Posted on Sun, Nov. 30, 2003 story:PUB_DESC
Saratoga's Follmar slips past CCS rival to win Div. III race

Mercury News

Saratoga's Alicia Follmar was worried. The last time she saw the back of Melissa Grelli's blue singlet during the race Saturday, the Presentation senior widened the gap between them.

But this time Follmar, a junior, gritted her teeth and pushed forward, pulling even with Grelli. Soon after, Follmar was the first to cross the finish line and was crowned the Division III girls state cross-country champion.

``Going in, I decided I was going to go with her,'' said Follmar, who covered the five-kilometer course at Woodward Park in 17:40 on Saturday.

Grelli, who came in at 17:47, defeated Follmar by 18 seconds a week ago at the Central Coast Section championships. And when Grelli had a 10-yard lead on Follmar halfway through the race, it appeared that scenario would repeat.

``I was nervous when she was ahead of me,'' Follmar said. ``Last week, I couldn't catch up to her.''

But the relatively flat course allowed Follmar, the defending state champion in the 1,600 meters, to exploit her speed and reel in Grelli with a mile to go. With 400 meters to go, Follmar left Grelli behind.

``I tried to push the pace,'' said Grelli, who will run at Georgetown next year. ``I'm used to a little more hills.''

St. Ignatius junior Clara Vieweg finished three places behind Grelli, in 18:10. Sacred Heart Cathedral senior Francesca Cannata-Bowman was 19th in 19:04.

Even without having any individual finish higher than 38th, San Lorenzo Valley was second in the Division IV team competition. Junior Kelli Deane (38th, 19:53) led a pack of five Cougars scorers separated by only 32 seconds.

Their collective time of 1:40:31 could have been significantly better had junior Stephanie Hamilton not suffered an asthma attack during the race. Hamilton won the CCS individual title last week. The Cougars' fourth runner, junior Emily Romo, also had problems breathing because of the dust that rose from the course.

Sophomore Tomi Amos of Castilleja (19:20) was third in Division V, leading her team to fifth place. Junior Jo Welch of Redwood Christian (19:43) was fifth in the same race.

Milpitas senior Marie Nguyen (18:36) was 20th in Division I. Junior Tori Tyler of Gunn (18:38) was 21st in Division II.