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CIF-State Cross Country

Championships Preview!


B. Nelson! Trotter! Gotcher! Vince! Burchill! Horowitz!

T. Nelson! Aldridge! Hagenbuch! Flores! Timinsky!


All the mega-stars are comin' to Fresno for the year-end clash!!




From out of the shadows, Oak Park has entered the limelight!

          A great sectional rematch unfolds in our first race of the day, as Southern Section titlist Oak Park edged Orange Lutheran by two points in their latest clash, with clutch frontrunner Lauren Morales and teammates Blossom Mirimpietri and Allison Banks leading the state's top-ranked team to another of its notable "peaks"! Orange Lutheran flashed a nice peak of its own at its section finals to remain a state title threat, with Kari Andrew and an in-the-groove Andrea Bocanegra helping the crew to its finest showing in a very nice program history. Sensational depth is their calling card, always a dangerous ally at this stage of the competitive season. Sac-Joaquin Section champion Bret Harte is fresh off a commanding 21-point title effort at it finals, with Seanna Martin and Jill Semenza a great scoring duo that has their squad in the mix right off the bat! Piedmont is one group very well capable of upsetting the apple cart, with the North Coast Section champions courting impressive depth and headed by seniors Allison Jolda and Catie Gilchrist. Bishop O'Dowd was a tough challenger to Piedmont at its section finals, thanks in large part to the formidable duo of Danila Musante (second at the NCS Finals) and Anna Purcell. McFarland reigned supreme in the Central Section, running the table on its challengers to check in here as a viable "plaque contender" when the awards are determined. All-Section performer Alicia Veiss leads the group, which has built its own fine tradition alongside the boys program's storied excellence here. Maranatha looms a very dangerous force in the shadows, with two-time CIF-SS titlist Laura Meyers and teammate Lizzy Thompson forming the leadership for a group striving to overcome a rash of illnesses in recent weeks after opening the season ranked atop the state poll. Defending champion Bridget Duffy has to be considered the favorite once more, especially with the St. Mary's of Berkeley star impressing over the last half mile last weekend to pass some big names en route to her third NCS championship. The big new name on the scene is Harvard/Westlake star Lindsay Flacks, who snagged the Southern Section title while posting her third sub-18:20 effort on the revered Mt. SAC course in the last five weeks. Eight of last year's top 10 placers return here, although state runner-up Kristen Browning of Templeton suffered a stress fracture in recent days and will not compete. Kelly Rodgers of Healdsburg (third), Maranatha's Meyers (fourth) and Oak Park's Morales (fifth) are the other lead returnees.



          Sheer grit along the final mile might help determine the champion this one, as it appears favored squads from University of San Francisco (North Coast Section winners) and Chadwick (Southern Section runner-ups) have been plagued by adversity during the latter half of the season, creating a wide-open affair among the leading programs. University, which still holds down the top spot in the statewide poll, has had injuries surface, although team leader Yfa Kretzschmar and fellow frontrunner CC Regan are picking up steam! Chadwick lost four key runners down the stretch to hamper its title chances, but two-time section champion Kristin Cohoon and talented teammate Alison Brown have helped steady the boat in recent weeks, steering the Dolphins to yet-another sectional plaque! Desert Christian of Lancaster has been the team to foster real championship mettle thus far, with Jyn Wright, Claytonia Tarazi and Amy Spoelstra firing up a crew seeking its first Golden State crown! Castilleja dominated the Central Coast Section Finals, with Eva Markiewicz and Karen Ring among five scorers in the Top 10 there! Also in the mix are North Coast Section powers College Prep (second at NCS Finals) and at-large invitees Berean Christian and Lick-Wilmerding crews which rely on good balance for team success. Ontario Christian stunned many of the Southern Section powers to claim third there, with junior Tessa Tarole setting up the team for a nice darkhorse presence here. Flintridge Prep, the final automatic qualifier from the Southern Section, is a very good bet to move up the charts here, with its balance about as good an anyone's at this level. Freshman Hannah Vaughan has led the Rebels for most of the stretch drive. Individually, Head-Royce senior Clara Horowitz (bound for Duke) is the one all figure to be chasing, with the Oakland-area star holding many big-race triumphs to her credit, including a stunning 21st-place finish at nationals. She's been racing carefully this fall, figuring to have much octane left for the stretch run. Chadwick's Cohoon has been red hot during championship time, with her victory margin really stretching as the biggest meets draw closer. University's Kretzschmar is the third top-5 returnee from a year ago, with Oakwood's Treani Swain getting as good on the trails as she is on the track oval also shining of late.



