Track and Cross Country Coach Jorge Chen Recalls Most Memorable Moments


Menlo alumin Lauren Hamilton (‘19), Kyra Petre (‘20), Charlotte Tomkinson (‘20), Michelle Louie (‘20) and Alexandra Chan (‘19) smile for the camera after winning the 2019 Girls CCS Track Championships. Photo courtesy of Jorge Chen.

Danielle McNair, Staff Writer

Varsity boys and girls track and cross country coach Jorge Chen is currently in his 19th season at Menlo. In that time, Chen has led cross country to win two Central Coast Section titles and seven League Championships. During the spring season, Chen has coached the track team to seven Central Coast Section titles, nine League Championships and one California Interscholastic Federation Championship.

Chen was brought to Menlo by Middle School Athletics Director Joe McDonald. “[McDonald] connected with me through a middle school student that I used to tutor,” Chen said. “I was a Stanford girls basketball summer camp coach at the time, and [McDonald] needed a seventh grade girls basketball assistant.” 

Chen and McDonald coached the seventh grade girls basketball team together the following season. The Menlo Upper School then needed a sprints coach for track, and McDonald referred Chen to the program. “The rest is history,” Chen said. 

For Chen, memorable moments in his coaching career span from individual accomplishments to championship performances. The first memorable moment was the 2012 West Bay Athletic League Championship. “Both the girls and boys won their first since 1999, which would start a series of league crowns, minus 2014,” Chen said. 

Next, Chen recalled the 2019 Girls CCS Track Championships, where only five female athletes participated to capture the crown. “It was the first time since 1974 that a small school had won CCS. That night, it was all about putting the team first,” Chen said. 

In the 2019 cross country season the team surprised Chen and his wife Sarah by wearing pink in WBAL 1. “They did it to honor Sarah’s battle against breast cancer,” Chen said. “That really meant a lot to us.” 

Another memorable moment from the 2019 cross country season was the CCS Finals. “We had over 30 fans at our cross country meet going absolutely bananas. It was Menlo school spirit at its best,” Chen said. “That day, both of our teams made it to State for the first time in school history.” 

“These four moments are definitely ones I’ll never forget,” Chen concluded.

The 2019 varsity cross country team wore pink at the meet WBAL 1 in honor of Chen’s wife Sarah and her battle against breast cancer. Photo courtesy of Jorge Chen.

Menlo’s track and cross country programs have had plenty of memorable moments, as well as a strong list of outstanding individuals in its history, according to Chen. Maddy Price (‘14) was a member of Chen’s track and field team who went on to run for the Canadian National Team. Lizzie Lacy (‘15), during her time at Menlo, finished top ten in the country in the 2014 Foot Locker National Cross Country Championship. And lastly, Robert Miranda (’18) is Menlo’s and the WBAL league’s record holder in all distance events.

For Chen, being a coach is more important than just winning races; it is about being able to teach runners about life outside of just running faster. “Teaching my athletes life lessons through teamwork, generosity, humility and working towards contributing in any way to the common good is my goal as a Menlo coach,” Chen said. 

Chen feels honored to be able to be a coach at Menlo and be a part of the Menlo community. “I call it the Menlo family,” Chen said. “Over the years, I’ve had the honor of building friendships with athletes, parents and all staff members. This is a very special place where the kids are very talented in many fields, but also care for each other all the time. This is why I call Menlo my second home.”