Go Waves

2018 SWS Cross Country: A Season of Smoke and Fire by Michael Levangie, Head Cross Country Coach

Unlike most of our Waldorf sports teams, who compete in Division 7 with other high schools that have less than 200 in enrollment, our Cross Country team competes in Division 5 with schools that have as many as 600 in enrollment. Frankly, SWS Cross Country regularly competes against schools with enrollments in excess of 2,000 students.

During the 2018 season, our Waves Cross Country team ended its season in what has become a traditional place – Fresno – on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, at the California State Championships. Over the last seven years, our Cross Country team has qualified at least one runner for the State Championship every year. This year, senior Rai Bhachech continued the tradition, finishing an outstanding 85th in a stellar field of distance runners.

This year was tough for our runners, as they struggled to complete the roster and faced air quality issues constantly, complicating training. The team began, as they do every year, training in the summer, with group runs that culminate in an opportunity to attend a week-long training camp in Mammoth Lakes – a highlight for many student-athletes. This summer, senior Ryan Roehl become only the second SWS runner ever to amass 500 miles over the summer, earning the coveted 500 Mile Club T-shirt.

Unfortunately, the team’s altitude training camp was cancelled at the last moment due to air quality issues from wildfires.

Our Cross Country team began the season with a number of Invitational events throughout the Central Valley. On the men’s side, Rai Bhachech set a new school record, win the CVCL individual championship, qualifying for the CIF State Championship where he became the #5 fastest runner ever on the team list.

Chris Olsen and Nicki Abate set personal records again and again, and Ethan Roehl and Issac Hinman continually worked to improve the team’s pack of runners 3-6.

On the women’s side, Sydne Long cemented her place as #4 all time of the school record list, qualifying for the Section Championship. Noa Palumbo set repeated personal records ending with #7 all time and qualified for the Section Championship in her first partial season. Lyndsey King set multiple personal records.

The XC team arrived at the CVCL Championship with slim numbers but strong hearts. The men came into the league championship meet ranked 4th. Ethan (10), Chris (12), Issac (11), and Nicki (12) were the heart of the team’s main pack, finishing 2nd as a team qualifying for the Sac-Joaquin Sub-Section Meet. The women’s team was short on numbers at league championships but senior Sydne Long and junior Noa Palumbo qualified for Sub-Sections. Rai, Synde, and Noa qualified for the CIF Section Championships.

The CIF Section Championships are a perennial team goal for our athletes. This year, Mother Nature intervened to increase the difficulty factor. Our athletes train all season for a chance to run at the Section Championships and an opportunity to compete for a place in the State Championship.

This year, the Section office called off the meet the night before it was scheduled due to air quality concerns, this time due to smoke from the Camp Fire. The meet was rescheduled for the following weekend, but with the air quality worsening during the week, there was the possibility the meet would be cancelled and debate surfaced as to whether any runners from the Section would be allowed to compete at the State Championship if the race was cancelled.

Despite the delay, stress from the uncertainty, and a week of mostly indoor training, our XC runners prepared to compete. The Section Championship was finally held, and our athletes challenged for lead spots. 2019 will bring even more opportunity with our Cross Country Team. We are always looking for motivated people, no experience necessary.
(find more seasonal photos here)