McFarland --- Greatest "Small Schools" program in California history!

          If there's ever any division on championship weekend that truly seems like it courts a runaway favorite, it's this division. Also known as Division M-c-F-a-r-l-a-n-d.. The Central Section power has really outdone itself in 2001, raising the bar for a program that boasts a state-record eight boys championships (!) and finds itself ranked seventh nationally in this week's Harrier Magazine poll. The latest edition of Coach Jim White's amazing juggernaut program has Giovanni Perezchica and Raudel Sanchez a crew that will try blanketing the lead positions with the fabled red-and-white singlets. Oak Park dazzled along courses in the early going, with Chase Ferrell and Taylor Hermes among the reasons for their success at The Great Race of the Great Bay and Stanford, but the crew hasn't showed much "pop" in recent weeks, that despite doing what was needed to capture the Southern Section crown for a second consecutive year. Carmel, hailing from the Central Coast Section, was a very impressive performer there, with a 27-second gap separating their top four scorers (all top-5 placers in the CCS!) in stamping them as a great upset pick. Senior Carl Lostrom led the crew, with Conrad Becker also among its key contributors. Moreau Catholic made a fine showing at the North Coast Section Finals, with junior Brandon Carballo directing a deep squad that placed all five scorers in the top 10 there for the commanding victory. Fillmore placed all five scorers in a very competitive and very deep Southern Section Final, making the Flash a genuine quality squad in this type of year-end format. Juan Mejia toured the 2.91-mile Mt. SAC layout in 16:00, with four teammates then clumping together to run within 20 seconds of each other. Morro Bay enjoyed the division's finest peak, with a great senior-dominated crew hopping a series of ranked teams to place third in the Southern Section. Red-hot Bryan Rayburn led the effort yet again, but veterans Tom Turner and Colin Donohoo and sophomore Jordan Gaffney all chipped in to help seal the berth to Fresno. Big Bear had senior Art Avitia come up big at the SS Finals after a season-long injury, joining teammates Nick Deisler and Craig Hall in garnering a fourth-place finish and sending the Bears on to state. Senior Billy Nelson of Taft (Central Section) arrives as the huge favorite here, with the diminutive speed merchant toppling some of the West Coast's biggest names this fall, including piling up victories at the Stanford, Clovis and Mt. SAC Invitationals, an amazing trifecta for any athlete, regardless of division. McFarland's powerhouse crew could send several bodies up front to keep Nelson honest, with Piedmont' Crosby Freeman and Sir Francis Drake's Rory Kuykendall (fresh off a great identical-times dual at the NCS Finals) and Oak Park's Ferrell among the big names to watch down the stretch!


DIVISION V BOYS 10:10 a.m.

Woodcrest Christian -- Favorites in the Division V "Battle Royal(s)"!

          University of San Francisco comes here as the division's top-ranked team, with decorated senior Sean Drake leading the crew to the NCS crown to complement his own title effort at sectionals. This tradition-rich championship squad has been impressive all season, including a very sharp effort at the mid-season Stanford Invitational. Woodcrest Christian broke new ground by winning its first Southern Section title last weekend, holding off a fierce challenge from perennial power Flintridge Prep to pull away in the final mile for nearly a 40-point victory margin. Sophomore Grant Nunnally has been ultra-consistent thus far for Woodcrest Christian, which has also received repeated fine efforts from Dustin Andrews and Lee Bourns, among others. Flintridge Prep has had lone scoring returnee Seth Horowitz help direct an amazing rebuilding effort in a matter of months, with freshman Tom McLean also helping raise the team's stock during the course of the season. Brentwood's success has truly been a model of teamwork, with the Eagles relying on every single member of a very balanced lineup to come through in upsetting slightly more talented squads. It's this formula which keeps them a threat here, hoping to cap a dream season with yet one more inspired run! Freshman Ryan Gordon and sophomore Mark Drath led the effort in their third-place showing at sectionals. Desert Christian of Lancaster (SS) and a revived Apple Valley Christian squad are joined by Thacher all from the Southern Section as teams gearing for a final breakthrough and a trip to the awards podium. Defending individual champion Tim Nelson of Liberty Christian (won in a photo finish to edge Viewpoint's Tom Kubler in 2000) has been on a tear of late, rebounding from setback at the Mt. SAC Invitational (opting to move up and compete in the Large Schools Division) to post a string of lifetime personal bests in recent outings. Nelson, who also shined in Division I action at the Stanford Invitational, will need to be sharp to hold off Cate (SS) senior Henry Hagenbuch, 12th at regionals a years ago and fresh off his first sectional individual title. Sean Drake (University-NCS) and Dillon Wyant (South Fork-NCS) are two other marquee names to follow here, with each runner very consistent in crunch time thus far. Mammoth's Chad Galbreath has made more incremental improvements of late, looking to improve upon last year's 10th place finish at the year-end meet. Ontario Christian's Jesse Kleinjan enjoyed a nice peak last fall to place fourth here, aiming to inch further up the ladder in his final quest across Woodward Park.



