Cross country dominates at first invite of season


Ella Shen

The varsity girls line up at the start of the three mile cross country course

The DV cross country team dominated at Farmer Invitational on Sept. 11, garnering a podium spot in nearly every race on the 3 mile course.  

Farmer Invitational, which featured 33 schools, marked the return of the classic dirt trail race after the pandemic year’s stunted season.

Women’s varsity powered to a dominant first place finish against 16 other scoring teams, led by senior Rhea Braganza (second overall, with a time of 18 minutes, 16 seconds) and freshman Sabrina Noriega (third overall, 18:17). Seniors Eva Shen, Kirsten Chan, and junior Liana Lee rounded out the top five scores. 

(Top five runners in each race score points; the place of finish corresponds with the number of points; the team with the lowest number of points wins.)

“I decided to try a new strategy [this race], to go out slower and pass people one by one,” Braganza said. “Usually when I start fast and people pass me, it can [feel] very demoralizing.” 

The varsity girls were able to push each other to their team win.

“Rhea, my teammate, really pushed me to keep on going throughout the race, and kept me motivated,” Noriega said. 

Men’s varsity surged through the finish line, led by junior Andrew Richards (eighth overall, 16:00), with Raghav Bhatnagar (16:05), Daniel Municio (16:10), Shane Badcock (16:11), and Diego Garcia (16:12) rounding out the top five scorers in a 12-second spread.

“My mentality during the race was more like, ‘don’t do it for yourself, do it for the team,’” Richards said. “When you do well with the team, your times will follow. You put the team first, and your times will be good. It doesn’t work vice versa.”

They placed second, earning another plaque for DV. 

The meet opened with the freshman and sophomore women’s race. Sophomore Natalie Chan led the team to a second place victory, followed by Niharika Bangalore, Sanjana Sudina, Sita Murthy, and Khushi Mehrotra. Chan thundered past the finish line in second place, with a time of 21:19.

“I started kicking really hard at the end of the race because I heard someone say there was someone behind me,” Chan said, “And then I turned around, and there was no one behind me.”

Robi TozulAhmad led the men’s freshman and sophomore team to second place as well, with a solid time of 16:44. 

The top two teams in each race received a plaque; DV amassed five plaques out of the six races in which plaques could be won.

The new freshmen bring a promising future for DV’s cross country team, especially as the seniors close out their last cross country season.

“One of the most special moments in my high school career is seeing my teammates finish fast and race their best along with me,” Braganza said.