Blazers boys claim first, second; girls claim first, second, third
EINSTEIN HIGH SCHOOL, Sept. 16 -
Blair cross country defeated Einstein by a large margin at Tuesday's meet, despite a twisted and poorly marked course, according to Blazer runners. Senior captain Rutvij Pandya came in first in the boy's competition, followed closely by senior Greg Vogel who clinched second. The girls were also victorious, with junior Roxanne Oroxom taking first place, senior captain Elaine Chung arriving second and sophomore Theresa Regan stealing third overall.
In the girls' race, Einstein runners established a slight lead at the offset, but Chung and Oroxom had eliminated all competition by the one mile marking, and kept a steady pace shoulder to shoulder for the majority of the race. "Elaine is probably one of the toughest runners I've ever met," Oroxom admitted. "My strategy is to try to run with her - and pass her." The approach was successful, and Coach Eric Prange is more than satisfied with their performance. "The girls did really well," he commented. "It could have been close, but Elaine, Roxanne and Theresa took off strong in the beginning, which allowed us to clinch the meet."
On the boys' side, Blazer runners Pandya and Vogel jutted out as soon as they were off the starting mark. Their lead lengthened as the race continued, putting Pandya at least ten or fifteen yards ahead of the first Einstein runner at the one mile marking. The pair powered through the finish, claiming the top two titles as expected.
Sophomore Jeremy Ardanuy also ran a speedy race, passing at least two runners within the last half mile and impressing coaches and team members alike. "I'm really proud of Jeremy," senior captain Frank Wen said. "I was hoping he would pass the Einstein runners because I didn't, and I was supposed to – that was my job," he admitted, smiling.
Prior to the start, Coach James Demma was unsure about the meet's outcome. "This isn't our best day," he said before the race, justifying that the lack of two key varsity runners could pose a threat to a Blazer victory. But as soon as Demma saw Einstein fall behind, he knew the Blazers would be successful. "This team is totally beatable," Demma declared about Einstein during the race. Especially with the two teams cheering each other on from the sidelines, the Blazers were able to push past opposing runners to ensure a triumph.
But the meet was not completely without difficulties. The running course at Einstein, which included a narrow wooded trail and zigzagging paths, was unexpectedly winding, complex and poorly marked. The course forced runners to re-trace their steps and return to the same areas more than once, which triggered confusion. Four Blair girls, along with a few Einstein runners, lost their way and consequently faced longer times. For these unlucky few, the three mile race went on longer than desired.
"That would have been such a good race if I hadn't run four miles," senior Abby Cember said. Prange attempted to defend the course as a simple mistake. "To their credit, it was the first time they had ever done that course. And it is a small campus, so there had to be lots of twists and turns," he said. "There wasn't that much they could do." Prange did admit, however, that it was both confusing and frustrating for the runners.
Despite a Blazer victory, the team can still learn from Einstein's runners. "For a good part of the first half, they gave us a run for our money," Oroxom said. Wen agreed that Einstein, although defeated, possessed certain desirable qualities. "They are more organized than we are," he said. "And we have to work on that."
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