Ayala and Canyon -- two mega-tough crews looking for the big title!

Marina's Anna Attard and Edison's Maryann Pynchon -- fresh off great races!


The toughest race of the day is this one right here, where a slew of powerhouse programs collide to settle Golden State (and national) bragging rights once and for all! Dana Hills, ranked 9th nationally by The Harrier Magazine this week, awoke with a vengeance at the Southern Section Finals as Emilie Branham and Co. stirred up a great clutch effort at the eleventh hour! The Dolphins captured the team title as four runners broke 19:00 at Mt. SAC, including Stephanie Eckl, Marijke ValPelt and Monika Rothenberger. Dana Hills will need to click on all seven cylinders to hold off a great crew of challengers. Thousand Oaks (second in the SS) has had a monstrous peak in recent weeks, with underclassmen Kathleen Vance (frosh) and Alyson Fletcher (soph) joining cornerstone Julie Hancock in leading the group into national rankings consideration. Esperanza, ranked as high as 8th nationally this fall, has been unbeatable when all goes well, with the balanced attack posting victory at the vaunted Mt. SAC Invitational Team Sweepstakes affair and huge efforts in Sunset League competition. Senior Shalice Pugmire has been joined by Alison Costello in recent weeks, with frosh star Joy Wilk and senior Stephanie Marton also stepping up well at various points this season. Buchanan, which uses this layout as its home course, lost a heartbreaker to Peninsula in last year's Division I affair, with Karis Wilson, Jessica Laslovich and Valeria Delgado among a Who's Who group that returns to settle unfinished business. Peninsula, a group with an emotional angle to contend with as coaching legend Joe Kelly arrives at Woodward for a final time (retiring after a sensational run), aims to successfully defend its team title with All-American candidate Emily Vince steamrolling to victory at the Southern Section Finals and battle-tested veterans Tina Downey and Tracy Bassett also among those in the fold. Two teams that were loaded with talent from the get-go have weathered a long season with great success, as Ayala (paced by sophomore sensation Whitney Patton) and Canyon of Canyon Country (with Brenda Stevens emerging as the race-day leader recently) now aim for monumental "step-up" efforts in this wide-open affair. Individually, it has been Ukiah's Amber Trotter that has deservedly grabbed the headlines this fall, with the latest Santa Rosa area star (joining graduated "legends" Julia Stamps and Sara Bei, among others) smashing course records left and right to emerge as the lead contender for the national title in Florida next month. Trotter stormed to victory in 16:55 here last month, then bettered that outing with a mind-boggling 16:17 course record at Mt. SAC weeks later! Peninsula's Vince and Canyon's Stevens are among the lead challengers at this point, but the Sunset League (SS) triumvirate of Anna Attard (Marina), Bethany Nickless (Fountain Valley) and Maryann Pynchon (Edison) also arrive here on a hot streak. Rachel Bryan of Laguna Creek might be even hotter, however, with the Sac-Joaquin Section champion downing talented runner-up Laura Muller of Woodland by 11 seconds in the regional outing. From down south, the nod goes to Lindsay delaMontaigne of Rancho Bernardo, who has come through twice to upset Torrey Pines' Dani Schuster in San Diego Section action recent weeks. Heather Hansen of Madera, mega-tough when the major challenges occur, is more quality representation for the Central Section!


