Claremont High School Cross Country turns up the heat

CHS girls cross country co-captain Peyton Cruz smiles during warm up exercises during a recent workout with her teammates. The Pack had a good showing at the very competitive Woodbridge Invitational last weekend and are looking forward to the first Palomares League meet this weekend. COURIER/Photo Steven Felschundneff

by Steven Felschundneff |

On Tuesday, Claremont High School cross country coach Bill Reeves’ frustration was growing. He had a room full of antsy teenagers but school health officials were concerned that it was over 100 degrees and might be too hot to exercise outside.

Coach Reeves explained the team had two different routes that were largely in the shade with many locations for water, but the situation remained in limbo. Finally, at about 3:45 p.m. he got a text, “It’s 99, have at it.”

The combined boys and girls teams ran south on Mountain to Larkin Park for a water break and that’s where Coach Reeves chose to monitor the workout’s progress. Shouting encouragement from the shade of a light pole, he also made sure each runner knew the water fountain’s location.
CHS has a long tradition of producing quality cross country teams and this year is no exception, with Prep Cal Track ranking the boys fourth and the girls fifth in CIF Southern Section Division 2.

The team traveled to Denton, Texas on September 11 for the Garmin MileSplit TX XC Invitational where the boys finished third and the girls fifth. Maddie Coles took second place while her twin brother Chris was fifth.

“Our team right now isn’t as deep as it historically has been, but I really love the mindset of my teammates. They are all working hard and there is this really good pack mentality going on right now, where one person will step up, and now three more will step up and chase after him. So I do think we have potential later in the season to live up to what previous [Claremont] teams have accomplished,” boys captain Chris Coles said.

Chris said it was his first time in Texas and that the course at Denton, which is just north of Dallas, was mostly flat and a grass surface so the team could wear spikes.

“We are rebounding from a weaker 2020 season,” he said. “I feel like I have been waiting for this season for a year, because I was, and now we are just plowing through it.”

Chris Coles and many of his teammates are looking forward to the postseason, including running at the notoriously hilly CIF course at Mt. San Antonio College, as well as traveling to Clovis for the CIF California State Meet on November 27.

On Saturday the Pack ran the sweepstakes race at the Woodbridge Invitational at Silver Lakes Park in Norco. Claremont boys and girls teams earned a 15th place finish. Maddie Coles took 17th individually with a time of 16:30. That was the second-fastest time in school history, just behind one of her previous tries at the course.

“It’s the most competitive race outside of NXN,” Coach Reeves said, referring to the Nike Cross Nationals, which brings together top state champions from across the country.

“There were six nationally ranked teams there, all the top ranked teams in Southern California, all in one division. It was a good showing [for Claremont] considering there were lots of teams from out of state.”


Members of the Claremont High School boys cross country team run south on Mountain Avenue during a recent workout. Claremont has a tradition of producing great cross country teams and this year is no exception with the boys ranked fourth and the girls fifth in CIF Division 2. COURIER/Photo Steven Felschundneff


Co-captain of the girls team senior Peyton Cruz said she got a PR—personal record—at Woodbridge, which was gratifying because COVID interrupted her running schedule and it was a serious boost to clock times better than in the days before the pandemic.
Her co-captain senior Hannah Endo said she looks forward to improving her times and running more races with the team.

“I think we have a lot of opportunities and we have more races to come that should be a lot of fun. Our past three meets have been a lot of fun and it’s nice to be able to run again in a competitive arena,” she said.

“We have gotten a lot closer this year than we have in previous years. There used to be a big division between the varsity runners and the freshman runners And I think we have completely eliminated that, everyone is friends with each other,” Cruz said.

This Saturday the Wolfpack will host the first of two Palomares League meets, which Claremont is expected to win. The first was scheduled to be at Legg Lake at Whittier Narrows Park but the venue required 90 days notice due to COVID concerns which was not possible. Next weekend the team travels down Interstate 15 for the Asics Temecula Twilight followed by a preview of the CIF state course at the Clovis Invitational on October 9.



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