2019 TOXC Captains

As Captains, we want to continue on the legacy of Thousand Oaks Cross Country–a competitive team that has state, CIF, and league titles on both sides, and a fun team known throughout the state for our TOXC capes and goofy antics at meets. We encourage new runners to really buy into our team and into our program and to get everything they can out of the joy of running with friends. If anyone comes into TOXC ready to run and to work hard they’ll get more out of it than they put in; all of us captains can attest to that.

We welcome all new runners; welcome to the TOXC family! And to all returning runners, welcome back. Keep up the hard work from years past and you’ll be amazed to see where you’ll get!

captains TOXC 2019 2

captains TOXC 2019

Ethan Darden, Jay Lesny, Michael Mireles

Tallula Auman, Kiara Benioff, Katie Daniels, Mackenzie Kelley

Tallula AumanTallula captain 2018

Nickname: Tooga

Favorite subject in school: Art or English

I’m really good at: Taboo

Theme song: Mr. Brightside

Hidden talent: Singing

When did you start running? What got you interested?  I started running youth track when I was about 7 years old because my brother was already on the program. I would not say I was really interested in doing track when I was young, it was just something my parents put me into and it kind of stuck.

How would you describe your experience with Thousand Oaks Cross Country? My experience with cross country has taught me to be mentally and physically tough. Cross country demands a lot of focus and drive and because of that I have become a diligent and hard worker.

As a captain, what are your goals for the team going into the TOXC season? As a captain I want to make TOXC fun! I hope people to be excited to come to practice and see their friends, or excited to work hard with their teammates. Sometimes I think that i can get really easy to separate hard work and fun, but who said you can’t do both? I can’t wait to make TOXC 2019 the best yet!

Other Comments: I can’t to have a fantastic season with you all!

Ethan Darden
Nickname: Dardo
Favorite subject in school: History
I’m really good at: Cooking! I love to cook, and I cook for my teammates all the time.
Favorite quote: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” -Corinthians, 9;24
Hidden talent: I play the banjo
When did you start running? What got you interested? My parents were planning on me playing all different sports till I found one I liked, but the first sport I tried was track and field and I fell in love, I joined cross country the following summer, and I’ve been running every since. As a side note, which I’ve loved my time running, I’m most inspired by kids who start running in high school and build something with their passion!
How would you describe your experience with Thousand Oaks Cross Country? TOXC has been my second family for the last 3 years. All my teammates are my brothers and sisters and every moment I get to spend with them is a blessing and I gift unto itself. I will say that the team is whatever you make of it, so embrace your time and the team and love it for what it is. If I ever seem too excited about running or about my team, it’s because I definitely am and always will be.
As a captain, what are your goals for the team going into the TOXC season? I’ve seen the team in a lot of different levels of success, and I’m happy to say that every year I’ve only seen it become more successful. That said, I want to see the boys team repeat their state appearance like they did last year, I want to see the girls team well into the post season where they belong and I want to see some of the younger kids find their passion in the sport and in the team. These are some pretty heavy goals, and they are going to take some very hard work on the part of the captains and all of the runners, but I have absolute confidence in everyone’s ability to accomplish them.
Other Comments: Talk to your teammates!! I spent my first 2 months on the team quietly standing in the corner reading the news on my phone because I was too shy to talk to these kids that I didn’t know yet. If you’re a freshman at practice and you’re scared to talk to the kids you don’t know yet, just come talk to me, I’m always excited to get to know my new teammates!

Kiara Benioffkiarab2019captain
Nickname: Kia
Favorite Subject in school: English
I’m really good at: Skiing
Performance most proud of: League Finals in the 800m this past track season
Favorite quote: “Don’t eat two Baja Fresh burritos before a race.” -Kiara Benioff
Hidden talent: Knitting
When did you start running?What got you interested? I started running my freshman year when my friends Maycie and Katie convinced me to try it with them.
How would you describe your experience with Thousand Oaks Cross Country? Always having a good time with the girls running all over Thousand Oaks
As a Captain, what are your goals for the team going into the TOXC season? Having a lot of fun everyday and kicking butt on our way to State.

