Mammoth High School XC runners on their way

The 2010 Mammoth High School Cross Country season is off and running, with two large invitationals under its belt. On Sept. 10, Mammoth traveled to the Whittel Warrior invitational in Zephyr Cove at Lake Tahoe, Calif.

More than 30 high schools came together to compete and see who was “best of the best.” Mammoth only brought seven of its members, but showed the much larger schools they should not be overlooked.

Freshman Hailey Hugelman got things started by running her first -ever race in the freshman division. She trained hard all summer and it showed. She finished second in a field of 70 runners, surprising even her coaches.

The second Mammoth star was no surprise. Toby Qualls led Mammoth’s Cross Country team last year as a freshman, and has trained intensively under the guidance of Andrew Kastor, Tomas Rodriguez and Rob Friedl.

Because his coaches felt Toby would not be challenged in the sophomore division, they entered him in the varsity race, with 105 runners. Qualls finished second, just behind the first place senior, who had to run the third fastest time ever on the course to beat the sophomore.

The second invitational was run on Sept. 17, at the North Tahoe Invitational. The event broke all previous records, with more high schools and more high school runners than ever before. This time Mammoth High Cross Country brought the entire team. Boys and girls were split up into freshman, sophomore and varsity divisions.

Once again, it was freshman Hailey Hugelman who got things started. She medaled and took 12th place in a field of 75 runners.

It was then Kristen King’s turn. King, who was one of the top runners on last year’s girls cross country team, returns this year as a senior. She ran in the varsity race, and finished 22nd out of 130 runners. King was getting over a cold, and did a great job, stated Mammoth Coaches Scott Luke and Rob Friedl.

The most competitive race was run last. Two hundred thirty five runners ran in the boys’ varsity race. Qualls once again ran in the varsity race.

He was one of only five boys to break the 20-minute barrier on this difficult course. He also medaled and took home a fourth place finish. No other finishers Qualls’ age were even close.

The big surprise in this invitational was the strong 16th place finish of the Mammoth High Schools Boys’ Varsity Team. To medal, a team had to finish in the top 20 – quite an accomplishment considering Mammoth boys’ varsity lost all members except two to graduation and is in a rebuilding mode.

It takes five strong runners to score in cross country. The Mammoth High School soccer players saved the day.

Since they were looking to improve their stamina, cross-country running is key. Soccer players Armando Alvarado, Juan Maldonado, Johnny Lopez, Jesus Leon, Fernando Ramirez, and Jose Godinez all finished in the top 100 and were strong enough to give Mammoth the win.

“For eight of our runners, it was their first race. Learning how to pace yourself is huge, and the strong finish of all our runners bodes well for the future of our team,” said Friedl. “Although we are a small school, our runners showed they could do very well, even against much larger schools.”