Woodward Park alive with the sound of cross country runners

Castilleja placed second in the CCS Division V race to qualify for the state meet. Photo by Mark Foster.

Robert Miranda has a shot at winning a state Division IV cross country championship Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno.

That’s the way his coach sees it.

Sam Craig/Malcolm Slaney

Henry Saul/Mark Foster
"Rob should be in the top three along with Collin Ullrich of Liberty Ranch and Anthony Grover of JSerra,'' Menlo coach Jorge Chen said. "It's going to be a showdown. It should be very interesting. All three ran without competition at their section finals. It could be literally neck to neck. Rob is very motivated. He will leave everything on that course.''

Miranda, who has committed to run in college at Yale, has had a terrific senior season, winning every race he's been entered in except for Mt. Sac, where he placed fourth. The Central Coast Section 3,200-meter champion in track last spring, Miranda wants to conclude his high school cross country career on a positive note.

"I've just got to be ready to run my best race,'' Miranda said. "This is why you run, what you've been working for all season.''

He said he doesn't go into a race with any particular strategy.

"I just try to go in with an open mind and respond,'' Miranda said. "Let your body take over, be loose, be ready.''

He's taking a similar approach toward declaring a major in college.

"I have no idea,'' he said. "You could put down math or computer science, but if you ask me again in four years it might be something completely different.''

Miranda will be joined by Knights' teammate Kamran Murray, a freshman who has been improving at a rapid rate all season.

Palo Alto's Henry Saul and Sam Craig hope to complete a solid season in boys Division I and Gunn's Justin Chiao in boys Division II looks to finish strong.

On the girls' side, Gunn's Joyce Shea, who finished second at the CCS Division II race, and Woodside resident Anna Mokkapati, who finished second at the CCS Division IV championships, lead a strong contingent that also includes Sacred Heart Prep's Luci Lambert in Division IV and Elysse Folkman of Kehillah Jewish in Division V.

Three local teams are also headed to the state meet: the Menlo School girls, led by Charlotte Tomkinson and Kyra Pretre, in Division IV, Castilleja, with CCS champion Tevah Gevelber, in girls Division V and Eastside College Prep in boys Division V.

Woodside resident Isabelle Cairns will run with St. Francis in girls Division IV and Bellarmine senior Meika Beaudoin-Rousseau, who will be at Stanford next year, will be competitive in Division I.

Eastside College Prep is comprised of Carlos Anye Nunez, Alexis Nunez, Max Velazquez, Jose Munoz, Cristopher Mansilla, Joshua Mendez and Erick Hernandez.

Other Menlo runners are Marisa Castagna, Gabby Kogler, Katie Aufricht, Amanda Foster and Cameron Boom.

Other Castilleja runners are Lauren Traum, Angie Wang, Riona Yoshida, Lia Spencer, Ananya Ramkumar and Caroline Hallee.

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