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Dublin High School Cross Country Teams Emerge as Jewels in the Athletic Crown

December 21, 2021

“You can’t build a reputation on what you intend to do.” – Liz Smith, English Actress

The successful rise of an athletic program is usually a gradual and constant process. It takes the combination of commitment, innovation, athletes that compete for each other and sometimes a bit of good fortune. What Coach Chris Williams has accomplished with the cross country program at DHS has been nothing short of remarkable. This has not been an overnight sensation. It’s an accomplishment that has been built over a number of years. Roughly 75 students compose the boys and girls teams.

Prior to Thanksgiving, the team had been preparing to compete in the CIF North Coast Section Championship to be held at Hayward High School and hosted by Campolindo. Based upon previous successes and their training schedule, Williams felt that the athletes were poised for both team and individual success. However, the meet results may have exceeded even the most optimistic projections. Scores of students compete across five different divisions in the three-mile distance – Dublin High competes in Division 1. The girls team captured 2nd place and became the first girls team in school history to qualify for the California Interscholastic Federation State Championship. The boys team etched their place in the annals by winning their fifth consecutive NCS title. This achievement was further embellished by the fact that the finishers recorded the first ever perfect score (15-point performance) in history. To decipher: the first five finishers in this event of 53 elite runners were from Dublin High School. In sum, this is the first time that both teams have qualified to compete at the State Championships.

We reached out to Coach Williams to suggest two athletes that we could profile with the willingness to speak on behalf of their experiences and teammates. Without hesitation, he suggested seniors Joshua Turpin and Maia Marquez. Josh matriculated through Green Elementary and Fallon Middle School. His brother Cole also competes on the team. Maia relocated from Fremont and was a fifth grader at Frederiksen Elementary and then continued to Wells Middle School. We recently sat down to discuss the NCS meet and how athletics has positively impacted their high school journey.

DHS seniors and cross country teammates Maia Marquez and Joshua Turpin. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

OneDublin.org: Entering the North Coast Section (NCS) Championship, please describe the environment at Hayward High School and how did you and your teammates handled the expectations of extending the streak?

Joshua Turpin: “Entering the North Coast Section Championship (NCS), the environment was very competitive. Having won the Division One East Bay Athletic League Championship (EBAL), a lot of other teams saw us as the ones to chase after. However, as a team, we knew that our fitness level was to the point where we were the projected winners of the race. Knowing that, we humbled ourselves because we knew if we slipped up, another team could easily take the title from us. Our coach had a goal for us, not just to win, but to get a perfect score, 15 points. That’s where your team scores the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth runners. In the history of the NCS championships, that had never been done before, and we decided that we wanted to go down as legends to be the first team to ever accomplish this feat. That being said, going into the race we had high expectations, and a lot of pressure on our shoulders. Not only did we have to extend the streak of winning NCS five times in a row, we had to make history. Fortunately, as a team we were able to accomplish both of those goals which was an amazing moment, and to top it all off, our girls team got second, and made it to the California Interscholastic Federation State meet for the first time in school history. Overall, I think that race will go down as the best day in Dublin Cross Country history, a lot of happy tears were shed and a legend was born.”

Maia Marquez: “There was inevitably some nerves amongst our team. However, more notably, I felt this sense of confidence radiating over the girls team for the first time ever during a Championship race. I specifically remember Coach Williams referencing his season mantra in the previous night’s team meeting, telling us how our training has given us everything we need to be successful physically, and all that we need to tie everything together is our mentality, or rather, to simply “believe” in ourselves. The intimidation pre-race our team felt was present when we walked the very familiar Hayward High course and when we looked at our competitors, the top teams, and the huge number of spectators all over the racecourse. But the moment we toed the line, and the gun went off, I knew each member of our team was confident in what we were capable of. As the race went by, mile by mile, we worked together to move up, finding the means to still encourage one another despite our exhaustion. When we had all crossed the finish line, I remember exactly how everything unfolded when Coach Williams told us we had qualified for the State Championships: we all burst into tears, athletes, and coaches alike, hugging each other and telling each other that we finally made school history because we “believed” in ourselves.”

OneDublin.org: There are a multitude of paths for each student to pursue at DHS. As an athlete, please describe what this four-year journey has meant to you and how it has fueled your personal growth. 

Marquez: “It has definitely been a unique yet challenging experience to navigate through the circumstances COVID-19 has brought upon all of us. Having to be isolated from each other truly took a toll on many people, including myself. Each of our hopes, dreams and goals we had set for ourselves in the coming seasons of cross country went into this large pool of uncertainty. I remember many days at practice where I often felt like I was training for nothing. The isolation we all had experienced during the pandemic also brought many mental health struggles amongst many of our teammates. Being able to see myself and many others work past these mental demons and receive the opportunity to not only race, but to foster our energy and efforts to have such a successful cross-country season is beyond inspiring. Being told that I am a leader and am able to inspire such a hardworking and dedicated team is truly such an honor.”

