Head start for Cross Country

Samyuktha Vellaiyan, Staff Writer

After getting familiar with the Diamond Bar High School Cross Country team in her first year as head coach, Malinalli Cooke hopes to take the Brahma runners to the next level.

Over the summer break, Cooke held weekly practices that improved the speed of both returning Brahmas and newcomers while preparing the students for this upcoming season’s tryouts. The practices also allowed new members to familiarize themselves with the campus  course while the experienced runners either trained on their own or helped Cooke instruct the newcomers.

Tryouts were held after school on Aug. 15 and 16, during which the applicants were required to participate in timed runs. This year, Cooke was especially pleased with the number  of underclassmen who competed for a spot.

“It was great to have many new freshmen and sophomores try out this season,” Cooke said. “Some of the kids are brand new and have never run before, and that’s OK because they are young and trainable.”

Although the team lost three of their top runners, Paul Abdo, Dylan Kinney and Austin DeCambra, to graduation, Cooke is confident that the team will ascend after successfully completing the new summer program.

“One major difference between this year and last year was summer training, which really helped improved our team’s speed,” Cooke said. “Even though we may not have those fast kids, our team as a whole is faster.”

This years captains are Juniors Frederick Yang and Allison Kang. The new top runners for the boys are senior William Liang, juniors Thomas Ear and Garrett Miller and sophomores George Rosales and Lukas Amare. On the girls team, the top runners are juniors Allison Kang and Karyn Real, and freshmen Keili Ishitani, Victoria Artale and Allison Ear.

“I’m really glad I received this opportunity to be captain this year and to interact with the team from a captain’s perspective,” Kang said. “This year I hope to achieve a closer bond within the team and for them to trust me to make the right decisions for the team.”

In order to avoid the scorching summer temperatures, the cross country team ran early in the morning. Now, however, the team has to re-adapt to the temperature changes as they have afternoon practice.

“Because of the heat, many of the players are forgetting to hydrate, which leads to many cramps and some fainting,” Cooke said. “But at least, it is not as hot as it was last year.”

Now that Cooke is familiar with all the players, she anticipates major improvements for this season. She started implementing Saturday practices every morning of every week for two hours, excluding game days. In addition to the extra hours of practice, Cooke spices things up with activities on Fridays, such as Starbucks runs, annual watermelon run, freeze tag and ultimate Frisbee.

“This year my main focus is on team building. Even though it may seem like an individual sport, we are racing as a team, and I hope that the summer training helped enforce a team mentality,” Cooke said.

On Aug. 24, the team participated in the Roadrunner Summer Series at Creekside Park, Walnut as preseason practice.

Then, on Sept. 2, the team had its first season meet at Arcadia County Park, where they ran two miles. Ishitani led the girls’ team by finishing in seventh place with a time of 12:59. Following Ishitani were sophomore Natalie Santiago and freshman Victoria Artale with times of 13:01 and 14:04. Along with the Lady Brahmas, Rosales led the boys’ team, finishing in 24th place with a time of 11:21. Following Rosales were seniors Joshua Panuro and Nathan Sinn with times of 12:17 and 12:25.