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CIF-State Cross-Country
Championships Preview

Due to space constraints, we have been notified by the
CIF-State office that not all the preview will appear in
the official meet program. Below is an early version of
the preview, but we are
not sure which version will make
it to print. The version on Saturday will differ slightly.




Record-breaking Ventura girls, near-perfect
Royal boys headline 2004 State Championships
**2004 CIF-State Cross-Country Championships Preview**
Saturday, November 27, 2004 @ Woodward Park in Fresno (5k)

Photo collage courtesy of Bill Leung
Putting forth a performance for the ages, the super crew from Ventura High smashed the Mt. SAC record!

By Richard Gonzalez- Editor, DyeStatCal.com
        Following two months of summertime training and up to 12 weekends of spirited and friendship-building competitions, we arrive here in Fresno for what is regarded by prep running aficionados as the pinnacle event on the nationwide seasonal calendar… we welcome you to the 18th annual CIF-State Cross-Country Championships!

       Champions will crowned in five divisional classifications per gender this weekend, each stamping an exclamation point on teamwide excellence and individual sacrifices over the preceding months. Several of America’s finest student-athletes are ready to converge on Woodward Park’s storied 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) course, each seeking to carve out personal bests and their own treasured memories. Here are some of the storylines to look for:

       As has been the case in recent years, the girls claim center stage on the statewide landscape thanks to a vast collection of quality teams – with this group considered as perhaps the deepest in Golden State history! Southern Section champion Ventura spearheads the Division I lineup, with the defending state champion Cougars stunning the onlookers in destroying the team-time record (cumulative time for its five scoring runners) on the famed Mt. San Antonio College course last weekend. Ventura’s 79-point margin of victory over a field boasting a pair of nationally ranked squads came during a 90:44 team-time run (18:09 average per scorer), shaving more than a minute off the previous all-time standard. Junior Emily Spiker (4th in 17:47) and sophomore Molly Bailey (6th in 17:52) led their section-winning performance, with siblings Tara and Jessica Bryant, Laura Mason, Edna Solano and Lauren Ricketts comprising what now appears as perhaps the finest West Coast unit ever!

       Fountain Valley, one of the nationally ranked squads left in the wake of Ventura’s full-throttle showing, was the runner-up placer in the Southern Section Finals, with junior Crystal Reed and freshmen Elizabeth Coe and Nicole Giove helping author a storybook season for the Orange County champions, who have made a major breakthrough this fall. Southern Section squads project to dominate this division yet again, with late-blooming Thousand Oaks (featuring junior ace Lynne Fletcher), very powerful and consistent Murrieta Valley (Liana Boucher leading the winners of the prestigious Stanford and Mt. SAC invites) and vastly improved Royal (with Brianna Smith as its frontrunner) also heading the late-season charge. The quest for individual honors points toward an anticipated showdown between Central Section champion Lauren Saylor of Buchanan and Southern Section winner Alma Escobar of Corona. Saylor toured this Woodward Park course in 17:40 last month to become the second-fastest California 10th-grader here over the last decade, trailing only former national champion Sara Bei’s 17:22 run in 1998. Escobar posted perhaps a comparatively superior effort during her 17:25 Mt. SAC run last weekend, with Peninsula’s Brittney Morreale (17:35 at Mt. SAC), Folsom’s Natasha LaBeaud (the top returnee after placing third in state Division I last November), and Birmingham’s Emmaline Hartel (L.A. City Section champion) rounding out the lead entrants.

