RUNNING: Cross-country team in rebuilding stage

 

Last fall turned into a magical season for the 2010 boys
cross-country team. Thanks to a strong senior class, the 10-man
team swept through the Tri-County Athletic League and if it wasn’t
for a fall in the Central Coast Section championships – many
runners would have found slots in the state championships.
Last fall turned into a magical season for the 2010 boys cross-country team. Thanks to a strong senior class, the 10-man team swept through the Tri-County Athletic League and if it wasn’t for a fall in the Central Coast Section championships – many runners would have found slots in the state championships.

This year, though, there could be some growing pains.

“We lost five seniors and we are rebuilding a bit this year,” head coach Jess Morales said.

The team will be young – very young, he said. As of now, only three seniors will occupy a spot on the 10-boy varsity squad. The team will include a freshman and three sophomores.

“We are a young group right now,” Morales said. “Some of the young guys will need to step up.”

One of those guys will be two-year varsity member and junior, Ricky Esqueda. The junior will need to take one of the empty leadership roles vacated by the graduating seniors.

Esqueda seems up to the challenge.

“We’ll look to work together and win together,” he said. “We want to run as a team and play in the top. We want everyone to succeed.”

As one of the few upperclassmen, Esqueda knows he has to help his young teammates when they need it. But he doesn’t expect a large drop-off from last year.

“They (younger teammates) have been running with us for a while,” Esqueda said. “They know what’s going on.”

To prepare for the new season, members and hopeful members of the varsity squad have been conditioning five times a week since the final day of school last year.

Every morning at 8 a.m. or afternoon at 3 p.m. the team gathered at the school to run laps and prepare for the new season. And most important, they run together.

“It’s important that they run together,” Morales said. “It’s a long season and it’s important that they are on the same page.”

The team runs along the newly-designated running path behind the school, Morales said. The team usually runs between three miles and six miles a day. But the distance isn’t as important as seeing the team work together.

“The challenge is to try to start in the right direction with the young guys,” Morales said. “They need to run together, as a group.”

And it’s up to the upperclassmen to do that.

“They will have to take what they learned last year from those guys and use it,” Morales said. “That’s what is great with having a young team – they learn as they go.”

And the team has until Sept. 10 – the first meet of the year – to get everything right, Morales said. The 17th annual Condor Earlybird Invitational at Salinas’ Toro Park will bring the best runners from around the area.

But the biggest meet of the year will be San Benito’s own – the first ever Earthquake Invitational on Oct. 1. The course will run alongside the San Andreas Fault and finish in Haybaler Stadium.

It is the first time the school has reached out and started its own meet.

“We are trying to get everyone we can,” Morales said. “Hopefully get some teams from Southern California.”

He continued, “It’s a big deal for us.”

For now, the team will focus on working together and preparing for the upcoming season. The team will spend its final week before school in Mammoth Lakes, Morales said. He hopes camping will bring them even closer together.

“We are rebuilding with these guys,” Morales said.

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