State cross country meet: Boys highest finish all time in 2nd, girls 10th
11.26.2022 – The Menlo cross country teams brought home top-10 finishes, including the boys in second place its highest finish in program history - at the CIF state championship at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday
The Knights boys, who placed seventh at last year’s meet were second just four points behind WBAL opponent Crystal Springs who had 77 points and third place Yosemite scored 120.
Senior Justin Pretre led the charge for the Knights with a time of 15:24.6. Sophomore Landon Pretre was fourth in 15:34.8 and sophomore Will Hauser 18th in 16:10.9. Senior Aiden Deffner was 36th in 16:42.1 and sophomore Jared Saal, who moved up six places in the last mile, finished in 16:45.4. Alex Boesch, a junior, crossed the finish line in 17:32.4 and freshman James Yue clocked in at 17:54.0.
“We came into the season with big goals. We put in countless hours of work, on and off the track and trails, pushing towards those goals. Obviously we went into league and state and ccs looking to win,” Justin Pretre said. “And though those hopes might not have been fully realized, I am so proud of how far we’ve come and the work we’ve put in as a team. This is the best boys cross country team Menlo has ever seen.”
“I’m very happy for the boys’ first state podium in school history,” Menlo coach Jorge Chen said. “It was bittersweet since they came so close to a title but we have to give Crystal credit where due. It was great to see the WBAL doing so well. “
The girls came in 10th with a team made up entirely of underclassmen. Freshman Ariya Kaushek was the Knights’ top finisher in 21st with a time of 19:17.6 Fellow freshman Devon Tussing-Adkinson was 46th in 19:56.8 while sophomore Eden Chuang was Menlo’s third finisher in 20:34.3. Sophomore Audrey Tsao moved up 17 places after Mile 2 to cross the finish in 21:47.2. Freshmen Anya Ramani (22:32.9), Anya Kothari (23:14.1) and Lavanya Badjate (23:16.0) rounded out the team.
“What a fantastic showing for the girls. We have an incredibly young team, led by Ariya Kaushek with a stellar finish,” Menlo assistant coach Sally Hauser said. “The girls stepped up to the challenge, finishing 10th overall. I could not be more proud of this group and look forward to seeing what they achieve in the years to come.”
For all of the girls this was their first state meet; and they fought illness and low numbers - just seven traveled to Fresno. The Menlo girls last went to the CIF Championships as a team in 2019 when they took second.
“Our team definitely used all of our training and effort to do our best in this meet,” Kaushek said “Even through all of our challenges with sickness and securing our varsity team we were able to come together and commit to success.
Kaushek, relatively new to the sport, made a splash in her debut in top 25 among nearly 200 runners and lifted the Knights to a lofty finish.
I was definitely intimidated after arriving at my first state meet in Fresno. Especially after being injured for the last month or two this was my first meet where I was truly back to racing and not just running. It was the most relieving feeling crossing the finish line and improving my team’s performance. Overall, I am so glad I transitioned to running this year especially because I just started and have already fallen in love with the community and sport!
Justin Pretre reflected on being a freshman going to state.
“I remember toeing the line beside my mentors, the big old seniors, as a barely-scraping 5-foot-tall freshman, and, somehow, somewhere along the way I became that big old senior,” he said. On Saturday, I toed the line beside little freshmen and sophomores knowing that one day they too will remember this moment with my same sense of nostalgic pride, and hopefully they, like me, will recognize how much they’ve grown. Saturday was my final farewell to menlo cross country and, yes, it stings, but I know that I say goodbye a much fuller man than the one who said hello.”
But for these runners - especially seniors Justin Pretre and Aiden Deffner - they can look forward to spring.
“Simply, we are fast. Fast, and hungry to come back even faster this spring during track.”