All-American performance for Petrillo at the nationals
By Dick Sparrer
When Matthew Petrillo finished his freshman season at Los Gatos High School by running fourth in the Central Coast Section Division II finals, it appeared to be a solid finish that brought an outstanding cross country season to an end.

At least, that's how it appeared.

Oh, it was a solid finish all right. And he did have an outstanding cross country. It's just that it wasn't really the end.

Petrillo returned to the trails to compete for the Los Gatos Athletic Association Track Club, and he ended up winning All-American honors at the Junior Olympic national finals held in Albuquerque, N.M.

Petrillo, competing in the youth boys (ages 13­14) division, was one of three All-Americans from the Los Gatos Athletic Association Track Club. Jessica Rux and Hayley Pascale won similar honors as competitors in the midget girls (11­12) division.

In all, Los Gatos—led by coaches Monica Townsend and Willie Harmatz—took three teams to the nationals. The midget girls finished second in the nation with the youth boys seventh and the youth girls 17th.

The midget girls won team All-American honors by placing in the top three in the nation. Joining Rux and Pascale on the squad were Katie Nast of Redwood Middle School in Saratoga, Amanda Speedy of Redwood, Jennifer Bergman, Courtney Albini and Stephanie Petrillo of Fisher Middle School in Los Gatos.

Individuals had to finish in the top 25 in their age group to pick up All-American spots. Rux was seventh and Pascale was 12th in the midget girls race, and Petrillo was 20th in the youth boys division.

"The team had a bad start, but Matthew kept coming up the whole race," said Harmatz of Petrillo, the No. 1 runner on the Gatos varsity team last fall and the top freshman finisher in CCS. "His build-up was great, and his mental toughness was tested to the maximum. But he always comes through when he's tested."

Petrillo led the Los Gatos youth boys team to a seventh-place finish in the national finals. Rounding out the Gatos squad were Rye Livingston, Dane Sawyer and Michael Johnson of CT English, Kai Hayashi and Matt Snee of Los Gatos High, Michael Beam of Redwood and Jerry MacCallister.

Rux and Pascale led the midget girls to the team second with Nast a close third for the squad. Nast, fifth in the 3,000 meters at the track nationals last spring, was a county champion for Redwood in the fall.

"This was a fantastic team with four county champions on it, and a team with a lot of heart, drive, motivation and ability," said Harmatz. "The girls were a pleasure to work with. They inspired each other to form a team that strived for excellence, a team we all will never forget."

Los Gatos also finished 17th in the youth girls division with Morgan Ceyala, Katrin Cooper of Redwood, Taylor Johnson, Michelle Sparks of St. Andrews in Saratoga, Lauren Radonich of CT English and Jennifer Collins competing for the local club. Kaela Townsend (illness) and Kelly Carlquist (injury) had to sit out the meet.

Joining Townsend and Harmatz on the coaching staff were Roger Adams and Liz Nast of Saratoga, Tom Newman of Los Gatos, Joe Rodriguez and Kenrick Sealy.

The team, made up of all-star runners from throughout the Bay Area, was sponsored by the Los Gatos Lions Club, Athletic Performance, and the Los Gatos Athletic Association.

"The team consisted of runners from over 13 different schools," said Harmatz. "The ones that lived in the area, we trained them. If they lived out of the area, they would follow their own training program or follow ours. We came together at qualifying meets in Reno, then Fresno. We either won or placed in the top three to qualify for the nationals."