Panthers Break From The Pack
• Peninsula High begins to make its mark in the highly competitive sport.
Peninsula High’s varsity boys’ cross country team celebrated several breakthroughs this season, making it to CIF finals and participating in the Bay League finals.
They ran at the CIF Southern Section finals Nov. 23 in Riverside and placed 20th in Division 2. Junior Ewan MacFarlane placed 6th, making it to the CIF State Championships where he finished 13th, making him 34th in the state of California.
On Nov. 7, the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams competed in the Bay League finals, with the boys finishing with 72 points and girls with 93.
“[The team] made it to CIF together for the first time in over a decade,” senior and varsity captain Liam Drew said. “This year, we have a really strong team and really good runners, along with our coach who has been building us up to compete against top teams.”
For the past 10 years, cross country coach Chris Foster has been working to strengthen his team for CIF finals. With many other high schools competing in these meets every year, this goal was difficult to achieve until now. Furthermore, the team only fell short by a few points last season, which motivated these runners to take that final step towards their goal.
Senior and varsity captain Michael Takami believes that this feat was achieved because of the talent of the greater whole this year.
“I think that as a collective group, we have never been this fast for the past few years,” Takami said. “We do have top runners, but they still pull the rest of us up [and motivate us], which definitely helped the team overall.”
Cross country is a heavily competitive sport, even within a team. According to Drew, there is an interesting dynamic within the team because all of the runners are competing for certain seats but still support and connect with one another on a personal level. Nevertheless, this atmosphere acts as a springboard for everyone to improve and to become the best athletes they can be.
“It is always tough to take a spot from another teammate,” Drew said. “But, we are always proud of our members if they try their best as well, and if someone is faster than you one day, you just tip your hat.”
Furthermore, the team’s energy this year was influenced by the diversity of the members. According to junior member Devin Sharp, there was a variety of personalities that colored his fellow runners, which made creating friendships both inside and outside the track more meaningful.
“This year, it seemed like everyone had their own respective goals and things they wanted to achieve,” Sharp said. “They all brought their own spark to the team.”
Despite the feats boys’ cross country accomplished this season, athletes never settle. Drew believes that the growing success of the team is relatively new compared to the longstanding achievements of other top-ranked cross country teams. This, in turn, stresses his fellow teammates. However, because there is a lot of potential in the underclassmen and junior runners, Drew thinks that they will be able to overcome these emotions and improve to the best of their abilities.
“For seniors, I think that we just tend to be more consistent with races because of experience,” Drew said. “So, I think these younger runners with really fast times will eventually become more confident in their own abilities. Hopefully, if this can continue, the successes of our team this year will not be viewed as an upset but rather as something expected.”
Now, with the cross country season at a close, seniors like Takami hope to leave behind some advice before graduating next June. The achievements of these runners created a mark in the team’s history creating a window for more impressive feats in the future.
“I would say that putting in the work is the boat of the battle,” Takami said. “Cross country is a culmination of ‘practice makes perfect.’ It does not simply come overnight. Sticking with the [sport] will definitely give you the results that you are seeking.”