San Jose Mercury News - Willow Glen runner looks strong at Stanford

Willow Glen's Mohamed Abdalla finished second in the seeded race of the Stanford Invitational cross-country meet Saturday and provided a glimpse of his potential. Abdalla, the defending state champion in Division III, might be even faster this year, Coach Victor Santamaria said.

"He's in the best shape," Santamaria said. "The race today really wasn't indicative of what he can do."

Abdalla was tucked in a pack at three-quarters of a mile, when Riverbank's German Fernandez surged and Abdalla didn't answer. Abdalla planned on making a charge over the second half of the 3.1-mile race at Stanford Golf Course, but Fernandez had bolted to such a large early lead that Abdalla was left running by himself.

"He was ready to run a strong race," Santamaria said. "But he was a little too patient and let him get away."

Still, Abdalla's time of 15 minutes, 22 seconds (about a 4:57 mile) was second among 1,320 runners in six boys races. Fernandez, the state runner-up in Division IV last year, ran 14:42.

Palo Alto sophomore Philip MacQuitty was second in Division II. His 15:41 was the 16th-fastest of the day and seven seconds off winner Bryan Tibaduiza of Reno's Galena High. Los Gatos was third as a team.

Among the girls, Leland junior Stephanie Barnett was eighth in the seeded race and ninth overall with a time of 18:16. She was the fastest of the day from the Central Coast Section.

Valley Christian junior Jennifer Bergman was second in Division IV, running 18:35 for 24th overall and fifth from the CCS. And Shelby Golan of St. Francis was third in Division II (18:58), with Mountain View third as a team.