Mustangs Thrive At Crystal Springs Cross Country Invitational

By: Kylie Brunelli

Saturday morning, the day of the Homecoming Dance, the Monte Visa Cross Country Team woke up early to go to the Crystal Springs Invitational, a race located just north of San Mateo. Among the team, Crystal Springs is a dreaded name because the course has many treaturous hills. The course sits at the top of a mountain, and it features a breathtaking view of San Mateo and the Crystal Springs Reservoir. The race begins of a downhill, and competitors race down for about 1/2 mile. Then, they come up the massive hill, and they go on a winding trail with lots of ups and downs. As a runner, however, it mostly feels like a constant uphill.

Boys Varsity at the beginning of the race. Video by: Lisa Ponzio

This hill intimidated many runners, including Team Captain, James Ponzio. He recalled that it “really blew …[him] up, and a lot of people caught up to …[him].” Luckily, he “made up for it on the downhill after,” and he ended up placing 9th with a personal best of 15:58. Teammate James Rose, however, used the hill as an opportunity to save time. Unfortunately, this “took a lot of energy,” which became a challenge for the remainder of the race. During the last 200 meters, he pushed past his fatigue, and “tried to build as much speed as he could” while running uphill to the finish line. This was worth it, and he passed a few people, making this “the first race this season…[he] felt strong doing.” Rose finished 71st in 17:27.

James Ponzio tears by. Photograph by: Liza Ponzio
James Rose looks determined after climbing the crazy hill. Photograph by: Liza Ponzio

When the girls ran, it was super foggy. Although it was cooler, there was no way to scope out the course. This included the giant hill, and the girls, including myself, a member of the Girls Varsity team, had to run it blind. Because of the fog, after about two miles, I personally expected the race to be over. At every turn, I expected to see the final 200 meters, but my hopes were constantly dashed. Team Captain, Caelan Gilliam, agreed the last mile was “the most difficult section mentally.” The end couldn’t have come sooner. Caelan said the “best moment” of the Invitational “was both…[her] finish and being done with the race.” She took 20th in 21:02 and I finished 22nd in 21:05. The only other female athlete from the girls team, Kayla Rader, came 74th in 25:39.

After-race triumphant photograph of Girls Varsity. Photograph by: Lisa Ponzio