Cross Country Teams Wrap-Up Season at NCS Meet of Champions

Both varsity boys and girls teams completed their 2017 seasons at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions on Saturday.  The girls finished 8th overall while the boys were 16th.  Both squads were led, as they have the entire season, by their senior co-captains, Genevieve Wiley and Ben Jaffe.

“Both teams ran about as well as they could have,” said boys coach Jeff Rogers.  “It’s nice to see both teams running their best at the end of the season.”

For the reigning TCAL champions girls squad, 5 of the 7 runners were either freshmen or sophomores.  This, obviously, suggests that there are very good races in the future of this group.  “I think we’re all very excited about the future of this group,” said veteran coach Denis Mohun.  “They’ve had very good mentorship from both Katie (Woelffer) and Gen.  They’ve started to learn how to practice and compete.  I think our seniors laid the groundwork for this group in that respect.  Now it will be up to them to commit to the process and hoepfully we’ll be able to run our way to a podium spot or two.”

Following Genevieve on Saturday were a pair of 9th graders, Nan Wemmer and Olivia Lawson, who both completed outstanding freshmen campaigns.  Sophomore Hannah Cornejo ran a couple of minutes faster than she did a year ago to place 4th on the team… followed by senior co-captain Katie Woelffer.. who completed her Panther cross country career in fine fashion.  Sophomores Lauren Goode and Wiona Tan rounded out the squad for Saint Mary’s.

The boys, whose season was plagued by injury and setback, managed to run their best races at TCAL and here at MOC.  Juniors Zander Lieske and Max Emerling ran as fast as they ever had according to coach Rogers…. as did freshan Zax Lieske and juniors Matthew Rosenberg, Nic Lauxman and Coby Fan.

“Unfortunately, the season is over just as we’re starting to find some fitness race well,” said Rogers.  “I think a lot of us would like to see where the runners would be a month or two from now.  They’re definitely trending upwards.  Hopefully we can get the season started earlier next year so we can really see what the potential of this group is.”

Indeed, the improvement the runners showed over the course of the season was truly impressive.  Congratulations to all those who contributed to a great 2017 season!


Girls Leave No Doubt: Win Big at TCAL Champs

Both girls varsity and junior varsity teams, each long-time fixtures atop the Tri-County Athletic League, further cemented their status as area domineers with resounding victories at the league finals held at Point Pinole Regional Park on Thursday.  The girls varsity team, now champions for the 8th time in the past 10 years, was led by senior all-leaguer Genevieve Wiley.  While tallying a scant 29 points, the girls literally ran away with the team title.  Genevieve’s 2nd place overall finish was but one of many outstanding performances turned in by the Panthers in their final league contest.

Freshmen Nan Wemmer (5th overall) and Olivia Lawson (7th overall) combined with sophomore Lauren Goode (6th overall) to place 4 Panthers on the 1st team all-league squad.

“I was incredibly pleased and proud of all the girls today,” gushed girl’s coach Denis Mohun.  “They have really come together as a group and it was great to see them run so well together and for each other today. We constantly preach the importance of not only running for yourself but running for your team and it was so nice to see the girls do that today.  Katie (Woelffer), Hannah, Lauren, Gen and the entire group… they all had each other in mind today.  It was awesome.”  Both Hannah Cornejo and Katie Woelffer secured second team honors while recording their personal bests on the 3 mile Point Pinole course.

The JV girls, who last lost a league championship race while George W. Bush occupied the White House, were led by the 1-3-4-6-7 finish of Simone Rogers, Ashley Robarts, Eliza Pease, Maddy Daganzo and Meena Zamil.  Simone’s time of 14:27 was but one of the four runners for the Panthers who ran under 15:00 minutes.  In the 3 previous meets the Panthers have raced on the same course, not a single runner had broken 15:00.  Quite an impressive run for the perennial JV champions.

