El Camino varsity cross country began their season with a strong showing at the Woodbridge Invitational on Sept. 16. The boys’ 3-mile sweepstakes was won by senior Justin Hazell whose time was 13:59.5, and was the fastest race of the day and set the new national record for 3-mile.
The varsity boys A race was won by 50 points. Senior Ethan Samuels and junior Giancarlo Puccia both came in under 15:30. Alejandro Fernandez ran a 16:02 and came in 43rd. Freshman Aiden Emery ran a 16:44, which earned him 10th place in his freshman race.
Junior Jicel Fernandez, who was best on team last season, ran a 17:21 and came in eighth. Freshman Caroline Bates won her freshman race with a time of 18:44.
“The meet went really well,” Fernandez said, “we had a lot of guys and girls run their personal best and new people ran really well.”
Fernandez seemed optimistic and said, “[It] is looking to be a really good one, there are a lot of strong teams this year and we are looking very strong ourselves.”
“The meet went well, there were some incredibly fast races, everything played out,” Hazell said.
The boy’s varsity team’s goal this year is to win state and the girl’s team is training to win city.
“I didn’t do as well as I wanted to,” Fernandez said, “I was disappointed and angry that I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped but it was only our first race of the season.”
Fernandez took it as a learning experience and now knows “what [he needs] to do and how hard to train in order to get what [he wants].”
Hazell thinks anything can change “but it’s looking positive,” Hazell said, “in terms of our team it’s looking better than ever.” Hazell, having just broken the national record for the 3-mile race, said it “was an unreal experience, I was in disbelief.”
Hazell earned this award by “showing up to every practice, eating right, sleeping, and hydrating this time of year,” Hazell said, “and by being supported by my family, friends, coach, and teammates.
Hazell is interested in furthering his running career, “Definitely, without a doubt I would love to run in college and definitely as a career,” Hazell said.
The team looks to make an impact at their next meet, the Clovis Invitational, on Oct. 7.