Resident Feature

Pandemic Training Unleashes the Best Bronco Season in 17 Years

Girls Team at Hayward high School, Left to right, Sophia Carcamo, Lily Wright, Coach Ruth Seabrook, Macey Harlow, Gabi Manning, Megan Malloy and Ella Kopper (not pictured Carmen Urmson)

Northgate High School Cross Country team just ended their strongest season in 17 years sending both their Girls’ and Boys’ teams to the State Meet in Fresno to compete against the best distance runners in California. The success of the season took them a little by surprise as Head Coach Ruth Seabrook commented, “We focused on process over results. We were engaged in following our runners and debriefing with them, versus tending to the electronic live results update. It was only at the Awards’ Ceremony that we realized the girls had qualified.” 

According to Head Coach and Northgate Math teacher, Peter Ceresa, “Success was born out of hard work during the pandemic. As soon as the pandemic shut down school and sports had to end their seasons we set up our runners with online training, and checked in with them daily by facetime, messages or zoom. Then once Contra Costa allowed cohorts, we were the first team at the High School to set up training on a daily basis in Arbolado Park, and it gave all the students an outlet and focus during a difficult time. We were also able to employ some graduates as coaches who had also been sent home and they did an amazing job of giving back to the program.” 

Northgate runners gather after placing 14th and 15th at the State Meet in Fresno (Not pictured Nick Knisley, Andrew LaVay and Hunter Pinkstaff)

First time Assistant Coach Cody Davis injected the right level of enthusiasm and fun for the team and noted, “It definitely helped me grow as a first time coach and to bond with the runners to be joining them in workouts.” 

Overall team numbers were down from around 80 in a regular year, to around 50, partly due to students being apprehensive about returning to the classroom and overloading with a sport. According to Coach Ruth, the runners they had were very invested after so much time together during the pandemic and formed a close bond with each other. Led by Captain Megan Malloy, the girls placed second at the famous Mt SAC race in Southern California fielding just five runners, rather than the typical seven needed on a team and continued to perform above expectations at every late season meet on just the minimum of athletes. If one runner fell the others just picked up the slack and ran harder so they could succeed as a team. 

State qualifiers boys team: Left to right, Assistant Coach Cody Davis, Injay Hwang, Gabe Pierce, Evan Leach, Vinnie Macaluso, Aidan Sunbury, Andrew LaVay, Nick Knisley, Max Kopper, Hunter Pinkstaff, Robert Benard, Coach Peter Ceresa

The boys also developed well during the season and won at Mt SAC – racing in the D1 section, despite being D3, which was the first time in Bronco history! A tactic that helped the boys team, was “sometimes you have to slow down to go fast.” In fact, one key to success was slowing down the fastest runner, Captain Aidan Sunbury, at the start of races, so he could bring with him two sophomores, Nick Knisley and Robert Benard, and help the entire boys’ team keep a close pack time. 

Although June sees the Broncos graduating a lot of seniors from the boys’ team, the girls won’t graduate any runners, and both teams are aiming to make a statement next year too! Congrats, Broncos!   


By Cara Douglas, Sports Reporter