For both frosh-soph and varsity boys teams, the league championships provided plenty of PR’s (personal records) and plenty of close calls.  Junior Zander Lieske and senior Ben Jaffe both ran their way onto the 1st team all-league… each recording lifetime bests on the Point Pinole course while leading their team to a 3rd place overall finish.  Junior Max Emerling earned himself a medal and onto the 2nd team.. finishing in 18:09.  Senior Sasha Poletaev, still recovering from a tender groin strain, and junior Nic Lauxman capped the scoring for the Panthers.

The frosh-soph boys, running in their final race of the 2017 season, were defeated by a mere 5 points to an impressive Albany team.  Despite their runner-up status, the Panthers grabbed the top two individual places when sophomore Zach Deering-Haddix (11:37) and freshman Zax Lieske (11:42) crossed the line 1st and 2nd.   Sophomore Zack York ran, according to coach Rob Riccardi, “far and away his best race of the year” in finishing 6th in 12:12.  Freshman Riley Hartney and sophomore Owen Jump completed the scoring for the upstart frosh-soph squad.  Talyn Mitchell, Alex Rudolph and Dante Fadelli also ran strong races to culminate their seasons.

“In all, our teams ran great today,” concluded coach Jeff Rogers.  “As many as two dozen of our kids can walk away knowing they ran faster today than they ever have.  As a coach, what more can you ask for?”

Next up for the Panthers is the North Coast Section championships on November 18th at Hayward High School.  Both girls and boys varsity teams will be competing.  Good luck to all the runners at MOC!


Championship Banner Nothing New for Varsity Girls

The venerable varsity girls cross country squad… a perennial league and North Coast Section power… raced to their 9th league championship in the last 11 years with a convincing win over league rival Albany.  The league champion is determined on the basis of the teams won-loss record as well as the winner of the TCAL league finals race (which will be contested next week).   After their win against Albany, the varsity girls team is 10 – 0 and thus can do no worse than share the league championship.

“We expected a much tighter race today,” said highly decorated and longtime coach Denis Mohun.  “Albany has a solid program and has beaten us a couple of times in the past few years so we expected a tough race today.  Fortunately for us, our girls were determined to bring a banner home and ran with a determination and force that would have been hard for most teams to beat.  I’m proud of their effort today.”

At the head of this determined pack was, once again, Genevieve Wiley.  After running behind early in the race, Genevieve took the lead at the midway point…. never looking back on her way to :07 win over emerging freshman Nan Wemmer.  Nan’s 21:39 placed her second on the team for the 2nd consecutive race.  Fellow 9th grader Olivia Lawson continued her impressive freshman season… placing 3rd overall in 21:49.  Lauren Goode, Katie Woelffer and Hannah Cornejo were 4th, 5th and 6th respectively… all running within :05 seconds of each other and, more importantly for the team score, ahead of all the Cougar runners.  Newcomers Eliza Pease, Ashley Robarts and Maddie Daganzo all made their 3 mile debuts and received much praise from coach Mohun afterwards.

The varsity boys, running a bit short-handed once again, lost to the pre-season league favorite Cougars despite strong runs from senior Ben Jaffe and junior Max Emerling…. both of whom exceeded or ran close to lifetime bests.

The JV girls, bolstered by another strong win from Simone Rogers, scored victories over Albany, DeAnza, and JF Kennedy… none of who fielded complete teams.  Sophomore Meena Zamil, junior Samantha Ulloa, and freshman Nia Dippon followed Simone….as did Madison Bevilacqua who completed the scoring for the Panthers.

Finally, the JV boys… boasting a perfect 7 – 0 record coming into the meet, fell to rival Albany but defeated DeAnza and Kennedy to finish the regular season 9 – 1.  Zax Lieske won his 2nd JV league race this season and has yet to be beated in a non-varsity TCAL contest.  Coby Fan, Riley Hartney, Zack York and Owen Jump were the next finishers for the Panthers.. who look to next week’s TCAL finals for a chance to climb back atop the league mountain.


Girls Now One Win Away From TCAL Crown

Thursday’s TCAL showdown featured the only two remaining undefeated varsity girls teams in the league – El Cerrito and Saint Mary’s – which meant that the winner would have the inside track to at least a share of the league title with only one meet to go.  After a back and forth, tightly contested race by both teams, the Panthers emerged with a narrow  25-32 win.  Leading the Panthers, once again, was senior co-captain Genevieve Wiley who finished 2nd overall.