       The Division II girls’ race tilts toward the northern end of the state in the outlook for the top spot, with North Coast Section winner College Park and Sac Joaquin Section champion Vacaville heading the charge. College Park, decimated by injuries in the early going, has rebounded with a vengeance to defend its state crown, with frosh Eugenie Foote making her first varsity-level win a stunning section-title winning individual shocker to join Nicole Pennes and Kelsey Dallara in comprising a very talented triumvirate. Vacaville, paced by junior Cecily Lemmon, has traveled up and down the state this fall en route to multiple big-race showings (including a best-of-division showing at the Mt. SAC Invitational). The Southland contingent is headed by Southern Section champion Mater Dei, with frontrunner Samantha Constantini keying the Monarchs’ thrilling five-point win over Brea Olinda (senior Anne Gustafson leading the Wildcats). Previously top-ranked West Torrance and Edison of Huntington Beach also are in the mix. Individually, the hot new talent on the scene is Serrano HS freshman Kauren Tarver, whose 17:06 clocking in winning the Southern Section divisional final eclipsed the previous Mt. SAC course record set by former All-American Liza Pasciuto of Murrieta Valley). Tarver won by 49 seconds over super talent Whitney Blue of Newport Harbor. Tarver, however, might find herself battling fiercely with Gunn senior Tori Tyler, whose early-season clockings on well-established course signaled her as among the premier talents in the nation. College Park’s Pennes, Dallara and Foote also project to be near the front.

       Our Division III scene appears heavily weighted toward the North Coast Section, with area champion Maria Carrillo of Santa Rosa continuing its superb tradition in the sport with a dominating show last weekend, steering several minutes ahead of its prime competition. The aptly named Pumas have been on the prowl all season, with a sensational victory at the early-season Woodbridge Invitational also to its credit. Super talent Amy Robinson, Leanne Fogg and Kristen Sanzari pace Maria Carrillo, which topped rivals Jenny Bergren-led and defending state champion Miramonte and super-deep Campolindo at sectionals. Corona del Mar was the commanding winner in the Southern Section, with junior Anne St. Geme leading very talented roster that bettered fast-rising Rim of the World and Oak Park squads in state-qualifying action. Two-time state 1600-meter track champion Alicia Follmar of Saratoga won this race a year ago, but the list of rivals this time out appears ready to issue a stern challenge. St. Geme, North Coast Section winner Mo Huber of Acalanes, St. Ignatius talent and UCLA-signed Ciara Viehweg, Bergren and Harvard-Westlake’s Anna Farias-Eisner (18:10 at Mt. SAC) are among the prime combatants.

       Bishop O'Dowd came seemingly out of nowhere to just hmmer the course at the North Coast Section Finals and stampo itself as the very heavy 11th-hour favorite in Division IV, with its best-of-meet, low-92-minute clocking at Hayward High being worthy of national recognition! Ariel Wright and Alexi Pappas jump-start the   B-O-D engine which aism to rev into victory lane. Central Section superpowers San Lorenzo Valley and Half Moon Bay square off for the rubber match in their season series, with the latter emerging as the section champion while the former posted an eye-popping divisional win at the mid-season Mt. SAC Invitational. The SLV lineup constantly interchanges as a credit to its fine depth (frosh Taylor Johnson’s runner-up placing at the CCS Finals led last time out), with HMB crossing its fingers for the return of frontrunner Liza Hitchner (recent strained Achilles) to join Aly Millett in orchestrating its upside. Riverbank, which peaked magnificently with six sophomores to place third at state last season, is a very dangerous title threat as Maritza Garcia and Bianca Melchor figure into the team’s fortunes. Jacqueline Turner-led Orange Lutheran heads the charge from the south, with the crew racking up a nice 33-point win against a tough Division IV field in Southern Section action. Defending state champion Amanda Moreno of Escalon represents the Sac Joaquin Section very well here, with Santa Ana Calvary Chapel’s Jennifer Bowles, Laguna Beach’s Alex Crawley, Orange Lutheran’s Turner, and The Bishop’s School’s Robin Kuntz (San Diego Section champion) rounding out a super entry field!

