Freshman girls set a torrid pace at the CCS meet

Mercury News

Whether they build on their success or never reach it again, a few talented young girls showed that the future might have nothing on the present.

Freshmen won three of the five girls divisions at the Central Coast Section cross-country championships Saturday at Crystal Springs with performances that were noteworthy regardless of age.

Out of 473 girls, freshmen ran four of the five fastest times. Of those, Valley Christian's Jen Bergmann and St. Ignatius' Katy Daly recorded the fifth- and sixth-fastest ever by freshmen on the 2.95-mile course used since 1971.

Bergmann won the Division IV race in 17 minutes, 53 seconds -- the day's fastest -- after Daly ran 17:57 in Division III. Hayley Pascale of Carlmont won Division I in 18:17, and Stephanie Barnett of Leland (18:13) was second in Division II.

All but Daly ran for Willie Harmatz and Roger Adams with the Los Gatos Athletic Association club during middle school.

``I tell the parents that if the kids can't stay with the group or at least in the back, they should quit,'' Harmatz said. ``Bergmann has improved the most by far. When she first came, she was barely hanging on.''

On the team side, Half Moon Bay broke San Lorenzo Valley's six-year run of titles with a 39-46 victory in Division IV, making it a bittersweet day for SLV Coach Rob Collins, whose boys team captured its first section championship.

``I think we've been overachieving this year, after losing eight girls from last year's team,'' Collins said. ``But it hurts. It actually hurts a lot.''

Aptos had the fastest team time and the fourth-fastest in course history, paced by Jessica Van Ausdall (17:59), and won its fourth consecutive title, in Division II.

Top-ranked Monta Vista, however, is still looking for its first, finishing as the runner-up in Division I for the third year in a row. ``We all ran very nervous, and that's the coach's fault,'' said Coach Mike Morris, who is stepping down after this, his ninth, season. ``It's probably the most painful day I've had coaching.''

In contrast, Carlmont swept the Division I boys and girls races for the first time in school history.

``This will bring a lot of prestige to our program,'' said Greg Surh, who was a freshman when Drew and Kyle Shackleton led the Scots to a CCS crown two years ago. ``We used to be defined by the Shackleton twins. Now, we have a chance to define our program by the team as a whole.''

For the second year in a row, Ben Sitler ran the fastest time of the day, a 15:03 that pushed St. Francis to the Division III championship. Sitler broke to a 4:35 first mile and ran comfortably to a 27-second victory. He is the favorite to win the state championship, Nov. 26 in Fresno.

``CCS is more about the teams,'' Sitler said. ``But state, for me at least, is the big goal. No one from our school has ever won a state title. I'm trying to reverse that.''

Matthew Petrillo of Los Gatos was even more dominant, winning the Division II race (15:04) by 35 seconds and leading the Wildcats to their first title since 2000.