By Gabriel Lee,
The Davis High men’s and women’s varsity cross country teams competed at the CIF Division I state championships meet on Saturday Nov. 24 at at Woodward Park in Fresno, Calif.
Both teams sent seven athletes with the women’s team barely missing the podium, earning a fifth place finish and the men’s side coming in 17th.
Both the women’s team and the men’s team consisted of a mix of athletes ranging from sophomores to seniors.
The women’s side was led by strong showings from senior captains Annie and Ruthie Mitchell, who finished 34th and 46th respectively. In addition, sophomore Ana Fenton finished 37th.
“I am proud of how the team did. We placed 5th at a super competitive meet when we were not even ranked in the top ten the night before,” Ruthie said.
Fenton agreed with Ruthie, citing comradery as the reason for her confidence.
“We all trusted each other to do our very best and so going into the race I knew I would be satisfied with the result, whatever it may be,” Fenton said.
The team entered the race with a plan for the top four runners–Fenton, Annie and Ruthie Mitchell, and fellow senior Sophie Lodigiani–to run as a pack.
“We executed that plan and we found each other early in the first 800 meters and then raced together until basically the last 800 meters,” Fenton said.
The top four DHS runners all finished within 30 seconds of each other, sticking to their plan.
However, it was not all positives for the women’s side as they barely missed out on their goal of qualifying to compete at the annual Nike Cross Nationals meet in Oregon.
“We knew that realistically we had a very slight chance to accomplish this goal, but it inspired our training throughout the season and made us super excited for States,” Ruthie said.
On the men’s side, a 78th place finish from sophomore Ansel Tucker and a 79th place finish from junior Zeno Castiglioni led the DHS squad to a middle-of-the-pack 17th place finish.
According to Castiglioni, the team’s goal for the season was to qualify for states. After qualifying, they set set their sights higher, aiming for a top ten place in the state.
“We were unable to score in the top ten at state meet, largely because of the injuries that we had sustained in the weeks ahead of the state meet, but it was also a sub-par performance for all seven of us,” Castiglioni said.
However, the meet was not all bad as Castiglioni was encouraged by junior Dice Ferrick, who finished 146th out of 185 runners, and his performance throughout the year.
“Dice Ferrick showed he team what he could truly do this season and it means that we have our top three runners returning next year which is exciting,” Castiglioni said.
As the season comes to an end, the athletes also speculated on the coming year.
Junior Maggie Vasquez, who placed 105th out of 188 runners hopes to return to the state meet while improving as a team.
Castiglioni is preparing not just for next year in cross country but also the fast approaching track season.
“Going into the track season and next year in cross country I want to qualify for the state meets in both and hopefully have an injury-free season that college coaches can look at,” Castiglioni said.
While juniors Vasquez and Castiglioni are optimistic about next year’s season, seniors such as Ruthie have a more bittersweet outlook.
“Talking and running and laughing with them made my days infinitely better. Cross country was probably the best experience I have had during high school,” Ruthie said.