Cross Country Opens Season at Vista Ridge Invite

By Nima Ashtari, Community & World News Editor

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  • Pablo Lomeli '21, Zach Carver '21, and Nima Ashtari '20 jostle for space at the start of the race.

    Photo By Frazier Newlin

  • Junna Castel '20 closes in on the finish line.

  • Rachel Iyer '22 competes against another runner in the final stretch of the race.

  • The boys huddle before the start of their race.

  • The varsity girls smile for a picture before their race.

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After a grueling summer of training, the cross country team began racing on Friday, August 23 at the annual Vista Ridge Invitational, hosted by Vista Ridge High School. In a competitive field of 40 schools from across the state, the varsity boys stood out, earning 6th place overall, while the varsity girls grabbed an 11th place finish. Full results of Friday’s race are linked here.

“I feel like the team was dedicated all summer with multiple guys and girls showing up each day to run,” Neil Panwalker ‘21 said. “What we did over the summer will really help us reach our goals this season.”

On the boys’ side, Nima Ashtari ‘20 clocked the fastest time for the Warriors, finishing the 5K in 16 minutes and 42 seconds, earning him fourth place. Pablo Lomeli ‘21 and Gavin Thomas ‘21 trailed close behind, taking 15th place and 59th place, respectively. 

In the varsity girls’ race, newcomer Priya Gangadharan ‘23 pulled away from the rest of the Warriors, taking 23rd place overall with an impressive showing barely over 21 minutes. Sam Newlin ‘22 and Rachel Iyer ‘22 crossed the finish line close to a minute behind Gangadharan, completing the Warriors’ top three for the girl’s event.

The Vista Ridge course is infamously hilly and rocky, with thin pathways that lead to pushing, shoving, and tripping throughout the 3 mile race. This year’s event proved to be no exception, leading to slower than usual times for all runners.

“Personally, the course led to an underperformance for me as I got a minor injury halfway through the race due to the terrain,” Lomeli said. “I still think the team’s going to do really great this season. [Ashtari] and I are really close in fitness, and the whole team is set to grab huge [personal records] in next week’s race.”

The Warriors will race again at the Pro-Fit Invitational next Friday, August 30 in Temple, TX.