“The wall” holds a prominent place in coach Scott Sanders’ history classroom, room 102.
“Last year, we were running in the UCSD eucalyptus grove. I found this painting on the ground,” says Andrew Kuhn, a junior on La Jolla Country Day School’s cross-country team. “Then we started bringing back things we found on runs.”
A handful of the 19 other boys have filed into the coach’s classroom after last period. There are eight girls on Sanders’ team, as well. The wall has swelled to include several hubcaps — “Hey, that’s from my car,” jokes a visitor — and the painting has since acquired a frame.
Of particular interest is a participant’s ribbon marked “Free Spirit Condors Invitational.”
“We don’t know what a ‘Condors Invitational’ is,” chimes in another team member. “We could Google it, but if we don’t know, it kind of keeps the mystique.”
Paul Criado, a sophomore who enjoys history — “In APUSH (Advanced Placement U.S. History), we just covered the ‘Era of Good Feeling’ after the War of 1812, the Monroe Administration” —is another welcoming voice.
“Hopefully, what you see is relationships,” says Sanders, who returns after changing out of his teacher garb to run with his team and assistant coach John Hill. “Over my 19 years as head coach and two as assistant, we have good teams and not-as-good teams. You hope they also learn training methods, and so forth.”
The Torrey runners, about 25 on this day, will head across the street to the park at the Jewish Community Center for warm-ups, then out toward the eucalyptus grove two miles away —formally called the “UCSD Par Course” — in different groups at varying speeds.
Walter Chen, a junior who has attended Country Day since preschool, explains with Kuhn, “There are different paces. There’s a ‘conversation pace,’ where you run at a speed that you can converse. There are other paces, including ‘race pace.’
“If we have a demanding workout one day, the next day we won’t run as intense a pace,” clarifies Chen. Reasons for different groups at varying speeds include “how fit they are, or if they’re coming off an injury,” offers Kuhn, who favors math in school.
The big discussion today, outside of the items on the wall, has to do with what’s listed as part of the daily workout posted on Sanders’ classroom door: the hill at UCSD. From some, it gets a groan when they spot it.
Last year, Ilaria Comfort (now a senior) finished seventh and Jenna Hernandez (now a junior) finished 14th in the CIF sectional meet to qualify for the state meet. On the boys side, “We are much improved over last year,” says coach Sanders, “but unfortunately so are many of the teams in our league (including Francis Parker and Santa Fe Christian) and division.”
“Sophomores Paul Criado, Jake Needle, and Aidan Ideker are showing a lot of improvement. Juniors Daven Gujral and Andrew Kuhn are coming into good racing form. Junior R.J. Parry is new but improving quickly. Freshman John Guckian is poised for some fast races.”