The Challenge of the Switchbacks: Varsity Cross Country

Ilene Gonzales October 24, 2013 1
The Challenge of the Switchbacks: Varsity Cross Country

The ultimate challenge is coming up for  Archer’s varsity cross-country team at Mt. San Antonio College, also known as Mt. Sac.  On Friday, Oct. 25, they are participating in Mt. Sac’s challenging three-mile course consisting of the infamous  “Valley Loop,”  “Switchbacks,” “Poop Out Hill,” and “Reservoir Hill.”

The varsity team—which includes Tara DiMaio ’14, Yasmeen Namazie ’15, Francesca Pavia’15, Ilene Gonzales’16, Marcela Riddick’16, Zaire Dupont-Armstrong’16, Ari Brown ’16, Grace Brown’16, Yolani Alvarez’16, Micaela Paulson’16, Iman Hussain ’16, Leyla Namazie’16, Grace Heck’17, Isabella Hansel’17, and Sarah Waltson ’17—has been training for several weeks now.

The duration of Mt. Sac’s first meet goes way back to 1948 where athletes had to run 1.2 to 2 miles. The meets now extend to the modern standard of 3 miles.

Cross country began in England during the 19th century. England first referred to it as a game called “the paper chase”. During the game there was a group of runners who would run leaving a trail of paper behind. A second group would then follow, “chasing” the first group. This sport was popular training and a way for children to get rid of energy on summer days. Over time cross country has become more advanced and involves a lot less paper.

Middle and Upper School Cross Country, 2013.  Photographer: Amelia Mathis

Middle and Upper School Cross Country, 2013.
Photographer: Amelia Mathis

Tara DiMaio, the only senior on the team, shared that having more underclassmen than last year has brought a greater level of school spirit and energy to the team. She has been participating in cross country since ninth grade and told us, “I really did not want to do fitness, and someone convinced me to join the team; and I have to be honest, the first two weeks I really disliked it, but after that I really liked it and kept coming back—and now I love it.”

Having ran at Mt. Sac for the first time last year Tara said, “It’s very hot and it’s very hilly, but you feel very accomplished when you get it done.” She added,  ”We’ve been training for so long that we can do it and we have the ability to finish the race even if it seems really hard.”

So do these LA girls have what it takes to run in the Valley? The girls always aim to do their very best, and just like other sports, having others there to cheer them on has such impact on the outcome of the race. The team would love the Archer community’s support: students have the day off while the faculty participates in professional development, so it is a great opportunity to motivate the runners and show school spirit.

Featured Image: Varsity Cross Country Team, 2013. Photographer: Amelia Mathis

One Comment »

  1. Kristin Taylor October 29, 2013 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    Here is an update on the meet from captain Tara DiMaio ’14:

    The cross country team ran in the biggest meet in the COUNTRY on Friday- the infamous Mt. SAC! Over 20,000 runners come every year for a course that has been the same for over six decades, complete with intense switchbacks and a mini mountain appropriately named “Poop Out Hill.” Many members of the cross country team competed in this challenging course for the second time (juniors Yasmeen and Francesca, sophomore Ari) as well as brave newcomers to the race (sophomores Ilene, Grace, Zaire, and Ali, freshman Leyla). Sophomores Yolani and Marcela also came to Mt. SAC despite being injured, and cheered on the team the whole time! Although the team was entered in a division higher than usual, everyone still worked hard and finished strong, making our coach proud! Right now our team is training for two last meets, one tomorrow at North Hollywood Park and League Finals next Friday at Rancho Park, please come support if you can! Check out the Athletics page for more information.

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