At Saturday’s Conference Meet, I was visited by a high school teammate in town for our 20-year-reunion. As she watched the high school runners pouring into the chute, coaches calling out splits and urging on their athletes, she shook her head. “Wow,” she said. “Nothing really changes, does it?”
That is not how it feels to be a senior at that meet. Everything has changed. Where once they were neophytes, shoes unmarked by mud or miles, now they were in sight of a finish line marking the end to a very particular race. It is a time for review and reflection, of asking questions about the sacrifices made to shave just a few seconds off a PR, and to honor the friends made along the way.
We were fortunate to come away with Conference Championships at both levels, our 13th consecutive Varsity title. With two races condensing the various distinctions between Varsity and JV, the story of the day—and the season—is perhaps best told by class.
FRESHMEN: In a development that augers well for our future, our top five rookies poured over the line within twelve seconds of one another. Noah Schalliol (17:16) was trailed by Nathaneal Howard (17:18), Sachin Fong (17:18), Liam Dorsey (17:18), and Charlie Rook (17:28), each running a tactically different race, yet each achieving remarkably consistent results. PRs were also submitted by Max Mitchell (17:43), Jacob Nauman (17:50), Nick Rokosz (18:21), Alex Del Genio (18:37),Corey Papasthathis (18:48), Henry Golden (18:57), and sterling finishes uncorked by David He (19:24), Ben Serna (19:29), Andrew Gutierrez (19:33), Josh Kubicki (19:52), Luke Balika (19:59), Chase Parkhurst (20: 12), Patrick Conniff (20:24), Cory Yoo (20:27), Nick Rohlwing (20:34), Zach Thompson (20:35), Ashwin Rajan (21:13), Blake Fleming (21:25), Arun Palaniappin (21:39), Aum Suthar (23:35), Prithvi Thakur (25:01), Oliver Ni (27:44), and Aryan Shahu (30:16). With a tenacity and energy all their own, the Class of 2022 nonetheless seem poised to follow the path so well-worn by their predecessors.
SOPHOMORES: Smaller meets are decided by tight splits, and on Saturday the sophomores met showed themselves to be peerless in this regard. In the Varsity race, Nick Dovalovsky (15:44) and Vasant Fong (16:14) ran within decimals of their teammates, showing their mettle and nerve. But without them in the F/S race, the remaining sophomores needed to run with greater discipline and patience. After finding themselves pinned behind the lead pack through the one-mile, the sophs slowly worked their way up, with Ryan Horn (16:36), Brian Jett (16:40), Luke Mennecke (16:40), Luke Suman (16:41), and Stephen Smilie (16:44) finishing in the top ten with an incredible eight second 1-5 split, securing the victory. Similarly impressive results were recorded by Daniel Gutierrez (17:23), Leif Anderson (17:26), Aidan Stone (17:49), William Fu (18:05), Dominick Gramrosso (18:28), JD Hastings (18:46), Akshat Maheshwari (18:56) and Max Keenan (18:59), with Avik Vaish (19:01), Vedanth Ganesh (19:43), Hugo Hinze (19:49), Evan Restuccia (20:11), Andre Park (20:36), Henry Jordan (20:37), Angad Agrawal (21:31), Goutham Baskaran (21:59), Ted Walsh (22:35), Tony Cai (22:48), and Chris Chow authoring fitting codas to their seasons.
JUNIORS: Our smallest class proved no less committed to one another and our race plan, popping into the chute one after the other. Quinn Kennedy (16:33) led the way with his usual intrepid performance, followed by a banged-up Ramsay Johnson (16:57), a resurrected David Tassone (17:21), and a surging Sam Stuart (17:27), Josh Rodriguez (17:32), and Ethan Lockwood (17:51). Meanwhile, Joey Spencer (18:24), Jacoub Letourneau (19:26), James Teune (20:13), Ethan Smetana (20:15), Abood Armouti (20:17), Kevin Shaffer (20:29), Pranav Rajaraman (20:37), and Matthew Vivo (25:55) paced with purpose and kicked with gusto, fulfilling honorable seasons, each of them.
SENIORS: The day belonged, as it should, to the class of 2019, who spearheaded the Varsity effort and locked down our 13th consecutive Conference title. The Twin Turbines of Michael Madiol (15:08) and Chris Keeley (15:13) locked in early, and Matt Jett (15:40), Michael O’Connor (15:44), Spencer Teske (15:57), and Nick Drechsler (16:10) each did their best to keep the gap small. But everywhere you looked, there were different seniors reaping the harvest of so many faithful miles: Jack Orengo (16:21), with a tough second mile; Kevin Daneliak (16:27) lunging across the line; Blake Storoe (16:35) outkicking a competitor; Erik Thompson (17:37) pacing a teammate. There was Nate Spencer (18:35), charging over the hill; Andrew Scholderback (18:39), catching a passing a Mustang; Sahil Yemul (18:55), taking a risk; Joey Klaips (19:17), rippling his glorious mane; Patrick “P-Man” Kelly (19:28) outlasting a Huskie. Fitting conclusions were also authored by Evan Cooke (20:17), Neel Pai (20:24), Luke Hennecke (20:28), Vikram Sunderrajan (20:37), Alex Kiefer (20:29), Aidan Bell (20:52), Nick Pope (21:01), Shaheryar Raza (23:13), Michael Pintar (23:44), and Rahul Nair (26:33), each bringing their season—and in some cases their high school running career—to its coda.
The awards ceremony was a familiar scene, with our hardest-working and most courageous athletes draping themselves in glory. But it was hard not to feel more in the winds than just the autumn crispness; some books were opening to a fresh chapter, while others were turning their final page. Yet it is comforting to know that after four years—or 20—the fundamentals remain unchanged. The courses are the same. A mile remains a punishing, fixed distance. The screaming coaches, striving athletes, and stalwart parents are treasured archetypes. Fall comes, then winter, and everything is different in the spring. But the best things—those we build our lives upon—never change. Results