“Gen has been our top runner all season,” remarked coach Denis Mohun. “She’s been there for us all season and today we really needed her and she came through.”  Joining Genevieve with equally big races were a pair of fast-rising newcomers, freshmen Nan Wemmer and Olivia Lawson who finished 3rd and 5th overall.

“Both Nan and Olivia have very bright futures for us,” said Mohun.  “They’re both very talented, hard-working, impressively competetive athletes.  I have no doubt that both have the talent and potential to lead our team to great things down the road.”

After Nan and Olivia were sophomore Lauren Goode (whose season continues to impress) and senior Katie Woelffer.  Sophomores Hannah Cornejo and Wiona Tan finished 6th and 7th on the team, while freshman Simone Rogers finished 8th for the Panthers.

Concluded coach Mohun, “Overall, our girls team had a solid race today.  We were able to get enough contributions from enough people to pull out a win.  It was a goal of ours to win the league this year and now we’re one step closer.  All that stands in our way is Albany on Thursday.”

For the boys, despite an overall 1-2 finish for senior Ben Jaffe and Zander Lieske, for the second time this year they finished on the wrong side of a razor thin score… this time a 27-29 loss to El Cerrito.  Junior Max Emerling and sophomore Zach Deering-Haddix finished 3rd and 4th for the Panthers (7th and 8th overall)… while junior Matthew Rosenberg closed out the scoring by finishing 11th overall.

Both JV teams recorded dominant wins… the girls finishing in the first 7 places and having 9 of the first 11 runners cross the line first while the JV boys ran away with 9 of the first 10 places.  The girls race was won by freshman Ashley Robarts (15:38)… whose freshman teammate Eliza Pease was 2nd in 15:48.  Maddie Daganzo, Meena Zamil and Reyna Heredia finished the scoring for the victorious Panthers.  The JV boys, led by race winner Coby Fan and runner-up Zack York, are still undefeated going into their race against Albany on Thursday.  Team leader Owen Jump placed 3rd at 13:34…. with fellow sophomores Talyn Mitchell and Alex Rudolph finishing 4th and 5th to punctuate the win.

Next up for the Panthers will be the TCAL finale on Thursday at Point Pinole Regional Park against long-time rival Albany.  First race will be the JV Boys at 4:00 pm.

Panthers Back On Track With Big Win Over John Swett

After nearly a week of meet re-scheduling, interrupted running, and even practice cancellation due to the poor air quality resulting from the North Bay fires, the Panthers needed no pre-race pep talks or inspiration to run – they were more than ready.  Led by race-winners Genevieve Wiley, Ben Jaffe, Simone Rogers and Zach Deering-Haddix, the Panthers swept all four races on their way to dominant wins over the visiting John Swett Warriors at Point Pinole Regional Park.

“It was really nice to finally get out and race,” said head JV Boys coach Craig Sutphin.  “It feels like it’s been a month since we’ve raced and I know the guys were ready to finally get out there and test their fitness.”

For the varsity boys, their fitness levels were apparent in their 1-6 finish.  Following closely behind Ben were juniors Zander Lieske and Max Emerling…. who were followed by Nic Lauxman, freshman Zax Lieske and Matthew Rosenberg.











The varsity girls, running un-challenged for a second straight TCAL contest, flexed their collective muscles on the eve of their TCAL showdown on Monday against rival El Cerrito.  After Genevieve, a pair of underclassmen – sophomore Lauren Goode and freshman Olivia Lawson – broke 22:00 minutes on the rolling 3 mile course… running 21:44 and 21:52 respectively.  Senior co-captain Katie Woelffer was next in 22:04… followed by sophomores Hannah Cornejo (22:20) and Wiona Tan (23:14).

“The girls ran a very controlled race today,” said longtime coach Denis Mohun.  “They executed their race plans and were able to get on the Point Pinole course.  We were happy with how things turned out.”

