Granada Boys Cross Country Places Second at State and 16th in the Nation


Mia Bartl, Reporter

This past week, Granada’s boys’ cross country team was one of 22 teams selected to compete in the Nike Cross National Race (NXN). The invitation included an all expenses paid trip to Portland, where the race was held, and all participating runners were given custom uniforms, shoes, and sweat suits courtesy of Nike. Following an impressive performance on Saturday, Granada’s boys cross country team has been ranked 16th in the nation.  

Granada Boys Cross Country Team at Nike Cross Nationals in Portland

The team’s journey to nationals began with the state meet, held every year in Fresno, at Woodward Park. The course is notoriously difficult, “It’s a pretty challenging course,” said Liam Manley, “there’s a pretty big hill in the middle.”

Farin Soriano added on, “It’s [the hill] right in the middle, so you kind of have to get past that part, and then there’s rolling hills throughout, which makes the course more difficult.”

Regardless, the team was optimistic heading into the state championship. “I felt pretty prepared,” said Jake Walton, “It’s probably my favorite course, it’s the one I’ve done the best at in past years.” 

The boys drove down to Fresno a day early to ensure a good night’s rest before the state race. With teams like Newbury Park and Ventura competing in the race, it was bound to be competitive.

Dheeraj Gurusamy finished 22nd in the race, and discussed his strategy, “There are parts where I have to focus insanely hard so I don’t fall back, there’s always a tempo I have to set. I have to move with the flow of the race. When I’m running, as people are behind me or in front of me, I just try to move with them, try to move up as much as possible. If you fall behind, it’s kind of over.”

Granada finished second in the state, behind first place team Newbury Park, with a score of 99. With such an impressive performance at Woodward, they had secured their spot at NXN. The team, obviously, had plenty to celebrate afterwards, and enjoyed their traditional dinner at The Habit Burger Grill before heading back to Livermore. “Every single time we’ve raced there [Woodward Park] we’ve gone to that exact Habit. Very good, very tasty,” remarked Luther Hart. 

Granada Boys Check Out The Course the Day Before Nationals

With all the hard work the team had put into the 2022 season, pressure was undoubtedly high leading up to state. For nationals, though, the primary goal was to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience. “We were just going out to have fun,” Hart said, “We had an idea of wanting to beat the other California teams, but, at the end of the day, we just wanted to race hard.” The scenery surrounding the course was gorgeous, filled with tons of greenery with an outlook on a lake.

NXN Finish Line

Weather reports for the day of the race revealed a possibility of rain or even snow, causing some anxiety amongst Granada runners. Luckily, though it was cold that morning, the skies were clear. The course itself wasn’t easy to run.

“It actually might’ve been harder than Woodward. It was very hilly,” said Soriano.

Though it didn’t rain the day of the race, the weather in Portland still affected the intensity of the course, “It was muddy” revealed Gurusamy. Despite these difficulties, Granada managed themselves extremely well in the national race, finishing 16th in the nation. 

Granada Boys Warm Up Before National Race






Running wasn’t the only thing the boys had to do over the three day trip, however. The Nike complex provided plenty of activities to keep the runners occupied during their stay.

“They [Nike] had a game room, olympians would speak at the dinners, and they provided us hotel rooms,” said Manley, “I think it was really cool to see the olympians and talk to kids from across the country. A few of my teammates got autographs.”


The game room included ping pong and foosball tables and was open at virtually all times. Shoes were displayed on the walls for all to see. A couple of Granada runners were even able to try on unreleased Nike Vaporflies and provide Nike representatives with feedback on the shoes. Though they did not get to keep the unreleased shoes, each of Granada’s runners were gifted sweatshirts, sweatpants, their custom uniforms, backpacks, and a brand new pair of running shoes. Across the board, the favorite piece of gear was the shoes. According to Gurusamy, “These [the shoes] are called, like, peg turbos. They’re, like, $150 and they feel great.” 

After the race, Nike hosted a neon-themed party for all the athletes who competed in nationals. For the first time in months, runners could relax, let loose, and celebrate their season of hard work and great success.The team stayed in Portland together for a total of three days. Not being allowed to leave the Nike complex, they were together virtually the entire trip, whether it be while running, partying, enjoying the rec room, or bunking together in hotel rooms. Obviously, the team’s performance at nationals, being ranked 16th in the nation, was a huge athletic success for them, but it appears the trip to Portland was also an amazing bonding experience, as evidenced by Luther Hart’s comment, “After NXN, I like them [the team] probably even more than I did before,” and Liam Manley’s follow up, “After three days together, I’m not sick of them, [the team] I still love these guys.”

Granada Boys Re-Charge After Successful Race