Cross Country Captain Recaps the Season

by Anthony Ottati ’16, XC Team Captain

Last year at Joaquin Miller Park, the boy’s team lost by six points to College Preparatory School, and we were not able to win a single league meet that whole year. This snapped a three-year winning streak for the Owls. But thousands of miles later, even after losing on our home course by one point, we reclaimed the league title last weekend, beating College Prep 34 to 36.

One thing about cross country is that luck is non-existent: championships aren’t won on one lucky call from the umpire, or one lucky bounce of an onsides kick. Each person on both teams trained hard for the race, some for four years. But as you are on the starting line waiting for the gun to go off, most of the hard work is behind you: the workouts, the miles and at this point the chances of a miraculous 10 minute Personal Record are slim to none.

For those who want to improve on their performance for next year (which should be everybody on the team), winners are not made on the last 100m kick to the finish. They are made through consistent year-round training over track and cross-country.

This is best exemplified by Athenian 5th man Andrew Kocins. In scoring, the 5th man is the most valuable, because as the last scorer they have the risk of scoring the most points. However, through hard work, Andrew set a 30 second PR and moved up from 18th last year to 10th yesterday to secure a victory for the owls.

This year, for the first time, an Athenian, Dara Goldfein, won the girls’ JV race. Back in 2012, during my freshman year, our girls team only had one committed year-round runner, and due to our lack of depth, College Prep swept the first 10 places in the JV race. Three years later, the girls program has become incredibly  successful, winning multiple league titles, and placing 3rd in NCS last year. While they did not win league champs this year, the JV top 7 finishes of freshmen Dara GoldfeinJenna Hajny  and Anne Domning all bode well for the future of the team.
For many, Tuesday’s meet was the last race of the season. For seniors Cade Niles and Vishnu Peri,
today marked their last cross country race in their high school careers. We will be holding daily practices all the way up until Thanksgiving break and all runners are welcome but not required to come out and keep running. At the end of the first semester, usually right when final exams begin, we do an annual summit run to the top of Mt. Diablo. If you have still been running, then you are welcome to come on out and conquer the 13-mile, 3500ft elevation gain run.
For our varsity teams, the season is not over yet. On Saturday, November 21st, we will compete against schools from all over Northern California at the NCS meet at Hayward High School. The girls will race at 10:40 followed by the boys at 12:20. Both teams will attempt to qualify for the California State meet in Clovis the next weekend. The top 5 boys teams and top 6 girls teams make it to  State. We look forward to taking this momentum into the postseason.

Cross Country: League Champions

Congratulations to the Cross Country team! The boys won their third championship in a row and the girls are League Champs for the first time in school history!

Over the past five years, Athenian’s Cross Country team has more than doubled in size. This year, 79% of the team saw improvements over their running times, a rate higher than more than half of the 109 North Coast Section teams.

For full team and individual statistics, go to Athenian’s team page at XCstats.

DSC_1831Athenian 13 (86) (1) Athenian 13 (5) Athenian 13 (27)DSC_1836

Cross Country: 6th in State!

by Philip Hadley, Cross Country Coach

Read about Philip here.

Tanner Shaw ’14 blazed his way to another piece of Athenian history as he became our first student to finish among the top 10 individuals at the California State Championship Meet in Fresno.  Shaw’s 52 second improvement from 2011 earned him 7th place among 180 of the fastest Division V runners.  Tanner’s maintenance of a 5:11 per mile pace over the 3.1 mile course was one of the five factors that also helped set a new Athenian team record as we improved from a 9th place finish in 2011 to 6th place in 2012 with a team average pace of 5:27, dropping 10 seconds from 2011.

Senior Cameron Taylor showed tremendous strength, poise and patience throughout his injury-riddled season but never so much today as he approached the race with a lead-by-example positive attitude to record his best time on the Woodward Park course.  A very fast first mile as the lead pack raced out in 5:05 pace, Cameron showed one of the advantages of being a 4-year senior as he ran smoothly, confidently and wisely to his own tune for that first too-fast mile (5:15 for Cameron).  Then he passed 41 (!) people on his way to a 27th placing and 31 second improvement. Cameron’s steadfast enthusiasm for the program and his insatiable desire to improve beyond the sight on our current selves has undoubtedly been one of the reasons for our success today.

That the race was much deeper this year was clear from junior Gabe Elliott’s run today as he removed a second from his best time, moved up 10 spots in the NCS ranking from last weekend, and yet finished 9 positions lower relative to his 2011 State finish.  It’s a great example to show that you cannot control anyone but yourself (and that alone is hard enough).  Elliott’s best race of the season, like a rhinoceros, he never stopped charging throughout the 3.1 mile distance.  Gabe was as aggressive passing people up Killer Hill as he was in the last 50 yards.  Given how much Gabe liked Tanner’s shiny medal, expect another Athenian to bring home the brass in 2013.

Senior Charlie Thimesch played human bowling ball near the top of Killer Hill as he tripped on an ankle (not his own) and rolled down three runners.  Up faster than the others, Charlie regained himself and sped the last 1.2 miles to lop 35 seconds from his previous Fresno outing.  Charlie has been a bedrock of consistency and Spartan toughness throughout his three years with Athenian XC.  A dual athlete with swimming, Charlie was spotted on several occasions to be running secret Saturday morning track workouts of mile repeats so as not to ‘lose’ his running shape while off swimming.