Rubidoux's boys -- raising a great tradition to even higher levels.


          Rubidoux's boys moved into this division in mid-season, leaving a once wide-open division with the task of having to chase this group down now. Much easier said than done! Rubidoux's success has hinged on the contributions of multiple talent sources, with Antonio Jimenez fully recuperating from injury to lead the group to a huge 68-point victory margin at the Southern Section championships. Seniors Jose Lopez and Lino Flores also answered the call once more, flanking teammate Mobin Ghoury for a blanket finish! The team with the best shot of catching the favorites is Eureka, a well-hidden program with an enclave of top-notch runners in recent years. Eureka has an amazing 1-2 on call, with seniors Shaun Lyle (a man amongst boys when at his best) and Dale Kitt powering the Loggers to considerable postseason success during their years. Katella was the Southern Section's most improved squad here in 2001, with Juan Escalante's recent tear and Francisco Flores' improvement fueling the Knights to the kind of success they've been well accustomed to over the last decade. Sac-Joaquin Section titlist Del Campo (Fair Oaks) edged out Woodcreek (led by Calvin Glass and Matt Johnsrud) for top honors, with Tom Getchall's 10-second victory and nice backup from and Dan Guidera and Chris Hart aiding their bid to continue fine tradition at the year-end meets. Hoover of San Diego might be the sentimental choice here, a surprise qualifier to Fresno a year ago and now back after a dominating performance at the San Diego Section Championships last week! Solomon Kumbi has been the team leader, with Hasan Haji among the key performers in their title-winning effort. Orange flashed an eye-opening peak at the Southern Section Finals, with its up-and-down campaign receiving a huge exclamation point after challenging Katella for runner-up honors! Sophomore Raul Lara resurfaced to familiar form in heading the showing, sealed by great depth at the scoring positions. Sultana, with senior Dan Lyon gonig gangbusters in rallying the squad to success over the latter half of the season, and Valencia (Placentia), led by super junior Juan Robles, are two sensational Southern Section programs lurking in the shadows. In terms of individual talent, this collection is consider the best of the day! National-title contender Yong-Sung Leal (Arroyo-NCS) is unbeaten thus far, with a huge 14:40's effort at the Mt. SAC Invitational being the centerpiece to a fine season loaded with promise. Longtime rival Carl Dambkowski of Granada (Livermore, NCS) is another top-tier entry, having had success in upending Leal on occasion over the years a claim very few can make and priming himself for a breakthrough at the regional level. The aforementioned Robles of Valencia finally began curling back on the workload in recent days after a burdensome training regimen over the months, with the move resulting in a nice breakthrough at the sectional level. By firsthand accounts, it appears much upside remains this weekend. Don Bosco Tech's Mark Batres, who deserves much praise for making his fourth state-meet appearance, is another very talented individual to watch. Woodbridge's Michael Haddan has proven to be the Golden State's premier sophomore thus far in 2001 (especially after the first-ever sub-15:00 clocking by a 10th grader at Mt. SAC last week: 14:54), with the mega-talent getting a stern challenge for grade honors today as San Diego phenoms Troy Swier of Mar Vista and Babey Wagnew of Helix are also in the mix. Wagnew held the edge of Haddan last year, but the Woodbridge star has come out front in 2001. On the same token, Wagnew held an edge over Swier during four years of matchups (dating back to the seventh grade), but the Mar Vista gem had the upper hand last time out. Should be a great one! Who knows -- they could end up fighting their way into the top spot!



The Campolindo crew has been tough to top!

