The Healdsburg High School cross country team will have a fresh look this season, thanks in large part to a new crop of athletes eager to prove themselves at the next level.
The Greyhounds graduated some of the best runners in school history in June, most notably state champion Gabrielle Peterson and four-year star Dante Godinez.
The team has not skipped a beat, as gifted junior Jack Vanden Heuvel steps to the forefront to lead a promising group of young talent.
Already one of the best runners in the Redwood Empire, Vanden Heuvel has not wasted any time in establishing himself this fall, blistering the Spring Lake course on Sept. 4 to win the Bob Shor Invitational meet.
“Vanden Heuvel cruised to a win, revealing the benefits of gritty summer training,” HHS coach Kate Guthrie reported. “Jack is stronger than ever, establishing himself among the top distance runners in our division at the state level.”
Vanden Heuvel followed up the Spring Lake performance with a great effort at the Lowell Invitational on Saturday in Golden Gate Park, finishing 15th overall in a time of 14:50, followed by teammate Luca Pastene.
“Luca also ran an incredible race, with nearly a three-minute personal best improvement from last year,” Guthrie noted. “This leadership will pay dividends for our talented youngsters new to the team.”
The boys squad will have an infusion of talent, a group that includes freshmen Alex Cyphers, Owen Efram, Mathew Nielson, Erick Gutierrez and Harrison Threlfall.
“They’re eager to see how they will stack up to other local freshmen at the Viking Invitational at Spring Lake this weekend,” Guthrie noted.
Although the Hounds have a budding boys team, they’re in dire need of more girls.
“We’re looking to add a few more girls to our roster so we can field a full scoring team,” Guthrie said.
Returning to lead the girls squad are Stephanie Hensly and Nadya Rued. They’ll be joined by newcomers Zoe Turk and Addie Waterman.
“These hardworking girls are improving by the week and are motivated to see what they can accomplish,” Guthrie said. “We’re so excited about this cross country season.”