It takes a team of seven to race, and eight to show promise for the future.  Three Athenians made their Woodward Park debut in the tule fog this morning: junior Alex Ball, freshman Eric Strand, junior David Weinmann and 8th man and alternate, freshman Anthony Ottati.

Learning his lesson well from NCS last weekend, much improved harrier Alex Ball did not look behind in this race (first time this has occurred) as he became our 5th man across the line in 18:05.  This marks a 45-second improvement over our 5th man from 2011 (the 5th man is the final runner awarded a score toward team points).  Indeed, so much stronger is out depth this year that our sixth and seventh runners were also faster than our 2011 5th man.  Eric Strand set a bit of Athenian history on Saturday as he became our first freshman to run the State course.  We hope that he will become our first 4-year State senior in a few years.  Junior David Weinmann capped a spectacular late season rise to be our 7th runner, and then sped to Athenian to fulfill his other varsity obligation as an Owl basketball player.  We hope to see him on the track after scoring many points on the court.  Freshman Anthony Ottati was our official alternate, running the course on Friday paced by a trio of his teammates as he completed the course in an easy to remember 20:12.  I’m confident that Ottati will be racing around this venue in 2013.

Thank you, everyone, for a great season.  Thank you to Kim and Steve for the bagels and fruit Saturday morning and to each of the parents for dinner and lunch this weekend (Rob Shaw, Chuck Taylor, Tim and Michelle Thimesch, Kim Risedorph, Steve Elliott, Steve and Nina Strand).

Check out a video of the race here.

Remember: Athletics Banquet this Tuesday, 6:30pm.

Photos and video by Donal Pierce.

Cross Country Ends Season as League Champs

Congratulations to the Cross Country Team!

Men’s Varsity League Champions (2nd year in row)
Men’s JV League Champions (1st time in school history!)

Women’s Varsity 2nd place
Women’s JV 2nd Place

Individual Champions
Women’s Varsity: Laney Inamine
Men’s Varsity: Tanner Shaw
Men’s JV: David Weinmann

Recap of the League Championship Meet

by Phillip Hadley, Coach

Four titles were on the line this record breaking (nearly) hot afternoon at Joaquin Miller Park, Oakland, in the BCL East League Championships.  Three of those  four titles were earned by our runners: Tanner Shaw (’13) repeated as league champion as he led the boys’ varsity team to a second straight league title in defeating second place CPS, 32-56; Laney Inamine (’14) set Athenian history as she became our first league champion from the girls’ side.  In a fine display of dominance, Inamine crushed the competition as she led from start to finish and only increased her lead as the race continued.

Shaw re-wrote league history this afternoon as his winning time of 14:41 not only eclipsed his championship effort from last year of 15:00, but he also ran the 5th fastest time ever on this 2.6 mile course which dates back to 1995.

Those also contributing points to the varsity victory were Cameron Taylor (’13), 3rd place; Charlie Thimesch (’13), 4th place; Gabe Elliott (’13), 5th place; Alex Ball (’14), 19th place.  Freshman Eric Strand and senior Ryan Zlock rounded out our top 7.  Shaw, Taylor, Thimesch and Elliott all earned First Team All-League Honors for their speedy legs today.

For our girls’ team, they also rewrote the Athenian history books as they shattered our best league championship score 84-46.  Those also scoring points today were freshmen Annalise Inamine and Rebecca Elliott; Melise Knowles (’14) and freshman Jillian Freeborn.   Haley Carter (’15) and Emily Golding (’14) came across the line just two seconds apart.  Along with Laney, Annalise and Rebecca were named First Team All-League and Melise was issued Second Team All-League honors.

History was not only made by our varsity runners as the junior varsity boys’ team showed that they have a bright future as they dominated the JV race, led by junior David Weinmann as he had his best race of the season in winning the gold.  This marks the first time that an Athenian has won the JV league championship race, and the first time we have won the JV team title.  Joining David in scoring victory were freshmen Anthony Ottati, Matthew Chabala, senior David Kerns and sophomore Nick Morales; juniors Will Brown and Krishna Peri rounded up the top 7.  It is notable that of the top 9 spots in the JV race, 8 of them went to Athenian.

Of those competing at Joaquin Miller Park again, the following runners improved their personal best on this course (mm:ss): seniors Cameron Taylor (00:21) and Charlie Thimesch (00:15) juniors Alexander Ball (2:05), Tzofi Klinghoffer (1:23), Krishna Peri (00:37), Tanner Shaw (00:19), David Weinmann (00:30), William Brown (00:45), Emily Golding (00:50); sophomores Laney Inamine (1:57), Nick Morales (1:43).

For those top 9 boys and 9 girls going forward to the NCS Championships meet on November 17, and hopefully to the State Championships on November 24, they have several more workouts to attend.  The remainder of the team is welcome to train with us, but is under no obligation to do so.

Thank you to those parents that brought food and drink, but I apologize for not knowing exactly who those generous people are.