Cross country succeeds at state meet, individuals move on to NXN

Junior Olivia O’Keeffe leads the pack, winning first place individually. (Courtesy: K. Browning)
Junior Olivia O’Keeffe leads the pack, winning first place individually. (Courtesy: K. Browning)

By Roland Li, Editor–

The cross country team showed great success at the CIF State Meet in Fresno’s Woodward Park on Saturday, Nov. 26. Eight Davis High individuals qualified for the Nike Cross Nationals.

In the boys division, senior Michael Vernau, the only individual from the men’s cross country team, became the first individual male athlete from the DHS cross country program to place second at the state meet. Vernau was only six seconds behind rival Luis Grijalva from Armijo.

“It would have been nice to win but I’m not unhappy with second,” Vernau said.

In the girls division, the women’s cross country team showed great success. All runners were in the top 100, but the team placed second overall, losing to Great Oak by twenty points. However, Davis got first in the individual competition. Junior Olivia O’Keeffe narrowly won the race by a half a second. Her final time was 17:28.9.

“I’d say this was my best performance this season,” O’Keeffe said. “I followed my race plan and it ended up being very effective, helping me set a new personal record by over twenty seconds.”

It is O’Keeffe’s first time ever winning a cross country race.

“To win at the state championships feels pretty surreal,” O’Keeffe said.

O’Keeffe wasn’t the only one to perform well. Senior Sofia Castiglioni was only seven seconds behind, placing fifth. Sophomore Sophia Lodigiani arrived in 18th place, with fellow sophomore Annie Mitchell (21) and senior Abigail Fisk (31) right behind her. The last two members of the seven-person crew, sophomore Charlotte Mitchell and junior Sage Taylor, placed 78th and 100th, respectively.

The young team’s success shows preparedness for both the Nike Cross Nationals and next season.

“The girls’ success shows they have the ability to do well at NXN,” assistant coach Tim Groth said. “Next season, we lose some really great seniors but the team’s got a lot of depth and could do really well again.”

The team now looks to the next meet: Nike Cross Nationals.

“We still stick to our same routine and get the team ready for Portland,” Groth said.

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