On Thursday, Nov. 4, Dana Hills High School’s (DHHS) boys and girls cross country teams raced in South Coast League Finals at Irvine Regional Park, ending in the girls taking home the team title and the guys finishing in second to San Clemente. DHHS had a sweeping day in the individual titles, with junior Allura Markow coming in first with a 17:25.3 and senior Jai Dawson coming in first with a 14:34.4.
For the girls team, this is the first time they have won a league championship since 2015, and all 5 scoring girls for the Dolphins finished in the top 10 which is a huge accomplishment in such a tight cross country race. Those 5 scorers all earned All League distinction. When Markow was asked about how she thought the race went, she states that she “think[s] [they] all did pretty good” and that sophomores Cooper Murphy and Tessa Anderson really stepped up. “Everyone played their part though and that’s what led to our league title.” Markow led the race from the gun, just as she has been leading the varsity team since her freshman year.
Dawson explains that for the guys, “overall the team did good” and they “maybe could have tightened the pack a little more and secured the team win” but overall that 2nd place in the league is a great result. Like Markow, Dawson also led the race from the beginning because he knew he “had the endurance and training to do so.” Winning an individual league title is a huge accomplishment, and with it being his senior year, he states that “It definitely feels good to win the SCL title senior year” since COVID took that opportunity from him last year during his junior season. Overall, Dawson can describe his senior season as “enjoyable but very much par in terms of individual results.”
Both the girls and guy’s teams qualified to the CIF Southern Section Prelims that took place on Friday, Nov. 12 at the hilly Mt. SAC course in Walnut, California. On a blazing, 90 degree day, Markow describes the experience as “super hot and everyone being super stressed”, and due to the heat the races in the afternoon were changed to 2 miles instead of 3. It was a “really challenging race, especially grinding through the heat and it was not easy for anyone.” The girls ended up winning their heat and the boys got second in their heat, with both teams qualifying for CIF Southern Section Finals.
Markow is “looking forward to making those big accomplishments” with her team at CIF Finals and hopefully state championships, if they qualify. She wants to stop just having “goals and make them happen. Hard work pays off and everyone deserves to be there since last year [their] opportunities got stolen.” Markow believes that if the girls team all “push [they] can make it to state.”
For the guys team, Dawson is “looking forward to the challenges that CIF Finals and state championships will bring” and for the privilege of getting to be alongside a great group of guys.
After state, in a pre COVID year, the next step would be to qualify to Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) in Portland, Oregon which the guys team last did in the 2019 fall season. However, this event has been cancelled both last year and this year due to COVID, and instead, Nike Cross Regionals with a smaller attendance are now occurring all over the nation in 9 different regions. These regions can be defined as the Northwest, Heartland, Midwest, Southwest, South, Southeast, Northeast, New York, and finally, California.
Since the unconventional season happened with primarily dual meets last season, there were certainly some setbacks and advantages within the sport of cross country and DHHS in specific. Markow remarks that this year, the “team is closer compared to last season with COVID” and that has been really helpful at practice and at races. Dawson adds that “training has definitely improved, just in terms of being able to train as a team rather than individually” and that the mentality of the team has improved as well due to the “training [they] have to do together” and getting back to normal competition settings.
For the girls team, this is the first time they have won a league championship since 2015, and all 5 scoring girls for the Dolphins finished in the top 10 which is a huge accomplishment in such a tight cross country race.
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