By Anthony Cardellini ’17
Although it has been over 10 years since Brophy cross country has won the state meet, assistant coach Mr. Oscar Borboa ’05 said he believes a championship is within reach this year.
“Our stated team goal is to work toward the state championship, but we know that we’re not the favorites,” he said. “We certainly should be top five at the state meet, at least.”
He said that this is possible because “all of our seven varsity runners from last year are returning this year, including the top three, all of whom finished at the top 10 of the state meet last year.”
Mr. Borboa is joined on the coaching staff with head coach Mr. Mike Keahon ’73, Ms. Chabli Balcom, Ms. Karen Parise, Mr. Steve Smith ’96 and Mr. Scott Middlemist ’87.
The team finished second in the state last year, and Mr. Borboa said that this result was highly encouraging.
“Last year was the first time in school history that Brophy cross country was runner-up champion at the state meet,” he said. “To say that we were happy with the result is a big understatement.”
Mr. Borboa said that the team is rallying behind Luke Mason ’17 and Hociel Landa ’17.
“The unquestioned senior leaders of our team are Luke Mason and Hociel Landa,” he said. “They’re leaders not necessarily so much by what they say but what they do. Luke and Hociel are some of the hardest workers we’ve ever been around.”
He said that the team is an underdog this season, competing with Desert Vista, Mountain View and Corona del Sol. The season culminates in the state meet on Nov. 5.
“Students would be surprised at how fun the cross country state meet is, because it’s one of the few sports where at the state tournament you literally see schools from every corner of Arizona at one time,” Mr. Borboa said.
He said that the team needs to work hard and stay healthy to have the best shot at winning a state title.
“I think our team at this point has bought into the idea of working hard day in and day out … it all comes down to being healthy,” he said.
Third year cross country runner and aforementioned senior leader Landa agreed that health is key to performing well.
He said that the team has to take many precautions to avoid getting sick or injured. These involve everything from ice baths to not running too hard in practice.
Landa said that the team needs middle runners such as Jered Davidson ’17, Grant Smith ’18 and Anekin Hetman ’19 to improve to have the best shot at winning the state title.
“As a team we want to improve our middle runners, because our top three are all really good,” he said, referring to himself, Mason, and Drew Burns ’18 as the top runners. “We need to close the gap between the top three and the rest of the varsity team.”
He said that he hopes the student body gets more involved in supporting cross country this year.
“Cross country is a sport that’s really under hyped,” he said. “This is a good year to actually follow along with cross country because it’s another sport that Brophy might excel at.”
Landa said that there is extra motivation for the team to win this year, because it is coach Mr. Mike Keahon’s last year leading the Brophy cross country program after 25 years of coaching.
Landa said that the team is running just under 60 miles a week to train for the state meet.