The Redwood Empire returned from the North Coast Section Cross Country Championships at Hayward High School with three champions Saturday.
Pre-meet talk was around whether Piner’s Luis Luna and his team could claim wins. Both fell one spot short of the winners circle but other Empire runners were more successful and now lay claim to being NCS Champs.
First race of the day was the girls Division IV race with El Molino’s Nicole Lane. Lane has been tearing up courses and the competition all year but it took everything she had on this day to defeat St. Mary’s College’s Spencer Moore by two seconds over the three mile course. At 17:43 and 17:45 they were both more than a minute ahead of the rest of the field with third, Fort Bragg’s state qualifier Alexandra Sciocchetti, in 19:04.
“This years race was similar to last years except Moore won that one.” said Lane, “I tried to stay in front of her this year but with 400 meters to go she passed me but I wanted to go out with a bang for my senior year so I was able to pass her back after a few strides and pull away from there.”
On the team side the Empire claimed its only team championship in the girls division II race as Maria Carrillo triumphed over the field with some strong performances. Casa Grande’s Ashley Moffett qualified for the state meet in second at 18:20 but Carrillo placed third, fourth and eighth with freshman Andrea Natoli 18:37, junior Lauren Kraus 18:37 and junior Brynna Thigpen18:57 all in the top ten. “Andrea has been a little shy to try and run with Lauren.” Coach Greg Fogg said, “but what really helped the team today was the strong placing by Brynna with a big personal best today.” This was Carrrillo’s fifth NCS win since 2004. Also advancing to state were Casa’s Chloe Hall in 10th (19:05) and Windsors Victoria Tomaszewski in 11th (19:10).
The last and probably most surprising winner of the day for the Empire came in the division I boys race as Santa Rosa senior Michael Tomasi pulled off the win. “I thought Michael had a real good shot at qualifing on to state from this meet but never did I dream he would win it.” said coach Doug Courtemarche, “Michael had one of those smiles after the race that is what it’s all about.” So strong was the North Bay League finals this year that Tomasi was only sixth in that race. Tomasi became the fourth Panther male to win an NCS title since 1990.
On this day Campolindo was just a bit to strong for the Piner’s boys team as Campolindo ‘s Thomas Joyce (14:58) bested Luis Luna (15:03) for the two fastest times of the day from all the divisions. Campolindo scored 63 points to Piner’s 82 for the team crown in division III. Both teams will battle again at state.
Sonoma Valley senior Alex Conner placed third in that race to earn his trip to Fresno next week with a 15:17 time.
In the boys division II race Ukiah’s Paul Holden (15:20) and the Carrillo’s boys team both qualified for state with second place finishes. Carrillo was lead by junior Harrison Luft’s 8th place finish in 15:49.
Cardinal Newman had a strong showing and state qualifying third place in the Division IV race with Alexi Taylor placing second in 15:52.
Sonoma Academy was the fifth Empire school to earn a state trip with a 4th place finish in Division V, lead by 12th place Jax Reiff in 16:27. Cloverdale’s Joe Carrillo will also go on from that race from his 5th place finish in 15:42.
Three more girls qualified on as individuals as twins Kyra (7th 18:29) and Dezirae Johnson (15th 18:50) of Piner in division III race and Sonoma Academy’s Katy Lee (8th 19:01) division V rounded out the Empire qualifiers.