Cross country record-finish 7th at state
11.27,2021 – With a Menlo School record-setting team finish, the Menlo boys’ cross country team took seventh at the CIF State Championship Div.. IV Meet on Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno.
Knights senior Grace Tang crossed the finish line in a personal-best 20:52.6 in the Div. IV girls’ race.
”It was a perfect ending to an impressive season of steady improvement through hard work and commitment to each other,” Menlo coach Jorge Chen said. ”Every kid PRed or ran considerably faster than a month ago on this course. Literally, everyone over-delivered and wore their Knights uniform proudly.”
The CCS finalist and WBAL champion Knights boys weren’t ranked in the top 10 heading into the race, yet finished seventh with a school record and West Bay Athletic League-record team time of 1:23.03, topping the mark of 1:04.22 set by Crystal Springs in 2019. Menlo was the fifth-fastest across all Central Coast Section divisions at state this year.
In the boys’ Div. IV race, junior Justin Pretre finished in 15:46.3 for 14th among 210 runners. Brother Landon Pretre, a freshman, took 17th in 15:54.6. Junior Aiden Deffner was the Knights’ third finisher in 16:58.3, followed by senior Nik Khuntia (17:03.7), sophomore Alex Boesch (17:19.8), freshman Will Hauser (18:05.5) and senior Nishan Rajavasireddy (19:40.4).
In her first varsity season, Tang capped her high school career with a memorable race.
”Grace is a Cinderella story of persistent commitment to this program. She never raced varsity, and this year she was our top runner. She was such an amazing role model and leader for the girls team. Going into this finale, we hoped for her to finish the season with a 5K PR. She ran every split exactly the way we planned it.”
For seniors Nik Khuntia, who started running this year, Tang and Rajavasireddy the state meet was a fitting end to the season.
“The amount of hype really took me by surprise and I’m sure many of the others, except Nishan and Justin who have raced at state before, felt the same way.,” Khuntia said. “Because of this I really just had to tell myself to focus and not get consumed by the adrenaline and go out too fast.
It’s sad for us seniors to leave however, I think this year more than ever we were able to leave a big impact on the team. Officially, we weren’t even ranked in the top 10 for this race, so it was nice to assert dominance,” Khuntia added. “We had high expectations. We all did our part and ran solid races.”