The Student Newspaper of Cathedral Catholic High School

Dons Press

The Student Newspaper of Cathedral Catholic High School

Dons Press

The Student Newspaper of Cathedral Catholic High School

Dons Press

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A Race to Remember: Cathedral Catholic Girls Cross Country Team Makes History at the State Meet

Hannah Sperling
Ready to make history.

On November 25, 2023, the Cathedral Catholic girls’ cross country team etched their names in Don’s history. In a remarkable display of determination and skill at the CIF State meet in Fresno, California, the talented girls captured the title of State Cha

Coach Itchon (known as “Menace ‘I’” by the team) holding the State trophy while beaming with pride. (Hannah Sperling)

mpions. This achievement is marked as a significant milestone in Cathedral history as it is the first time the girls have ever claimed the title as Division 3 State Champions. After securing 3rd place in 2021 and a hard-fought 2nd place in 2022, the girls decided this was their year to finally show people that they deserve that 1st place trophy.

Before the season even started, the team began to train harder than ever in hopes of securing the state champion title. One main reason for the success at the state meet this year was because “In prior years, our training has been more geared toward CIF and earlier meets, but this year our primary goal was to win State so we decided to gear our training toward that meet instead,” said Xani Pena ‘24. The team ran almost 40 miles per week for the majority of the season until they began to taper and only ran about 28-32 miles during the 2 weeks leading up to state.

They also had a unique race plan for this meet which helped them to defeat the reigning state champs, Campolindo. Their Coach, Dan Geiger, told them to take it easy on the first mile because the race really begins at the beginning of the second mile. This allowed the Cathedral girls to pass other runners who went out too hard during the first mile and pass the girls who couldn’t keep up during the last two miles.

Before each and every race, the girls bow their heads in prayer and ask God for guidance and strength during their race. Captain Scarlett Martin ‘24 reflected on the importance of team prayer when she explained: “God unites us as a team and helps us to relax before the race and remember that God is with us and we are blessed with the opportunity to run for Him as well as our teammates.”

The team has an incredible connection, which was a highly contributing factor that led to their amazing win this season. The girls on the team bond by driving together to meets, having team sleepovers, getting breakfast after morning runs, and going on a week-long trip to Big Bear. Since the girls are all so closely bonded, they race for each other and the team’s overall success, rather than their own individual success.

Kristine Bicker ‘27 told us, “During the race I was really struggling to keep up with the pack I was running with, but when I saw my teammate, Liesel Sellerberg, I remembered our overall goal of running for each other and it inspired me to push past the pain and make my friends proud.”

The Girls Cross Country team achieved unmatched success during the 2023 season. Exhibiting an exemplary 20-0 record, the entire squad demonstrated outstanding performance

throughout the season and improved even more with each race. However, this could not have been accomplished without the amazing coaches Dan Geiger, Jacob Itchon, and Ameena Benselloum. These amazing people supported the team for months while strategically planning out the training so the athletes would reach their peak at State.

Top 7 girls with the well deserved state trophy (Hannah Sperling)

Furthermore, the top five girls earned the prestigious title of All Western League Athletes, with the top three securing the additional distinction of All CIF Athletes, and the top two were highlighted as All State Athletes. These amazing individuals and their accomplishments will forever stand as a testament for determination, skill, and teamwork as they closed the season by making an incredible mark on Cathedral Catholic legacy.

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About the Contributor
My name is Liesel and I’m a sophomore at CCHS. I am a Staffer at Dons Press and I enjoy writing about sports on campus.

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