The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

Grizzly cross country makes history

Boys place second at NCS, advance to state finals
Junior+Eshann+Hussain%2C+seen+here+running+at+a+home+meet+earlier+this+season%2C+placed+fifth+at+the+NCS+Championships+to+help+lead+the+Grizzlies+to+a+second+place+finish.+He+also+finished+in+the+top+80+of+more+than+180+Division+1+runners+at+the+CIF+State+Finals+on+Nov.+25.
Alexander Gomes
Junior Eshann Hussain, seen here running at a home meet earlier this season, placed fifth at the NCS Championships to help lead the Grizzlies to a second place finish. He also finished in the top 80 of more than 180 Division 1 runners at the CIF State Finals on Nov. 25.

The 2023 Cal High boys cross country had a historic season to remember.
The Grizzlies reached the CIF State Finals last month as a team for the second time ever after placing second at the NCS Championships.
The last time the Grizzlies advanced as a team was in 2017.
The CIF State Finals were Nov. 25 at Woodward Park in Fresno and featured in Cal’s division the top 21 schools and 182 runners from throughout the state. It was an exciting day for the team as it had been most runners’ first time being at the State Finals.
“What I told the team was enjoy the moment,’ coach Nicholas Shea said. “Getting there was the victory, so enjoy the moment.”
The day was nice at Woodward Park’s 3.2-mile course, slightly longer than what the team faced at the NCS Championships, but the runners represented Cal well.
Junior Eshann Hussain finished first for the Grizzlies and placed 79th with a time of 16:02.
“I wanted to get sub 16 [minute time] that day,” Hussain said. “But there was a lot of hills, so it felt terrible.”
Hussain was followed by senior Andrew Pruitt (102nd), junior Aidan Dube (156th), junior Jonathan Lawrence (161st), and senior Blake Lemmon (177th). The top five of seven runners’ places count toward the team’s overall finish.
Sophomore Timmy Niu and freshman Gustavo Mendes de Oliveira also represented Cal, but they did not finish among the top five for the team.
“Being in Division 1, those are the biggest schools and probably the most competitive schools as well,” Shea said.
This was the second of two races for the Grizzlies over Thanksgiving break. The first one is what helped Cal make school history.
The Grizzlies took the NCS Championships by storm on Nov. 18 when two of their runners placed in the top 10 and two others finished among the top 16, helping Cal claim its best finish in school history.
Hosted at Hayward High, the section’s top 55 runners took on the rugged 3-mile course featuring both hills and long trails. To add insult to injury, the weather was extremely brutal on the day of the race as a massive rainstorm and strong winds contributed to the challenge of running on a muddy course.
“It was raining a lot,” Hussain said. “It was like first time I saw [a course] properly muddy.”
The unexpected weather conditions didn’t make the race any easier for the runners, but it wasn’t like they came unprepared. Cal’s game plan was to keep behind other runners for the first mile, allowing them to get tired and then toward the end of the race make a push to pass everyone.
“Our race plan kind of all year long was allowing other teams, especially if it’s a soggy slow course, to burn themselves out and then do most of the work in mile three,” Shea said.
Hussain was the first Grizzly to cross the finish line by placing fifth with a time of 16:07.
“I believe that I could have ran a bit faster,” Hussain said, “but overall I was happy with where I placed.”
He was soon followed by Lawrence in eighth at 16:22, Dube (11th, 16:25), Pruitt (16th, 16:40), and Lemmon (22nd, 17:04).
This gave Cal a team score of 62 points, which was good enough for second, ahead of Dougherty Valley’s 65 points and Berkeley’s 66. Dublin won NCS with 52 points.
Each placement correlates to a specific number of points. Since Cal’s top five runners placed fifth, ninth, 11th, 16th and 22nd, the team earned 62 points. The top three teams in the NCS qualified for the State Finals as a team.
The girls NCS race kicked off an hour after the boys and Cal had one runner who just missed advancing to the State Finals as an individual.
Senior Audrey Ackerman ran the race of her life in the same rainy, windy and muddy conditions as the boys, but she just missed advancing by a single point.
Ackermann was the first on the team to cross the finish line with a personal-best time of 19:43, placing ninth overall.
In order to qualify as an individual for the State Finals, runners need to be among the top five individuals who are not on the three teams that qualify for state.
This unfortunately resulted in Ackermann missing the chance to go to the finals by a mere point. Had Dougherty finished in the top three, Ackermann would have advanced as an individual because some of Dougherty’s runners would have qualified with their team instead of individually.
“When you’re out there and running your all it’s so hard to keep that,” Ackermann said. “But then, in my mind, I was just like, if you stop now, you will regret it for the rest of your life.”
Ackerman was followed by freshman Emily Bellinger (22nd), senior Kayla Fong (24th), junior Isabella Nubla (32nd), and sophomore Elise Lee (38th).
“It was my last race,” Ackermann said. “I was glad I gave it my all.”
The team finished with a total score of 120 points and placed sixth overall.
“The boys qualifying for state I think really kind of gives a little more perspective on what is possible for the girls team,” Shea said.

From left to right, runner Audrey Ackerman, Mahima Chaudhary and Isabella Nubla race to the finish line during a home meet earlier this season. Ackerman finished ninth at the NCS Championships last month and missed advancing to the CIF State Finals by a single point. (Alexander Gomes)
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About the Contributor
Suhas Chalasani, Staff Writer
Suhas Chalasani is a sophomore at Cal High and it is his first year as a staff writer. He joined the newspaper class in hope of learning and developing his writing skills. During his free time he enjoys playing video games, going to the gym, and listening to music.

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