          Campolindo's grouping has been tough for rivals to overcame during the campaign, with one "C"-adorned singlet after another finding its way to the find up the pack by race's end. The story was much the same at the North Coast Section Finals, where the crew's depth led by Katina Hubbard and Mimi Yuhas claimed victory over a talent-charged starting lineup. Two teams very capable of earning the top spot here, however, are Clovis East (in just two years existence and already a statewide power!) and San Lorenzo Valley (with great success at this level over the years. Clovis East (Didi Chan, Ashley Hoyt and Ashley Nelson leading the crew) was just eight points behind Campolindo in their clash at the Mt. Sac Invitational after shining at the Stanford Invitational two weeks prior. SLV can peak with the best of them, with Hillary Schwarzbach, Ellen Beebe and Raquel Barrientos among a seemingly endless well of talent on hand! St. Francis (led by Tori Tyler) and Harbor (with Lauren Christman and Ashley Watkins up front) are two other powerhouse programs pushing the envelope on San Lorenzo Valley in the Central Coast Section wars of late. University City arrives here as San Diego Section champions, with high-end talents Jessica Ooms and Rebecca Bostwick leading the darlings from down South! La Canada released the reins just in time as their fine effort at the Southern Section Finals registered as a mild upset for a roster (including Emily Farr and Carina Garnic) oozing with big-meet experience! The individual clash here should be a titanic one, with San Dieguito Academy's Jenna Timinsky and Corona del Mar's Julie Allen already splitting their two showdowns this season. Allen, the Southern Section titlist in 17:41 (but 17:12 on the same course the week before), won their clash at Stanford. Timinsky (signing recently with UCLA), who won in a Section Finals course record 15:37 for 2.7 miles, claimed the rematch at Mt. SAC three weeks later! Melissa Grelli of Presentation has been one of the state's breakthrough performers thus far, including a huge victory over all-state candidates Michelle Gallagher and Shannon Rowbury of Sacred Heart Cathedral (with a slew up wins up North to their credit) at the Central Coast Section Championships. Defending state champion Lindsay Owen of Nordhoff was sidelined for the season by injury earlier this month.


DIVISION I BOYS 12:20 p.m.

All-American senior Brett Gotcher of Aptos HS

          The U.S. title could be on the line here as #2-ranked nationally Canyon of Canyon Country courts the best Southland trio in history to bank its hopes on in seeking the "Major Division" title. Luke Llamas, who has turned the corner to become a Foot Locker nationals candidate this fall, has been the leader, but Jameson Mora and Ryan Morgan are two awesome talents very close in his rear-view mirror thus far. A third-place showing at the prestigious Great American Cross Country Festival (September), victory at the Mt. Sac Invitational (October) and the fastest team-time ever on a Mt. SAC hill course (76:59 last week) has the Cowboys looking downright incredible down the stretch. Their big key of late has been the emergence of #4 runner Troy Werner, offering the crew the depth to help cover any weaknesses. Long Beach Poly, the defending champion here, is always a threat, with the Jackrabbits (ranked 21st nationally) aiming to overcome a series of minor setbacks that become magnified at this stage of the game. Poly holds great depth, so any collective revival of top efforts by Kevin Brulois, Bryan Durham and Co. means Canyon could have company. Jesuit, which has flashed isolated signs of sensational upside since the summer, has been plagued by injury at the worst time, with the crew needing all runners present if they are to seriously challenge. With John Wihtol out of the lineup, Nick DeFelice, Steve Vargas and vastly improved Austin Ramos from this #14th-ranked nationally group will have a very tough time adding to a storied tradition. The real wild-card here could be Dana Hills, which has great depth and interchanges often in its lineup. When two three kids are "off", three other fill in. If and when all seven click, it could be a sight to behold! In an 18-team battle however, it seems such depth might not be enough to catch Canyon at this point. Junior Tyler Kastorff (sixth here last year) is battling back from sickness to aid the Dolphins, who also count on Tommy Jordan, Damian Hall and newcomers Campbell McDonald and Taylor White for awesome depth! Mt. Carmel will be rambling in from the South, with frontrunners Abadir Barre and Alan Aradanas very eager to make amends for a sub-par Mt. SAC Invitational showing. The crew has great tradition and is coming off a fine effort in winning the crown at the SDS Finals. Clovis West has shown healthy improvement throughout the season, with All-American candidate Kevin Davis having a dream season after hitting a groove in midseason. Kent Polkinghorne, despite recent injury, is another key performer fueling their success thus far. Madera has been a model of consistency this fall, with seniors Chris Britton (seventh here last year) and Michael Barrera battling to help the unit in a weekly tug-of-war with Clovis West. Royal, with a great trio of Tim Hearst, Charlie Serrano and Travis Patterson also looks good in this 18-team field. The leaders should rocket through the mile in fine pace here, with Aptos senior Brett Gotcher (22nd at nationals and fifth here last year) ranking as the top returnee. Gotcher, who sizzled to a 29:58 clocking for six miles in the summer, already has posted huge efforts at Great American (fourth), Stanford (1st) and Clovis (2nd) all featuring national-class runners. Davis of Clovis West and Llamas of Canyon figure to be prime challengers, but Buchanan senior Casey Burchill has made a career of big-race efforts, with the seasoned leader joined by talented darkhorse entry and teammate Kyle Alcorn here. Don Lugo's Erick Maldonado and Etiwanda's Michael Poe two summertime training mates from the Southern Section are other very notable entries.