Turpin: “Being an athlete at DHS is something that I take large amounts of pride in. Being an athlete, especially a Dublin Cross Country (DXC) athlete is so much more than just going to practice and running. It becomes part of your identity and shapes you to become a better person. Being a DXC athlete is also very hard. Doing well in academics, as well as going to practice six days a week for three hours a day is something that not many people can do, it requires a lot of time management and dedication. DXC also isn’t a program that people just join to fill up PE credits and mess around. If you are a part of the team, you put in 100% of your effort every day. As our coach likes to say, “99% isn’t enough”. Aside from all of that though, being a part of the team is like a family away from home. We all take pride in not just being successful runners, but also having good character as well. I do not think I would be the same person I am today without DXC. We teach each other how to be better people and learn traits that will be helpful in the real world. I can say that without a doubt, DXC is the best program on Dublin High campus. I have also made lifelong friends through this program that I feel like have become my brothers and sisters, and if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Members and coaches of the DHS Cross Country team enjoying a championship moment. Photo by: Anne Ha

OneDublin.org: The size of the cross country squad is quite large, but you’ve stated that Coach Williams touches each person. Please explain what his leadership has meant to you and others.

Turpin: “Despite the size of the cross-country team, Coach Williams gives each member the same treatment, no matter if they are varsity, or just starting out. It is amazing really, the amount of time and dedication that our coach puts into every single one of his athletes. The amount of hours he spends meticulously calculating numbers for each member to have their own practice plans is just a testament to his amazing coaching ability. He tries to make every person the best possible athlete that they can be, and I believe he achieves that. Unlike many other schools, where the coach mainly spends time with the varsity athletes and neglects the slower athletes, our coach takes pride in all of us. On our team we stress the idea that every single member is important and has a role to play. Even the slowest runner on our team is important to all of us and trains just as hard as the rest of us do. Coach Williams isn’t just a great coach, he is also a great person with good values and character. He teaches us how to be better people and gives us the tools that we need to succeed in the real world. Coach Williams shows that he believes in all of us, and cares about us deeply, and I really do feel that. He does yell a lot though, but I know he only does it because he cares and wants us to get better. I know that Coach Williams is undoubtedly one of the greatest coaches of all time and his love and passion for Cross Country is unmatched.”

Marquez: “Coach Williams’ ability to build personal relationships with each and every single member of our team despite our team’s size has and will continue to make life-long impacts on many individuals. Many alumni of our program routinely visit our program because of how they still feel a part of themselves are connected to the team and this culture of family we have created, and I personally plan on doing the same. Cross-country at Dublin High is not only known as the most close-knit team on campus, but also as a team composed of the most hardworking coaches on campus. Coach Williams gives our team everything he could possibly provide so we can be successful. From sacrificing family time, to staying up until 3 a.m. creating personalized workouts for each of us, to his infamous and passionate pre-race speeches, and even to his intimidating and serious presence, Coach Williams undoubtedly plays an extremely significant role in our team culture – this team is a true reflection of Coach Williams’ hard work, dedication and passion.”

OneDublin.org: What are your academic and potentially athletic goals beyond Dublin High School?

Marquez: “While I am looking to attend an in-state and four-year university after graduating from Dublin High, I am not closing any doors to opportunities to run cross country at a collegiate level. I am currently awaiting offers from Division 1 college coaches who have previously expressed interest and am also exploring these possibilities through official visits. I am most interested in attending a UC to complete my pre-med degree with plans of pursuing vet med thereafter. I find the balance between athletics and academics in UCs most beneficial and suitable for my personal goals, so if given the chance, it would be a tremendous honor to be in a UC roster. It would be a privilege for me to showcase to everyone what kind of student athletes the Dublin High cross-country program produces and hope to someday make my Dublin High coaches proud.”

Turpin: “My academic and athletic goals beyond Dublin High School are not yet concrete. I like to keep as many doors open as possible because you never know when great opportunities may arise in the future. I have received a few offers from universities who want me to run on their team, however I am not sure if that is the path I want to take yet. I know that as a runner, I am not fast enough to run at the top Division one schools that I may get into based on my academic merits, such as a UC school. As of right now I have two major decisions I could make, I could continue my running career at a smaller school, or I could go to a big university and possibly join a running club or be a walk-on, both of which are equally good options. However, one thing that I do know for sure is that I will be majoring in Business and Economics in whatever school that I end up attending. I think that business really stood out to me because it is a career that requires one to have good people skills, which I think I excel in. Also, being in the business field, there is no limit to how far you can go, so I think that my competitive spirit will allow me to climb the ranks and really succeed. Tying this all back into DXC, I feel confident going forward with my life knowing that I have learned many vital skills such as: time management, talking to superiors, dedication, grit, and many more that will allow me to go far in life. I feel like if I can succeed in Dublin Cross Country, then I can succeed anywhere.”

As one might say, “reputations are earned.” And on a perfect day, legends are born. We would like to congratulate Coach Chris Williams for the team’s accomplishments and for serving as an exemplary leader. OneDublin.org would also express our gratitude to Maia Marquez and Joshua Turpin for their candor and willingness to speak on behalf of their teammates. Stay fly Dublin High.

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