The infamously determined and reputable Foothill cross country team finished their regular season with a bang at Tri-County Athletic Association (TCAA) League Finals on Nov. 1. The meet at Lake Casitas is practically home turf for the Dragons as they frequently compete on this course.
The Dragons competed against Thacher, St Bonaventure, Cate, Providence (Santa Barbara), Bishop Diego and Laguna Blanca. This meet qualifies for CIF prelims, causing the stakes to be high for the team.
Assistant coach Jason Dinkler stated that “the goal is to send both teams” to the state meet, which is qualified for based on rankings in CIF Finals. Due to the competitive nature of this meet, the first seven Foothill finishers are considered varsity and everyone else is junior varsity. There were only two races during this meet, one for the boys’ team and one for the girls’ team. They were both 3.11 miles.
The scoring and rulers for the meet are slightly different in league finals and CIF. In league finals, only the top seven runners count in the race. Moving on into CIF, each team can only compete with seven runners in the following rounds. Also, some teams alter their strategy and reserve their fastest runner for bigger meets (i.e. state, CIF Finals) because the runners do not need to compete in each of the previous races as long as their team qualifies.
The Dragons are four-time defending league champions, which motivated the teams to uphold their status as a powerhouse program. Brooke Secreto ‘21 proudly declared that at previous meets, “someone on the line was like, ‘oh that’s Foothill Tech,’ and it makes me feel good.” Going into CIF, the Dragons are pushed by positive stress and pride to go far.
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams swept the meet, earning first place overall.
Brothers Henry Pick ‘19 and Oliver Pick ‘21 snatched the top two Foothill spots, finishing in first (15:50.76) and third (16:19.52), respectively, in the boys’ three-mile race. The Dragons dominated overall, earning six of the top ten spots.
Oliver Pick stated that the goal is to get on the podium at the state meet, but the path to success is rockier than the previous year because a large portion of their varsity runners graduated in 2018. A younger team means a change in strategy because their spread is farther apart than usual this year. Oliver Pick is confident that if they “really have to work together as a team in the workouts, we get that team mentality and we can do really well.”
”As coach says, the money is in the bank; we just need to make withdrawals,” Oliver Pick said.
The defending state champions took seven of the top ten spots in the girls’ three-mile race. Secreto and Lauren Kearney ‘19 battled it out for first place, finishing at 18:52.88 and 19:05.45, respectively, to secure the top two finishes for Foothill. Secreto stressed how crucial “relying on her teammates” is to achieve their goals. She also reflected on the shift to a more serious mindset during CIF season because “the goal [becomes] so much closer that I can work a little bit harder.”
The last three weeks of the season are slightly different in the training style as there is much less volume, and runners are allowed to use flats. The team focuses on technicalities as every fraction of a second counts. According to Dinkler, now is the time for “refining and fine-tuning the things that they’ve been working on all season.”
The Dragons will advance to compete in the Division IV Southern Section CIF Prelims on Nov. 10 in Riverside.
Depending on their performance in Prelims, the Dragons could advance to CIF Finals, which is the qualifier for the state meet.
“The hay is in the barn so to speak, and now we benefit from all the training they’ve been doing,” Dinkler said.
To view the complete results from the TCAA League Finals, click here.