Seventh-Eighth Girls Cross Country Team Wins Santa Cruz Small Schools League Championship

Seventh Grader Pierce Culbertson Scores Undefeated Season

Mount Madonna School (MMS) middle school cross country teams concluded their season with some wins and notable finishes in their league final meet, held October 26 at Anna Jean Cummings County Park in Soquel. Seventh grader Pierce Culbertson – an avid cross country runner for several years – took first place in the seventh-eighth grade girls race with a time of 11:28 on the 1.75 mile course.  Eighth grader Rory Kayne finished second among eighth graders (third overall) with a time of 13:36 and classmate Minami Wu finished third among eighth graders (fifth overall) at 14:53.

The meet was divided into four races – second through sixth grades, boys and girls, and seventh and eighth grade, boys and girls; some 30 runners competed in each race, through the Santa Cruz Small Schools League, which includes Mount Madonna School, Baymonte Christian, Chrysostom Classical Academy, Gateway, Georgiana Bruce Kirby, Green Valley Christian, Holy Cross, Salesian, Santa Cruz Montessori (Wavecrest), Tierra Pacifica and Twin Lakes Christian.

The MMS seventh-eighth grade girls team went undefeated this season, and won every cross country meet as a team. At the finals, the MMS girls team was awarded the 2023 league championship.

“We had a fantastic season with students showing up before school to run and giving it their all at our races,” commented coach Nicole Silva Culbertson. “I really appreciate the dedication it takes from the students to show up early in the morning to go for a run before school starts, and also to work through their nerves – and pain – during the races! Kudos to all of these student athletes, and a special congratulations to all of those who improved so tremendously throughout the season.”

Pierce Culbertson went undefeated as an individual in the league and won every race. Rory Kayne, Minami Wu were also strong finishers and routinely finished in the top five of the races they competed in.

Eighth grader Aiden Powers was also a top finisher for the MMS boys in numerous races, as well as seventh graders Felix Alvarado and River Russell and sixth grader Ryan Henderson.

In the final competition, Powers finished sixth, Alvarado, 11th and Russell 15th.

The MMS students who competed on the 2023-24 middle school cross country team are (by grade): Bay Vivanco-Risner, third; Jules Moutafian, fifth; Rio Vivanco-Risner, Ryan Henderson, sixth; Felix Alvarado, Nolan McKibbin, Nyah Melton, Pierce Culbertson, River Russell, seventh; and Aiden Powers, Marlowe Yen, Minami Wu, Nina Garcia, Rory Kayne, Sera Krawetz, Sophia Krawetz, eighth grade.

Full results can be found here.

“I am so proud of the middle school cross country team for their tenacity and dedication this season!” commented assistant coach Kami Pacheco. “It’s not easy to wake up extra early for our morning runs and to stay late for our meets at different schools, but they all worked together as a team and did their best individually! Teammates from different grades connected with each other and had a lot of fun during the rides to and from practice and meets.”

The Mount Madonna Hawks middle school athletics program will continue this school year with basketball, lacrosse, volleyball, soccer and track and field.

“I hope the students will continue to try new sports,” said Silva Culbertson . “I will be coaching track in the spring and hope to have all the cross country kids – and more – back out there!”


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communication,

Nestled among the redwoods on 380 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believes a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The program, accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.