Crosscountry looks to improve

Brian Chang, News Editor

After a summer break devoid of practice due to coaching changes, the Diamond Bar High School cross country team was off to a slow start, finishing last for boys and fifth out of six for girls at its first league meet at Legg Lake.

Despite this and a number of injuries, head coach Malinalli Cooke, previously the team’s assistant coach, says the team has been improving rapidly.

“We’ve been doing as well as could be expected. We started out behind a lot of the other teams, but everyone’s been improving, and some of our runners have been improving by minutes each week,” Cooke said.

The team’s most recent invitational was the Dana Hills Invite on Sept. 24, which was split into three divisions: D1, D2, and D3. The Brahmas raced in D2, though instead of their normal teams, they were split into groups based on grade. Around 30 teams attended. The majority of the runners were able to finish with new personal records.

At the team’s second  league meet on Sept. 27, however, the team did not fare as well. The girls again placed fifth out of six and the boys placed last.

“The weather was really hot and muggy, and that didn’t help us,” Cooke said. “Also, we’ve mostly been running flat courses, and the Bonelli Park course is hilly, so we had a lot of problems with kids not doing well, even compared to themselves.”

Cooke names seniors Paul Abdo, Dylan Kinney, and Austin DeCambra as some of the fastest boys on the team, while freshmen Natalie Santiago and Samantha Ruelas and sophomore Olivia Valdivia are the top three on the girls’ side. Since the top runners on the boys’ side are mostly seniors, the team will take a hit next year. However, Cooke says that three freshmen are in the top five on the girls’ team, meaning they will only continue to improve.

“I think we really need to improve on our training. The coach is trying to put in some good workouts but a lot of the time the team doesn’t want to do them,” Abdo said.

Abdo is currently facing some problems with his Achilles tendon. As a multi-year varsity runner in his senior year, Abdo says he believes it is better for runners to work things out on their own before asking for help.

“I haven’t been able to train as hard as I normally would. Once [the injury] goes away, I should be set up for the rest of the year,” Abdo said. “I think it’s better for [my teammates] to figure things out for themselves rather than getting all their information from me. I try to stay more reserved but if people ask me for advice I’ll help them out.”

The team’s next and final League meet will be on Oct. 29 at Bonelli Park.