Huddled together at the start of their race while hundreds crowded the sidelines of the starting line of the D1 boys cross country CCS meet, seven MVHS boys prepared to run the course at Crystal Springs Cross Country Course.
Finishing in the top three teams, MVHS boys advanced to the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships for the first time in 10 years, led by Coach Craig Blockhus. Three runners finished in the top seven runners, with senior Emmanuel Leblond finishing second out of 143 runners, gaining a new personal record of 15:10.1.
Junior Evan Markelz and senior Nico Trepanier also finished in the top seven runners, earning medals alongside Leblond. Markelz finished sixth with a time of 15:48.8 and Trepanier finished seventh with a time of 15:53.3.
MVHS’s D1 girls team also ran the 2.95-mile Crystal Springs course. This course is famous for its “heartbreak hill,” a steep incline known for being a tough spot in the race. While the girls team did not advance to State Championships, Blockhus acknowledged the fierce competition the girls faced.
“The girls were in an exceptionally fast group. They ran well, but the field was stacked,” Blockhus said.
Junior Katherine Stone was the first MVHS girl to cross the finish line with a time of 19:43.4, finishing 23 out of 118 runners. Senior Ellie Montgomery ran her last race as a Spartan after being on cross country since her freshman year, with a time of 20:00.6, finishing 30th.
“I love cross country,” Montgomery said. “It’s surreal that this is the last [race], but it’s such a great team.”
Montgomery said she questioned herself during parts of the race and whether or not she should hold onto her pace, but made herself proud in the end.
“There’s a choice between do I keep this pace or drop off a little bit,” Montgomery said. “My biggest strength was holding on at some of the parts where I was tired.”
Leblond also said he made efforts to persevere during the race.
I showed a lot of mental strength even when I was absolutely gassed. At the end I was able to come back and claw my way up to a [personal record and a second place finish.Emmanuel Leblond
About ¾ of the way through this season, the teams went to Mt. Sac, a big California meet, where the boys team won, according to Blockhus. Leblond came in first and the boys team won overall, and the girls team won second overall, Blockhus said.
As freshmen, the current senior boys “didn’t look like they were going to be able to run very fast,” Blockhus said. According to Blockhus, however, they “just kept plugging along,” and are finishing their cross country careers at MVHS as part of the first boys team Blockhus has ever taken to CIF State Championships.
“They ran phenomenal. It was unreal,” Blockhus said.
Blockhus said he is very proud of the entire team, and happy with a successful day at CCS finals.
“I’m blessed,” Blockhus said. “Both teams, they’re a mature, fast, fun group.”