veritas exquirere

Talon

veritas exquirere

Talon

veritas exquirere

Talon

Varsity Boys Cross Country make it to CIF State

The team ended the season with a bang making it to state for the first time in nine years
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For the first time in nine years, the Oak Park High School varsity boys cross country team qualified for CIF state. After endless training and persistent hard work, the boys accomplished an incredible feat, placing tenth out of 25 teams at this exclusive meet. 

“The state meet was on another level, having the best in the state running with me made the adrenaline kick in and the experience exhilarating,” sophomore Ethan Marley said. 

With the best of the best coming to this meet from all around the state, some runners felt the pressure build-up. Regardless, they had fun bonding with each other and experiencing the meet in all its glory.

“It was about as fun as a race can be – it hurt a lot but it was nice knowing you were in a race with the top D3 runners in California,” junior Mark Hodges said. “Probably the funnest part was everything we did in Fresno other than the race – having a nice dinner and sleeping overnight at the hotel among other things.”

Along with all the fun and racing, the runners also accomplished working through challenges, from the struggles of putting on racing gear to mental blocks. 

“My hardest challenge going into the race was putting on the bib but I ended up getting a coach to do it,” sophomore Kean Castaneda said. “I wish I would have tied my shoe better.”

Although cross country is viewed as  an individual sport, the team aspect is vital to each racer. 

“I enjoy the team and how everyone supports each other as we all strive to become faster runners,” junior Shreyam Bhattacharya said. “Running such long distances at such quick speeds is quite difficult but the support of the team is what keeps us going.” 

Aside from teamwork, there were some great individual accomplishments. Hodges placed second on the team and 70th overall in his race, finishing the season with a bang. 

“The hardest challenge with cross country is consistently showing up every day and training the best you can,” Hodges said. “Last year I had an iron deficiency anemia and was running in the 19-20 minute 3 mile range. Now I can run in the 15-16 minute 3 mile range.”

These runners put in the hard work and dedication and every second of it shows on the tracks.

“I feel as my hard work paid off as I have worked hard this season and have been pushing myself and have been pushed by my teammates and this allowed me to put my best effort out there,” Castenada said. “I would have preferred to end on a stronger note but I am happy we made it all the way to state.” 

The runners have a new set of expectations and look forward to the years to come. 

“I am beyond satisfied with this season, winning the sophomore race at Woodbridge to go to state made my season,” Marley said. “Individually I wish I had a little more left in the tank [during CIF state], wasn’t my greatest race but still performed well.” 

In the end, the OPHS cross-country team felt triumphant.

“I am most proud of the team, from being the underdogs in every race, having coaches and parents complain about us succeeding, and a great journey to state,” Marley said. “I couldn’t be more proud.” 

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Caroline Bi, Senior Staff Artist
Class of 2026 Caroline has been part of the Talon staff for 2 years. She has previously served as a Staff Writer and enjoys writing feature pieces.
Emily Gluskin, Opinion Editor
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