Both JV teams ran un-opposed but still were able to turn in impressive times.  Sophomore Zach Deering-Haddix dominated the JV boys race, scoring a :36 second win.  Zack York, Coby Fan, Owen Jump and Dante Fadelli completed the scoring for the Panthers.  Sophomore Talyn Mitchell and freshman Dominic Morales also ran good races according to coach Sutphin.

The JV Girls race had a pair of freshmen top finishers… Simone Rogers (15:08) and Ashley Robarts (15:17).  Following closely behind were Meena Zamil, Maddie Daganzo and Reyna Heredia.


Varsity Girls, JV Boys Pace Panthers in TCAL Opener

Led by a dominant Varsity Girls and an inspired JV Boys team, the Panthers opened the 2017 TCAL season against league rivals St. Patrick’s, Hercules and Pinole Valley at St. Patrick’s. The Varsity Girls, considered by some to be the pre-season favorite to take home yet another TCAL crown, flexed its lungs on Wednesday while posting a trio of convincing wins.  Senior Genevieve Wiley and freshmen Olivia Lawson and Nan Weemer led the way over the hilly, rugged 3 mile course…. finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall.

Senior co-captain Katie Woelffer was next, fulfilling her pacing duties before diligently moving into the 4th spot.  A pair of sophomores, Lauren Goode and Wiona Tan finished next… followed by freshmen Simone Rogers and Elize Pease.  In all, 8 Panthers crossed the finish line before an opposing runner.  “Dominance” was indeed achieved by this group of Panther harriers.

The JV Boys, meanwhile, pulled out a close win over the home team… with the final tally showing 27-30 Panthers.  Both JV coaches, Sutphin and Riccardi, heaped praise on their teams win.  “With about 1/2 mile to go, we were down to St. Pat’s,” said coach Sutphin.  “Then, our guys just decided that we weren’t going to lose and… ‘BAM’, just like that they found another gear to pull out the win.”  Coach Riccardi concurred, giving praise to several runners.  “Zax was obviously really good today having won the race.  But, I was also impressed with how Josh, Alex, Julian, Dom and Owen ran.  Those guys stayed together, pushed each other, and ultimately pulled out the race for us.”

The JV Girls, like the Varsity Boys, ran short-handed… each team experiencing a rash of injuries and illness.  Still, despite their adversity, both teams fought hard until ultimatley falling to the much-improved Bruins.  The Varsity Boys were led by senior Ben Jaffe, who finished 2nd overall and who continues to be the Panthers most consistent runner.  Junior Zander Lieske was the 2nd Panther in and 3rd overall… while teammate Max Emerling was 3rd on the team and 5th overall.  Juniors Nic Lauxman, Matthew Rosenberg and Coby Fan finished the scoring for the Panthers.

The JV Girls, several who were running in their 1st or 2nd race ever, negotiated the steep, hilly course admirably and with some grit.  After seeing 3 different Panthers lead the race at some point, freshman Nia Dippon finally emerged as the fastest Panther.  After Nia, junior Madison Bevilacqua and another freshman, Mira Henry, crossed the finish line.  Freshman Waverly Salvador was next… followed by Angelie Cecka and Erica Ortiz.

Next up for the Panthers is their home opener against El Cerrito, Salesian and Richmond at Point Pinole Regional Park on Thursday, October 12th.


Seniors The Story @ Farmer Invitational

Youth and potential grabbed the headlines for the Panthers cross country teams in the first two weeks of the season.  However, while those talented youths continued to shine in week 3, experience and veteran leadership were what led the team at the Farmer Invitational.  Senior captains Sasha Polataev and Genevieve Wiley were the top finishers for the Panthers, each claiming the runner-up spot in their respective races.

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“Both Sasha, Genevieve and all the other upper-classmen ran excellent races today,” said girls head coach Denis Mohun.  “Our captains moved up steadily throughout the race and each of them ran tough.  It’s really great for them but also really great for the other kids on our team to see that kind of effort.”