Jay Lesny
Nickname: Big Jay, Jay Jay the Jetplane or JJ
Favorite Subject in school: Math and History
I’m really good at: Cheering for the LA Kings, chirping opponents, joking
Performance most proud of: Closing out TOXC winning Ventura County Championships
Favorite Quote: “Success is a peace of mind, which is a direct results of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best which you are capable.”- John Wooden
Theme Song: “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC
Hidden Talent: Playing the clarinet, Speaking Czech
When did you start running?What got you interested? I started running freshman year because I was told I couldn’t do soccer since I was enrolled in the marching band. This is not true, but looking back I am glad that someone told me the wrong info. I decided to do track instead since I felt like a strong runner when I played soccer in AYSO. I fell in love with the mid-distance events, and then Mitchell along with a couple of other kids convinced me to do cross country. I wasn’t so sure at first I wanted to do it, but I soon found myself obsessed with long distance running and the mental toughness that comes along with it. I’ve stuck with it ever since!
How would you describe your experience with Thousand Oaks Cross Country? My experience has been super fun! I could have never imagined myself being a distance runner but here I am. All the wonderful experiences I’ve had with my friends and everything I have learned has allowed me to become a better and stronger person. I am so happy that I joined cross country because I have a second family that will always be there for me. It has been great making new friends and being park of a such cool team.
As a Captain, what are your goals for the team going into the TOXC season? As a captain, I want to make sure everyone feels welcome. If you have any concerns or questions, please come talk to me! I want everyone to feel like that cross country is their home away from home. Along with that, I want to lead a team to success. I want my experience and leadership to help everyone reach success and break limits they never thought was possible. Reaching new heights is what I want everyone to experience. Finally, I want everyone to have fun! If I can make the sport fun, then It will be a wonderful experience for all. For both the boys and girls, I want to see a long postseason push. I want to create history and rewrite the record books with all of you!
Other Comments: “Relax, you live longer.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger

Katie Danielskatiedanielscaptain2019.jpeg
Nickname: Kate
Favorite subject in school: Biology
I’m really good at: Baking… I love making and decorating fun desserts!
Performance I’m most proud of: Over a 4 minute personal record on the time trial course!
Favorite Quote: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” -Walt Disney
Theme song: The Nights by Avicii
Hidden talent: I love to draw and paint!
When did you start running? What got you interested?: I started running at the beginning of the summer before Freshmen year. I had never ran before I joined XC. I used to be the kid in PE that would walk the mile because I didn’t want to run. I decided to try XC because it seemed like an interesting sport and a couple of my friends were doing it. Now, I absolutely love running and love the XC team!
How would you describe your experience with Thousand Oaks Cross Country?: My experience on Thousand Oaks Cross Country has been amazing! This team has made me so much stronger, physically and mentally. I have learned so many important skills that I will carry on with me forever. I’ve learned how to work hard while still having fun, and kicking butt! I have met so many life long friends on XC and I am excited for another year with the team!
As a captain, what are your goals for the team going into the TOXC season?: My goal for this TOXC season, is to guide the team to success with hard work and positive attitudes. When our team puts in the work, we will be able to reach whatever goals we put our mind to. I hope to promote a supportive and positive environment for my teammates and push everybody to achieve their goals.
Other Comments: I am super excited to be a captain this year and to see where our team can go this year!!

Michael Mirelesmichaelbucketscaptain2019.png

Nickname: “Buckets”

Favorite subject in school: Science

I’m really good at: Making people laugh/making the all state team in cross country

Favorite Quote: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”-Prefontaine

Hidden talent: Walk and chew gum at the same time

When did you start running? What got you interested?  When I got cut from the soccer team, I started running track

How would you describe your experience with Thousand Oaks Cross Country?: It’s been the best 3 years of my life so far. I’ve made friends that I will have for a lifetime. It’s given me the confidence needed for the college world as well as strength.

As a captain, what are your goals for the team going into the TOXC season? I want our varsity girls and boys team to make and win a state championship title. I want our boys varsity team to go under 14:45 average PRs. I want as many guys and girls as possible to qualify for either new balance nationals for NXN. I really want to be the role model needed for a great team like TOXC

Other Comments: I love this team! Let’s go make the season a great one! Go lancers!!!

Mackenzie Kelleymackelleycaptain 2019

Nickname: Mack or Mack Attack

Favorite subject in school: English

I’m really good at: I’m really good at cooking. I love to finding new and healthy ways to fuel my body before a race or tough workout.

Performance most proud of: My Woodbridge race freshman yar. During this race, I learned that in order to push yourself and PR, you must not set your limits based on what you have already accomplished, but what you think you can do in the future.

Favorite Quote: “On the other side of your fear is your freedom”

Hidden talent: I also horseback ride competitively!

When did you start running? What got you interested?  In middle school, I would always see the XC team running and thought that it looked fun. I started running the summer before my 8th grade year and instantly fell in love with the sport and racing. Before I found XC, I had done a large variety of sports such as soccer, dance, horseback riding, wrestling, and others. Once I began to run, I realized what I had been missing and that I wanted to run competitively in high school.

How would you describe your experience with Thousand Oaks Cross Country? My experience with TOXC has been nothing but phenomenal. I have found my closest friends on this team and we have become a family that stands by one another through injury and tough times. I have also learned that hard work pays off, whether it be in running or life.

As a captain, what are your goals for the team going into the TOXC season? My goals for the new 2019 TOXC season is to see our team grow even closer than we already are. I want the incoming runners to feel like the team is their new TOHS family and for everyone to feel excited to come out to practice everyday and work hard. Finally, I want to make sure that everyone continues to have fun and love the sport while working hard.

Other Comments: If you are an incoming freshman, don’t be intimidated by the returners. We are all very excited for you to be joining our team and can’t wait to see where your freshman year will take you! In addition, if anyone is having issues personal or running related, I am always available to try and help you figure out what your going through. I can’t wait to see where this new season will take us!!