A good end to the season

BVH varsity cross country makes the most out of CIF race loss

On Saturday, Nov. 12 BVH raced against several different schools at Morley Field during the cross country CIF finals. Sophomore Aaron Tighe runs during the beginning of the race, trailed by varying schools.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, Bonita Vista High (BVH)  set up their cross country teams’ tents on Morley Field along with other high schools from San Diego county. Runners are seen preparing for the CIF race while others run the 2.96 mile course. Several BVH students from the varsity cross country team ran in the CIF race with18 other schools.

The girls’ varsity race was held at 10:40 a.m. while the boys’ race was at 12:20 p.m. Before races bega, runners stood along the course, preparing to cheer their students throughout the three miles. Cross country Head Coach Daniel Kettlehake prepared the runners up until this point. For sophomore Paulina Gutierrez, she had previously joined track and field last year in 2021 and found cross country has helped her improve her mile times.

“[Kettlehake] helped me speed up a lot,” Gutierrez said. “We did a lot of mile repeats. We would try to run a mile of our race pace and we would repeat that multiple times”

According to Gutierrez, BVH has placed well in previous races. However, runners found it difficult to compete against the dozens of students from other schools, due to the large range of Division I and the skills they would have to face. 

“With state, it is possible to place [in the race] as a team, because essentially, if you have your top five runners run a really good time, you can place [in the race],” Gutierrez said. “It’s a really tough competition; it’s not easy to make it to state.”

It’s a really tough competition; it’s not easy to make it to state.

— sophomore Paulina Gutierrez

CIF divisions are based on the population of a school, where bigger population results in being in a higher division. Since BVH has a population of 3,000 students, both girls and boys participated in the Division I race.

“We had to change our expectations [of the race] a little bit, everybody’s been really sick and that sucked the life out of us last week in league,” Kettlehake said. “We kind of ended up a little flat because of the illness that you can’t control.”

During the 2.96 mile-long race, runners find things that motivate them to keep pushing through the grass course although it is not easy. For Gutierrez, she finds that running for a new Personal Record (PR) motivates her the most.

“[The race] was irritating because you think you’re almost done, but you keep seeing more and more loops and more cones,” Gutierrez said.

As the first runner finishes at 17 minutes, girls speed near the end and sprinting towards the finish line chute. According to Gutierrez, cross country coaches encourage runners to sprint and finish the race strong.

“I think personally you feel motivated enough to sprint because it’s like you went through the whole thing, you might as well, you’re almost done,” Gutierrez said.

While Gutierrez finishes the rest of the course, freshman Leiani Wilson finishes first of the BVH runners. Wilson finished the race with 20:58 minutes, with sophomore Olympia Jara close behind her running the course in 21:08 minutes. 

“I actually questioned myself because I beat one of our fastest runners, but I felt good about it. I’m usually the top second or third [runner] and this time I finished first. So I surprised myself,” Wilson said. 

During the first mile of the race, Wilson falls behind some runners because of the hilly part of the course. Wilson’s goal was to pass the runners ahead of her and found motivation within that itself. 

“[I] talk to myself and tell myself that you got to speed up,” Wilson said. “I think about passing people, even if it won’t get me anywhere. Just passing them makes me feel better about myself during the race.”

Both Gutierrez and Wilson had their families’ supporting them during their race. For Wilson, their presence and support gave her confidence and the ability to pass runners ahead of her. Overall, the CIF race was a good end to Wilson’s  season and she plans on continuing cross country next year. 

The boys’ cross country team, while also supporting the girls’ race, prepared for their race in the afternoon with a mile dynamic. This is sophomore Aaron Tighe’s second year on cross country, but first time running the CIF race. This made him feel very nervous. Tighe finished with a time of 19:34 minutes.

“[It’s a] big important race [with] a lot of kids,” Tighe said. “I was hoping to get a sub 18 [minutes], but that didn’t happen because it’s hard.”

Sophomore Sebastian Aranda also has been a part of varsity cross country since he was a freshman. Aranda, felt healthy and was in a positive mood at the beginning of the race. As a whole, Aranda appreciates all the hard work him and his team accomplished in the last race of the cross-country season.  

“I wasn’ expecting us to do that great, but I was still expecting us to at least get somewhere. To me, it doesn’t really matter whether we place [in the race] or not,” Aranda said. “It matters that we’ve improved throughout the season, and overall, it shows that we can still run through this long season.”

Being in the Division I Race, according to Aranda, was the cause of his lack of motivation during the race. However, he continued to push through and finished the race first out of the BVH’s boys’ runners with a time of 17:39 minutes. Overall, the boys’ team finished in 16th place out of 18 schools. 

After both races, runners take a recovery jog  before  Kettlehake’s ending “speech.” He congratulates them for the end of the season and brings out cookies, brownies and cupcakes for the runners to enjoy.

“[Cross country] is a lot of work. The [kids] are disciplined, are great students and. they’re all really good friends,” Kettlehake said. 

Kettlehake prepares for track season in the spring. Although cross country’s 14-week long season is over, he looks forward to the varsity team’s improvement.

“You don’t look for an improvement from week to week. We look from season to season, year to year. The sophomore class, we’re really pushing them to get ready for their senior year so it’s just about continuing: showing up and working hard,” Kettlehake said.