The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Winged Post

Cross-country senior night closes with CCS qualifications and personal records

Jessica Hu
The cross-country seniors pose with upper school cross-country head coach Kevin Oliver, holding up posters decorated by the team. “When we’re at meets, there’s a great team vibe where everyone is very supportive of each other,” senior Emma Gao said.

The cross-country team competed at their senior night meet, the West Bay Athletic League Finals hosted annually at the Crystal Springs cross-country course, on Nov. 3. They celebrated their six seniors, Laurel Davies, Emma Gao, Ethan Liu, Dustin Miao, Veyd Patil and Adam Sayed. 

Multiple runners placed in the top five and achieved personal records on the 2.95-mile course. Co-captain Veyd placed fourth in the boys varsity race with a time of 16:23, closely trailed by Robinson Xiang (10), who placed fifth with a time of 16:40. The boys varsity team placed fourth, qualifying them for the Central Coast Section Championship meet on Nov. 11. Girls varsity runners Emily Bryan (10) and Samaara Patil (9) also qualified in their individual races after running their times of 21:52 and 22:07 respectively. Along with Veyd, Robinson, Emily and Samaara, 25 of the 36 other Harker competitors also ran personal bests. 

“Crystal is a very distinctive course,” boys JV team member Jonny Xue (11) said. “I’d say it’s very challenging. But we run it very frequently — twice a year — so at a certain point, we get used to it and come to like it.”

Boys varsity team member Harriss Miller (11) ascends the main hill on the course. Harriss ran the 2.95-mile course in 18:44, placing 24th out of 53 runners. (Jessica Hu)

Upper school cross-country head coach Kevin Oliver commended the team’s effort in what was the last meet of the season for most of them. Despite missing some members due to injuries and illness, the team persisted.

“I am really happy with how people competed,” Oliver said. “It was the culmination of a successful training block, and we had a lot of people run personal bests at the most important race of the year and close out the season really strong. I couldn’t ask more in terms of the mental approach and the way they went out and raced.”

After the races, runners across all eight competing schools congratulated the top placers and seniors. The Harker team then participated in a gift-giving honoring the seniors that was organized by girls varsity team member Sophia Liu (11). 

“I’m going to miss the seniors a lot,” Sophia said. “Some of them I became very close friends with, both through cross-country and outside of cross-country. I’m going to be a senior soon, and it’ll be weird not seeing them on the team.”

Oliver and the team expressed gratitude for the time spent with them. The seniors missed the cross-country season in their freshman year because of the coronavirus pandemic but worked hard for the past three years, setting a precedent for the underclassmen. 

“I feel very lucky to have worked with this group of seniors,” Oliver said. “I’m a second-year coach, so I didn’t get to know them for their whole career here, but they certainly had four years’ worth of impact on me in those two seasons. Everybody had a great attitude and provided a great example of what a Harker student-athlete should be like.”

Upper school cross-country head coach Kevin Oliver holds out a rose for co-captain Veyd Patil (12) while co-captain Adam Sayed (12) lines up for a seniors group photo. “I had high expectations for them going in, and they met or exceeded those expectations every step of the way,” Oliver said. (Jessica Hu)

Co-captain of the girls varsity team Emma called her last race “bittersweet.” Reflecting on the impact cross-country has had on her, she was pleased with her improvement this season and cherishes the lively practices and close bonds she fostered with fellow teammates over the years.

“The cross-country team has been a really important community in my high school experience,” Emma said. “I love the people, and I love the energy and general vibes everyone brings. It’s a great opportunity to push yourself past your perceived limits and be really proud of yourself when you do.”

Robinson expressed his excitement about competing at CCS this year with the boys varsity team seniors. He cited their mentorship as an influential factor in shaping his high school cross-country career. 

“They were such a big part of my first two years of cross-country,” Robinson said. “They were good mentors. They did things right, and I learned so much from them. We’ll stay in touch because once someone has made such a big impact on you and your life, you can’t forget about them.”

Boys varsity co-captain Veyd Patil (12) and team member Robinson Xiang (10) smile for a group photo with the other runners who placed in the top ten. Veyd ran a time of 16:23, finishing fourth, and Robinson ran a time of 16:40, finishing fifth. (Jessica Hu)

The boys varsity team, Emily and Samaara competed at CCS last Saturday, which was also hosted at the Crystal Springs course. Robinson ran a time of 16:40, finishing in 10th place and qualifying for the State Cross Country Championships in Fresno on Nov. 25. Ninth-graders Axel Szolusha, Aiden Coviello and Samaara ran personal records of 17:45, 19:00 and 21:52, respectively. 

“This year serves as a really good building block and hopefully as a springboard going forward,” Oliver said. “Every year, we’ll be able to use where we were the previous year as a starting point and challenge and push ourselves even further.”

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About the Contributor
Jessica Hu
Jessica Hu, Reporter
Jessica Hu (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Jessica aims to build confidence in both her writing and in her social skills. She hopes she'll be able to converse intelligently with those scary, scary journalism upperclassmen. In her free time, you'll find her perusing Wikipedia articles about linguistics, solving math problems and arguing about manga with her friends.

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