        There’s a three-team Southern Section-dominated dance heading the Division V seasonal celebration thus far, but perennial power University of San Francisco from the North Coast Section aims to crash the party this weekend. SS winner Maranatha picked up the pace over the final mile to win (49-75-89 over area rivals Flintridge Prep and Woodcrest Christian, respectively) last weekend, with Rachel Gill and Rebecca Cassou placing 2-3 to key the win. Flintridge Prep, the preseason state favorite, and Woodcrest Christian, the surprise winner at the Mt. SAC Invitational, both remain within reach of the top spot. Defending state champion Tani Brown of Brentwood, fresh off a narrow one-second victory over the aforementioned Maranatha duo, remains the slight favorite, with North Coast Section team champion University’s Andrea Imhof also expected to be at the front.

Photo courtesy of Erik Pedersen
Royal High, wearing vintage uniforms above in winning the Ventura County Championships, have
been among the finest teams in America thus far, with senior Dylan Jaedtke (#1147) pacing the crew.

             Boys action today is highlighted by a monstrous Division I showdown involving several of the premier programs in the nation, with Southern Section champion Royal aiming to close out a dream season in which it has yet to be defeated while fielding its full roster. The Highlanders, currently ranked fifth in the nation by The Harrier Magazine, are headed by senior star Dylan Jaedtke, but it is amazing depth which truly has separated the crew from all others thus far. Sophomores Hudson Andrews and Michael Cybulski, arguably the finest sophomore duo in America this fall, team with Jason Pedersen and Danny Benson to provide a lethal scoring quintet, with Matt Gulden and Dustin Patterson helping round out one of the finer lineups in Golden State history! Dana Hills, the longtime Southern Section power hailing from Orange County, has taken tremendous strides in the final month of the season to emerge as the top threat to Royal. Seniors Scott Smith and Darron Grimes lead the Dolphins, who finished a mere 12 points out of the top spot at last weekend's sectionals. Madera, the only team to defeat Royal this year (coming on an SAT testing day which left that team without its top runner) has been outstanding since returning one of its own key runners from a freak non-running related injury in midseason. Madera, the Central Section champions over a fine Clovis squad, are led by Benny Madrigal and Claudio Moreno. Murrieta Valley, with mega-improved junior Patrick Milloy, edged Don Lugo for third in the SS Finals after applying the 6th-runner tiebreaker rule, with the Conquistadores seeking spirited revenge behind the leadership of senior Fitsum Tesfa and junior Alfred Gonzales. Stephen Trupiano-led Rancho Cucamonga, which came on shockingly well during section qualifying, is a very dangerous darkhorse as well. Individually, UC Berkeley signed senior Yosef Ghebray of James Logan returns to defend his crown, with the savvy racer storming to a runaway victory at the North Coast Section Finals as testament to his readiness for another championship peak. From the deep south, El Camino junior A.J. Acosta has posted some mind-boggling times on tough courses this season before slamming down a nice San Diego Section title-winning effort on the famed Balboa Park course last Satufday. Don Lugo's Tesfa won the Stanford Invitational before claiming the SS crown, with El Toro senior All-American candidate Brandon Bethke (14:30 at Mt. SAC, third-fastest in course history), West Covina's Diego Mercado, ultra-clutch Ventura County champion Ted Price of Camarillo and highly-promising junior Scott Harris of Los Osos also figuring in the championship fray.

