younger runners] can learn from players like Tom and Shrey … It is really helpful when you are younger because you can learn from the mistakes of the older runners.”
According to Head Coach Jack Marden, several factors influenced the team’s success this season. Its dominant early wins led to increased enthusiasm from the runners, which in turn led to better practices and meets. “The simple fact is, even though it is not about winning, winning allows you to do more,” said Marden. Additionally, the team has had a large amount of talent in recent years. Runners such as Senior Vedant Mehta, Sagi, and Vasavada all made the Varsity team in their freshman year, and Arora and Freshman Ashwin Pravine have continued that trend. This talent has allowed the team to have faster individual runners as well as different training practices. Because of their talent, the runners were able to keep pace with each other and other talented runners, enabling them to rise quickly in skill. The coaches contributed to this increase by having more quality and specific workouts, such as whistle drills, which simulate tough races and help improve team grouping.
While the team had a season comprised mostly of highlights, it did have its downs. Mehta was injured the entire season, and Junior Abishek Shah was also injured for part of it. Despite these setbacks however, the team was able to overcome them with other capable runners taking the injured runners’ places, and retain a positive atmosphere the entire season.
Many team members are currently preparing for the Track and Field season in spring. They also hope to make it to the 2017 California Interscholastic Federation Cross Country State Championship meet. Scrutton said, “It has been an honor running with these guys. I am going to miss them next year when I leave. They’re going to be great.”
Photo Courtesy Jan Scrutton