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Originally published on October 10, 2014

“I was a bit nervous at the start, but once the gun fired, the adrenaline got to me.”

Crowds of people wait by the finish line on the grassy field, looking up the hill expectantly. Suddenly, a flash of colors — the cross country runners have appeared, and the silence breaks as the crowd begins to cheer on the athletes. Another race comes to a close at the Lowell Invitational.

On Saturday Sept. 20, the Lowell cross country team competed in their first meet of the season at Speedway Meadow in Golden Gate Park. Throughout the day, nearly eighty high school teams throughout the state took part in this meet, with runners of all shapes and sizes taking part in thirteen different races.

Sophomore Mikolaj Krajewski (center) competes in the Lowell Invite in Golden Gate Park on Sept. 20. Photo by Zoe Kaiser

The course had some hazards, including the wet grass at the end of the course, which caused a slightly slippery end to the long races.

The course was 2.13 miles for the frosh-soph races and 2.93 miles for the JV and varsity races, consisting of mostly of dirt paths and many hills. The course had some hazards, including the wet grass at the end of the course, which caused a slightly slippery end to the long races.

To prepare for the competition, the team had strong practices in the week leading up to the meet. “The long, slow distance runs on Mondays helped strengthen our legs, and the other days simulated a race pace,” junior Matthew Sam said. “Our Wednesdays are track practices, which get us working on race paces, and gets your lungs used to what it would feel like in a race.”

Junior Kristen Leung runs hard in the meet. Leung placed second in the varsity girl’s first race. Photo by Zoe Kaiser

“It was a good thing that our veterans knew how the invite would run, so they were able to help the newcomers.”

Despite that head coach Chad Chiparo was not able to lead the team during the race day, the team was left in good hands. “It was a good thing that our veterans knew how the invite would run, so they were able to help the newcomers,” team manager junior Maggie He said.

Out of the 6 races Lowell competed in, some students were successful, including sophomores Mikolaj Krajewski and Sierra Brill placing first in the Sophomore boy’s first race and Frosh-Soph girl’s second race, respectively. Junior Kristen Leung also placed second in the varsity girl’s first race.

Krajewski placed first in the Sophomore boy’s first race. Photo by Zoe Kaiser

“I just tried to apply my experiences from track.”

For Krajewski, this was his first cross country race, and his victory came to him as a surprise. “I wasn’t expecting to get first,” he said. “I just tried to apply my experiences from track.”

As for Brill, who is racing in this meet for her second time, she felt confident of her race. “I started out the race cruising because I didn’t want to burn out at the end — I started surging after the rolling hills, and kicked after the big tree,” she said.

Sophomore Sierra Brill (right) leads the Cardinals on Sept. 20 at the Lowell Invite. Almost 80 high school teams competed at the meet. Photo by Zoe Kaiser

“The long, slow distance runs on Mondays helped strengthen our legs, and the other days simulated a race pace.”

Despite such successes, Lowell was not quite as triumphant in the varsity boy’s race, where the Cardinals were unable to place higher than 20th. However, the results did not crush the athletes’ spirits. “I was a bit nervous at the start, but once the gun fired, the adrenaline got to me,” junior Marvin Luong said. “We all got tired towards the middle, but it was a good race overall.”

In the end, the team left the race with confidence. “The final times from the race represent a good start to the season, since many runners were new and did not have a lot of cross country experience,” He said.

With the next race quickly coming up, the team looks forward with a small goal in mind. “We hope that the runners will continue to work hard and develop their race pace,” He said.

Brill placed first in the Frosh-Soph girl’s second race. Photo by Zoe Kaiser
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WATCH: Cross Country outruns competition at Lowell Invite