Cross Country 2019 Season Preview

Cross Country 2019 Season Preview

Sofie Vogel and Ryan Bara

The Warriors couldn’t do it. The Heat couldn’t do it. Can the Paly cross country team do it? A three-peat is considered one of the most impressive achievements in sports, yet few have been able to reach that milestone – or perhaps for that exact reason. The Palo Alto Cross Country team aims to dominate the SCVAL’s for the third year in a row. After a thrilling last season, with both the girls and boys cross country teams winning the SCVAL’s finals, the cross country team is ready to get back into action in this upcoming season. Returning head coach Michael Davidson and the new underclassmen, along with the new senior class, are excited to dominate this season.  


The Palo Alto cross country team had a great season last year, with both the women and men winning leagues. On the girls’ side, after winning SCVAL’s finals, they unfortunately did not do as well at CCS. The boys, on the other hand, were able to place third in CCS and go on to states. Ian Matheson (‘20), one of this year’s upcoming senior captains, reflects on the journey to CCS and beyond.


“We went to CCS and just barely got third by one point which allowed us to go to states,” Matheson said. “Unfortunately in states we didn’t run that well but we made it as a team which was awesome.” 


The cross country team has put in a lot of hard work preparing for this upcoming season – both the boys and girls teams want to get to states this year. The team is working its hardest to be better than ever this new season which requires a lot of offseason training.


“Offseason prep includes a lot of long miles,” Matheson said. “Over the summer I was hitting about 50 miles a week so around 8 miles a day with a long run like 12. It’s a lot of running but it’s good training.”


With the new season comes significant change, including roster shake-ups that will force the team to adapt to fresh faces.


“Since last year we unfortunately lost our top five varsity boys so that will definitely be a big hit to the team, and we also lost our assistant coach Windy Smith who has left the team,” Matheson said. “So we now only have one coach. It’ll be interesting to see where that goes.”


The boy’s team can’t expect to have the same dynamic as last year’s with the loss of five varsity players, and developing chemistry will be a central job for Matheson as team captain.


“The seniors last year were very energetic and a lot of guys on the cross country team were very reserved and didn’t like to get out of their comfort zones,” Matheson said. “Last year, seniors were really good at getting people out of their comfort zones and this year as an upcoming captain I see it as my job to get people out of their comfort zone and have a good time on runs and make great friendships.”


The cross country team has put in a lot of hard work towards having an outstanding season and is hoping to make it to states. But that’s no easy task – athletes will be heavily reliant on a strong team foundation, not simply aerobic capacity and leg endurance. The team values friendship along with a good work ethic, tenets they’ll keep in mind as they pursue their season goals.


“[Our] team goals would be trying to keep up with last year,” Matheosn said. “We want to qualify to states as a team again. Last year when we did that it was super fun, and I think it would be epic to bring the new underclassmen into it and have a good time.”


The team also looks forward to playing against their rivals Los Altos in this upcoming season. They have had great competition in the past with this team and are excited to keep the rivalry going.  


“Paly’s rival in cross country is definitely Los Altos,” Matheson said. “Last year we had some great competition with them through SCVAL’s finals and CCS. We were always going head to head and this year we’re definitely going to continue that battle.”


The Paly cross country team is very excited to start the new season. The friendship and work ethic on this team is amazing, and they have their minds set on making States again this year.