Scotts Valley High senior Jeremy Kain has a list of goals he set for this upcoming cross country season.
It’s not a long list but it is important to him that each one of those goals gets checked off before his final season in a Falcons uniform comes to an end.
The first of those goals is winning a Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League individual title for a remarkable third straight year, followed by a top finish in the Central Coast Section championships and finally a trip to the CIF State finals, which he also aims to win.
“Going into the season I think our guys’ team, and our girls’ team, have some pretty big goals and we’ve been working hard to achieve those,” he said. “At this point, everyone’s just excited to start racing at a normal time.”
The Falcons are coming off a shortened Covid-19 season that began in January and ended with a third consecutive SCCAL title. Kain won the race in a blazing 14 minutes, 49 seconds, beating Aptos High’s Ben Laughlin by less than a second.
Kain said the start of this season already feels much better compared to the previous one. For starters, he mentioned the spring season could’ve been canceled at any given moment and things were always up in the air.
“You didn’t necessarily know what you were preparing for and you just had to take every single opportunity that you had to perform,” he said.
Kain mentioned that this season is not guaranteed either, because of the Delta variant of the virus. But, he said at the same time it still feels like things are back to “normal.”
Falcons first-year coach Todd Hoffman said he’s thrilled for all the cross country student-athletes in the league to get back to running and competing in traditional meets without having to start in waves like last season.
Hoffman replaced long-time coach Gretchen Schmitt after she announced last year that it would be her final run on the program.
“It’s been successful so I can’t let it go down,” he said.
Kain, who had an unofficial visit to Stanford this summer, will be joined this season by the other co-captain, Austin George. Hoffman said that George makes sure others on the team are up to speed and checks in with them on a regular basis.
“[Kain and George] work really well together, they both have the same goals,” Hoffman said. “The leadership on the team is making it a great team.”
Other runners to watch for this season include seniors Ryder Brabo, Drew Bryson and Evan Granados, and juniors Aiden Boothby, Jack Brownfield and Jonah Verinsky.
“We’ve got a great group of guys, everyone is really dedicated and really excited, and honestly I couldn’t be more excited, too,” Kain said.
Hoffman said the new group of runners is watching how things operate at Scotts Valley, taking note of every workout and mile the veterans put in as they prepare for the upcoming season.
“It just keeps the running culture that we have here going. It’s fun to watch,” he said.
Hoffman said each team has the same set of goals starting with a league title run. That’s followed by a trip to the CCS finals and then hopes of reaching the CIF State championship.
The ultimate goal this year for Kain is to win the state title and not just for himself, but for the Scotts Valley program. He said it’s been a work in progress for the past four years and now is the time to get it done.
As for the league title, Kain said the Falcons might have a target on their backs but that’s what makes the challenge of going for four straight championships that much more exciting.
“It’s something to prove to people that this is who we are and this is what we’re capable of,” he said. “From a league standpoint, I don’t want to speak too soon, but I’d like to say we can repeat for the fourth time.”
Hoffman believes without a doubt the target is there and he would like to think other teams are coming after them this season. But, he also knows they’ll be more than prepared when the time comes.
“Our guys, they’re ready to handle it,” he said. “They think about it, but they’re just going to go run. The big thing this year is just go have some fun.”