Girls’ XC Wins 7th Consecutive NCS Title

Sarah Naughten, Sports Editor

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While the girls’ squad dominated their race, scoring an exceptionally low 23 points to claim its 7th consecutive title, the Cougar boys were denied a victory by section rivals, Maria Carrillo, at the North Coast Section (NCS) championships at Hayward High School on November 23. 

Senior Paloma Hancock earned the girls’ Division 3 individual title while junior Dylan Gunn topped all competitors in the boys’ D3 race.

Freshman Ellie Buckley placed 2nd, just 3 seconds behind Hancock in the girls’ race.

Hancock, who was sidelined early in the season due to an injury sustained in the spring said, “I honestly wasn’t expecting [to win the race] just because my season started super late, and I know that my coaches had it in mind, but I honestly hadn’t really thought about it.”

The varsity girls’ were dominant at each of the 5 scoring positions, out-distancing 2nd place Alameda High School by an astounding 85 points

Hancock was impressed with the performance of freshman Zoe Theulier, the Cougars’ 5th finisher, who placed 13th with a time of 18:37. “She really amazes me every single race. She just keeps on improving by a lot and she has so much potential,” said Hancock.

With the dominating section win, the girls’ squad heads to Fresno as the heavy favorites to win their 5th state championship at the CIF meet on Saturday, November 30.  They will face off against long-time rival Palos Verdes High School among other contenders from across the state.

While the girls team was celebrating their victory, the boys’ squad struggled to match up with top ranked Maria Carrillo.  After a promising start that saw the Cougars hanging tough with the Pumas, the defending section champions began to fade. 

According to head coach Chuck Woolridge, his #4 and #5 scorers struggled in the later stages of the race.

In fact, with just a 1/4 of a mile to the finish, senior Cayden Hein, who had been running in 4th position for the squad, collapsed.  The 2-year veteran had just returned to the lineup after a 2-month layoff due to a foot injury. Before he was sidelined, he had been the Cougars’ top performer.

“I am proud of him for getting out there despite all of his problems and all the pain that he has gone through. He’s a tough kid and I am really proud of him for being out here today,” said Gunn of his teammate’s struggles.

Though the squad missed out on the NCS championship, they will advance to the state championships, and a rematch against the Pumas.

Woolridge was impressed with the performance of freshman Alex Lodewick, who placed 3rd with a time of 15:17.

“I think Lodwick’s performance is a testament to the positive energy that Dylan Gunn brings to the whole squad. We just need a few more of those key points to jump onto that train and we could turn the tables next week at state,” Woolridge said. 

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