The Mammoth High School Cross Country Team, often the smallest of teams at invitational events, fared well last weekend at the 38th Annual Bellarmine X-Country Invitational. (Submitted photo)
Team may be small, but it’s mighty
On Sept. 24 the Mammoth High School cross country team ran in the 38th Annual Bellarmine X-Country Invitational at Griffith Park, in Los Angeles, Calif. The Bellarmine course is hilly and 2.9 miles in length. More than 100 high schools and 3,500 runners were present on race day. Schools ranged in size from division one, (the largest high schools), to division five, (Mammoth was the smallest). Many nationally and state ranked runners were present. As an early season test, Mammoth’s coaches challenged the team by entering them in the large schools division (2000 kids and up).
The J.V. boys from Mammoth, got things started. Trevor Meads, Jack Roten, and Phil Oxford were all entered in the J.V. race with more than 200 runners. All three faired well. Meads had the top finish for Mammoth with a time of 19:10, Roten 21:58, and Oxford in 25:31.
Head coach Scott Luke and Assistant coach Rob Friedl had been looking forward to the J.V. girls race after the early season success the Mammoth girls have had. Running in the large school race they did not falter: Jody Meads, finished 8th, with a time of 20:01. Meads was the top freshman finisher. Hailey Hugelman, with only a mile to go, was in 23rd position, and had to pass three runners to medal. Coaches and team mates cheered her on as Hugelman ran them down, one by one, finishing with a time of 20:49 and capturing the final medal with a 20th place finish. The team and coaches were elated.
The small but mighty two person girls team shares a close bond. Hugelman realized a lot of success early on during her freshman year, while Jody Meads joined the team this year a bit uncertain of the ins and outs of high school racing. A combination of work ethic, coaching and Hugelman’s mentorship has helped lead Jody to three medals in her first three races, a very exciting feat.
The last race of the day involved Mammoth’s Toby Qualls who won a lower division race at this course last year. The coaches wanted Qualls to run in the varsity sweepstakes invitation only race set aside for the top teams in the state. Because Mammoth does not have enough runners for a full varsity team, Qualls was almost denied a spot in this race. A last minute decision however, allowed Qualls into the race.
“The pace of this race was amazing as were the quality of the participants” said Coach Luke. Qualls ran a great race coming in 6th place in 14:51, for the 2.9 mile course.Only seven runners of 3,500, broke the fifteen minute barrier and he was the only Junior to do so, with a time 54 seconds faster than last year. Andrew Kastor, a professional coach who donates his time and expertise to the team, stated, “what impresses me the most about Toby is his commitment to training along with completing his academic work load.”