After a two-year wait, Orange Lutheran High School’s cross country program is returning to a regular schedule of fall competition, and both the boys and girls squads have their sights set on making an appearance at the CIF State Meet.
While last year’s slate was limited to dual meets against Trinity League opponents, this year the Lancer runners are back to attending familiar meets annually held across SoCal. They will kick things off this Saturday, September 4, at the Fastback Shootout hosted at Mt. SAC, the same site they will race for the CIF-SS meet in November.
Having lost a number of the members of the 2019 CIF championship team to graduation, the girls side of the program has been steadily rebuilding. OLu cross country head coach Kristen Goossens is expecting breakout seasons from junior runner Caroline Kargenian and freshman newcomer Jessica Vandenberg.
Newly released preseason polls have the girls ranked fifth in CIF-SS Division 4, and Goossens is confident that this year’s group is a state contender.
“I’m not as fixated on the place that we get,” says Goossens. “With the girls, I think it’s about narrowing down our team time and developing some of the depth.”
On the boys side, solid depth is already present, as reflected by their first place CIF-SS Division 4 preseason ranking. Senior runners Noah Lockwood, Ethan Pacholl and Nate Patton will be joined by a number of seasoned sophomore and junior runners who are ready to make some noise in the Trinity League. Freshman runner Carson DiSaia is also emerging as a strong contributor.
“I’m super excited to get these boys to a good place,” says Goossens.
Grateful for the chance to compete, Goossens’ message to the team is that each runner, no matter their age or ability, has a crucial role to play in helping the program meet its goals. If they keep that concept at the forefront and learn to count on each other, success will follow.
“I’m focused on these kids jelling together, establishing goals and learning how to not take anything for granted,” says Goossens. “And I’ll take that if it means I’ve got a good group of kids that works really hard and reaches their potential. Every day is an opportunity to get better.”