Sultana's super pack!

          On paper, this figures to be a three-team battle between national-class programs from Montgomery (ranked 16th), Maria Carrillo (formerly ranked in the Top 25) and Woodbridge (a team on the verge of the Top 25). Montgomery, which peaked beyond belief to claim the title last year as Sara Bei and Co. stole the show! Bei and the coach are gone, but the rest of the crew is back, with Kim Conley and Christy Sweaney helping in their frequent North Bay League clashes with Maria Carrillo, a very explosive team with senior leader Jenny Aldridge (bound for Arizona State) and frosh phenom Amy Robinson leading their successful efforts. Montgomery edged Maria Carrillo for the section title after MCHS earned the upper hand in their dual meet and league finals affairs. Woodbrudge continues to pound away on Southland competitionm with the Jenny Sears-led Warriors once again showing best at championship time. Kristen Berglas and Meghan Bellotti are the longtime mainstays of the program, which peaks as well as any! Centennial of Bakersfield has been the class of the Central Section at this level in recent years, with all-star pacesetter Brittany Grimes and sibling Brooklan and senior Lindi Bedke leading a near sweep at their finals. San Pasqual put on a clinic at the San Diego Section Finals, with section titlist Claire Rethmeier, runner-up Lorin Scott and Brooke Kerby sweeping the top three for a crew that scored 21 points to win! Depth is the key to their success, with their remaining four team members very well capable of collaring opponents at the tail end of the lead pack. Granite Bay was a terror early on, with the Caitlin Chock-led crew resting up since in preparation for the season-ending wars while Kelsey dela Gardelle-led Sultana is another group (Stacy Tabuena and Kelsey Camara are other frontrunners) with great upside potential thanks to pack running. Talent galore should adorn the front pack in this race, with the favored Aldridge really shifting into another gear down the stretch, with Gunn's Ruth Graham also smoking the courses over the last month to be a viable contender. Chock, Grimes and Robinson are expected to also be among the lead group, with frosh standout McKayla Plank also favored to continue her stellar campaign.


           Barstow has been at the apex of the Division III ladder of supremacy throughout the campaign, with its depth-fortified roster developing along to become a dangerous pack of frontrunners! Kalan Ray, J.D. Tawney and Adam Rodriguez continued their reign of "trails terror" last week with a resounding Southern Section Finals triumph, setting the stage for a state-meet crown. Among the squads figuring to check in and offer up an objection is Valley Center of San Diego, with the area titlists sporting their own talented trio in Cooper Bachman, Ryan Skerl and Gus Polito. VC has fought injuries all season, but is now healthy and primed to fulfill their season-long goal. The one squad to make a dramatic improvement on the scene in recent weeks is Rim of the World, a mountain-based program that came down to sea level and laid notice they are a top-tier team. Jason Bruton and Raron Jarvis have been hot of late, but the entire squad has been on an upswing! St. Ignatius looks to add to its fine tradition, and shoudl do so with Bryan Lorentz, Carter Phelps and Aaron Bush among the names looming large for a squad seeking a trip to the podium! La Jolla was a somewhat surprising runner-up in the San Diego region, with Paul Coover leading an otherwise well-grouped bunch that shined to close in on Valley Center. San Luis Obispo (with Ben Abbott, Willie Jones and Dan Nunn all clicking) and Estancia (section winner Humberto Rojas, 15:25 at Mt. SAC, and Mike Casillas) are a pair of Southern Section programs will loads of talent on call. Individually, look for San Lorenzo Valley's Alex Dunn and Saratoga's Will Kraemer to renew their Northern California debate for area bragging rights, with the trios from Barstow and Valley Center also in their vicinity. Kenny Frank of Enterprise, a solid performer each time the gun goes off, Anthony DeRouen of Yucca Valley and frosh Jake Schmitt of Redwood are other fine notable talents.