         Our Division II competition should evolve into a wide-open thriller, with Central Coast Section champion North Monterey County welcoming back all-region super talent Nathan Huerta to join frontrunner Keli Parker in recent weeks, with the powerful Condors now well equipped to challenge for the top step on the podium. Los Angeles-based Loyola rode a sensational peak at the Southern Section Finals to move very close to the top spot in the statewide rankings. The Cubs, the 2002 CIF-State Division I champions, are headlined by a pair of sensational UC Berkeley-signed harriers in All-American talent and defending individual champion Mark Matusak and key teammate Matt Miller. Jesuit, which has ruled the Sac Joaquin Section for well over a decade come championship time, has another excellent crew under the tutelage of legendary coach Walt Lange, with the section champion Marauders riding a great interchanging lineup that includes senior Dillon Ramos, junior Jake Kelly-Strong and sophomore Evan Watchempino. St. John Bosco, the defending champions and preseason pick to win it all again, has Randy Skillens and Kevin Urak steering its championship efforts while Southern Section power West Torrance hinges its changes on the frontrunning talents of rising star Jonathan Yi. Valencia of Placentia (paced by Roman Pena) and eye-popping peaker Westlake (with sophomore Corey Primm setting the table) are two very dangerous darkhorse entries from the Southern Section. Matusak gets the nod to win the title for a second consecutive year, with Southern Section runner-up Joe Gatel of Huntington Beach Edison (1:52/4:13 leg speed in track) and San Diego Section standouts Riley Booker of University City and Kyle Bruser of Patrick Henry HS also courting championship aspirations.

         The Division III team contest centers around a tremendous team battle involving a series of high-quality entries from the North Coast and Southern Sections. Campolindo, Miramonte and Maria Carrillo from the northend end of the state will continue their regional jockeying for supremacy, while Lompoc Cabrillo, Servite and Barstow undertake the same scenario on the southern end of the state. Campolindo, led by sensational and steady junior Chris Vizcaino and senior star Devon Flynnperault, is aiming to get the final upper hand on DFAL foe Miramonte (with seniors Daryl Zalan and David Penskar keying their team showings), although Maria Carrillo's meet-day arsenal is built around senior leader Alex Wolf-Root and the "Fab Four" 11th-grade contingent of Michael Brew, Diego Moulton, Ryan Aldridge and Logan Ensign. The best junior-class tandem in the state belongs to Southern Section team champion Cabrillo, with Michael Coe and Colin Hacker igniting a potent squad picking up steam up late. Servite, which has Nick Mosey and Peter Robie serving as the nucleus of its fine roster, and an overhauled by vastly improved Barstow corp (Sam Melton has been the team's steadying force up front) also appear with fine chances in the team-title picture. Individually, North Coast Section champion Jake Schmitt of Redwood (and the winner of the divisional race at the Mt. SAC Invitational). Mosey (the Southern Section Finals winner) and Coe (the top returning junior in the state from last year's FootLocker West Regionals) arrive here with the most gleaming credentials, although Campolindo's Vizcaino and Placer's Kenny Parnow are two excellent picks in trying to prognosticate those first to the chute.

         Our Division IV boys’ race should be a breathtaking multi-team affair, with defending state champion Carmel (headed by individual title threat Dylan Fitzpatrick) courting a slight edge over North Coast Section winner Moreau Catholic (led by Tony Quintana), Central Section power McFarland (with Tony Rojas and Baltazar Topete at its nucleus) and Southern Section rivals Orange Lutheran and Laguna Beach (Lutheran gained a two-point decision over Laguna Beach at Southern Sectionals). Bishop O’Dowd’s Ben Gutierrez, the favored Fitzpatrick from Carmel, Big Bear’s Chad Hall, Carpinteria’s Joaquin Gomez, and Parlier’s Erick Garcia all project to comprise the lead pack.

         Southland showdowns have been thrilling in boys’ Division V action this fall, with state-favored Flintridge Prep avenging a mid-season setback to rebound and win the hotly contested Southern Section affair last weekend. The Rebels, paced by all-state senior Tom McLean, had plenty of company, however. Runner-up Woodcrest Christian (headed by Tim Burdett), third-placer Santa Clara (with junior Miguel Cisneros leading a very tight four-person attack), and Maranatha (with Tony Hilling and J.J. Timphony providing a fine 1-2 punch for the Minutemen) all finishing within 24 points of the top spot. Webb’s Greg Burris (SS champion) is the odds-on favorite to claim individual honors, with Brentwood’s Ryan Gordon, Etna’s Andrew Pierce (Northern Section), Hilling and Burdett all capable of dipping into the sub-16:00 range on the 5k layout today.

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