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Mayra Lopez, Sports editor

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Last year, cross country placed 8th for boys and 7th for girls in the Division II City Finals. Then-junior Stephanie Cruz advanced to the 2016 CIF State Cross Country Championships where she placed 90 out of 200 runners. Now, as captain of the cross country team, seniors Cruz and Jack Koscheka aim to repeat last year’s success with new runners, but the same determination.

The terrains for meets mostly include mountain scapes, which means a lot of uphill running. To prepare runners for the difficulty of such terrains, Coach Kelly Aguda says the plan is similar to previous years, speed workouts, distance running, circuits, and even a bit of yoga. “[We have] very specific and different workouts we implement everyday to elicit better overall times and contribute to the team goal,”  Aguda said.

At league finals, every school races for the chance to advance to City Preliminaries, then City  Finals. Since 1999, the cross country team has gone to City Finals every year, proving the effectiveness of their extensive training. “Advancing to State Championships happens less often,” Aguda said.“It’s very difficult to qualify. I‘ve had maybe about 10 kids go to state individually.”

Contrary to popular belief, cross country isn’t a solitary sport. During competitions, the team runs in packs to place together and get a better score. “We have to be coordinated and know how to work together to push each other to do our best. Teamwork is definitely instrumental to our progress,” said senior runner Claire Hafteck. “We all get along really well; this is probably why our team room is so loud. Our coaches and captains like to implement team workouts to make sure we run as a pack on race day. We’re all very supportive of each other and push each other to be better,” said senior Sebastian Hernandez. An important aspect of cross country, as in any sport, is bringing all the players together to create a stronger team chemistry. “We try our best to make sure everyone works hard and push to the fullest on the course,” said senior captain Cruz.

This season the cross country team aims to return to City Finals stronger to place in the top five. Individually many runners aim to improve their personal records. Uni’s cross country team can expect to have the support of the whole school, not just their teammates and coach.

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Run, XC run!