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August 5, 2009 > HAAL cross country almost off and running

HAAL cross country almost off and running

By Gary van den Heuvel

The Hayward Area Athletic League (HAAL) cross country season begins in earnest with the Hayward Invitational, held on Saturday, September 20 at Hayward High School.

Last year's HAAL champs, Castro Valley (boys co-champ, girls champ) and Bishop O'Dowd (boys co-champ) are poised to return to their normal spots at or near the top of the HAAL, but not without stiff competition from their league rivals.

New head coach of Moreau Catholic High School Enrique Hernandez doesn't mind the challenge posed by the two defending champions.

"We do not let that hinder our focus," said Hernandez, who is taking over the Moreau program after four years as an assistant coach. "If anything, it fuels our hunger to be one of the best schools, because we realize that the better we do with these Division One/Two schools, the better we will fare with everyone in Division Four."

Last year, Moreau sent their girls varsity team to the state championships, and their boys team narrowly missed a team berth at state. Returning to lead the girls team are Anika Adeni, Erin Sefreno and Maggie Hannon. The boys are anchored by Paul Burchac and Johnny Boos, and Hernandez is looking for more leaders to step up during the season.

The coach is proud not just of the athletes' performance on the track but also the high standards they are achieving in the classroom.

"We're fortunate to have such a smart bunch consistently being able to average 3.6 to 4.1 GPA," said Hernandez. "They both take their sports and their classroom seriously, and this is what sets them apart."

Tennyson High School, whose boys team finished seventh and girls finished sixth in the HAAL, is optimistic about this season, with the loss of only two graduating seniors. The Lancers are anticipating exceptional seasons from seniors Brian Luong, Jose Reyes and Vanessa Monnarrez.

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