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Two other seniors, Ben Jaffe (3rd overall) and Katie Woelffer (13th)….. along with juniors Zander Lieske (5th), Max Emerling (9th), Matthew Rosenberg (18th), and Maddie Daganzo (23rd) also ran solid races that earned them top 25 medals.

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The underclassmen, mostly racing in grade-level races and many racing in their first ever race, continued to perform admirably.   Sophomores Lauren Goode, Hannah Cornejo and Wiona Tan all finished in the top 15 in their race…. finishing 8th, 10th and 15th respectively.  Another sophomore, Zack Deering-Haddix, finished 15th in the sophomore boys race to claim a well-deserved medal.  Freshman teammate Zax Lieske also walked away with a piece if hardware, earning his medal with his 22nd place finish.

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The freshmen girls completed the medal haul with three runners claiming prizes…. top finisher Olivia Lawson (6th)… followed by Simone Rogers (12th) and Eliza Pease (14th).

“I thought our athletes ran well today,” said coach Jeff Rogers after the meet.  “Many took home Screen Shot 2017-09-16 at 2.35.41 PMmedals and most ran personal best times.  Also, many of our runners were running their first ever race and I was proud that they got out there… managed their emotions… and competed.  Josh York, Matteo, Gabe, Frankie, Kernie, Waverly, Nia, Josh Tibay…. they were all running for the first time…. which brings with it a whole set of challenges.  In the end, they gutted it out and did a nice job.”

The Panthers won’t be back in action until Wednesday, October 4th when they open the TCAL season against St. Patrick’s – St. Vincent’s, Pinole Valley and Hercules.  The meet will be at St. Patrick’s High School in Benicia.





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No Experience… No Problem for Panthers at Ed Sias

The Saint Mary’s Cross Country team officially opened the 2017 season at the 33rd annual Ed Sias Invitational at Hidden Valley Park in Martinez.  This second Saturday in September also happened to coincide with the first offering of this year’s SAT exam.  Thus, most of the team’s upper classmen were battling analytic reasoning questions instead of steep hills.  Still, the young, mostly inexperienced group that did compete at Ed Sias did so with ferocity, determination and grit.

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“Both JV groups had outstanding races today,” said first year coach Rob Riccardi.  “I remember running this race in high school and it’s tough.  The course is not easy and the competition is top notch.  So for our runners to come out and compete the way they did is gratifying.  They did a good job.”

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Leading the way were the JV girls. Their 6th place team finish was highlighted by the day’s top performer: Olivia Lawson.  Following an impressive time trial run a week ago, Olivia battled her way to a 12th place finish and the fastest time by any of the Lady Panthers on the hot, hilly course.  Following Olivia were the tightly bunched pack of Wiona Tan, Hannah Cornejo, Eliza Pease, and Simone Rogers… all of whom finished within 7 seconds of one another.  Sophomore Lauren Goode completed the talented JV squad.

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Coach Craig Sutphin’s JV Boys squad also battled their way to a top 10 finish.  Sophomore Zach Deering-Haddix led the way… running the 2nd fastest time of the day for all Panther runners at 12:24.  He finished 22nd overall.  After Zach was top freshman Zax Lieske at 13:00.  Following Zax were teammates Coby Fan, and freshmen first-timers Dante Fadelli, Zach York and Josh Tibay.  Sophomore Owen Jump rounded out the squad for Saint Mary’s.

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Both boys and girls ran incomplete varsity teams on Saturday… the boys lining up 4 runners and the girls 3.  Senior Ben Jaffe was the top finisher at 12:02… which was a mere :02 behind coach Rob Riccardi who ran 12:00 in the coaches race under cool 8:30 am skies.


Panthers Preview Young Talent at 19th Annual Time Trial

Zander Lieske and Ben Jaffe

Fresh faces, fast times, and youthful exuberance were on display at the 19th annual time trial… run on a winding, rolling 1.90 mile course in Tilden Park.  Leading this year’s group were a pair of seniors running their final time on the historic course – Sasha Polataev and Genevieve Wiley.  Sasha was the day’s fastest runner, clocking a personal best 11:10.  Genevieve, meanwhile, also began her final campaign with a big PR…finishing as the school’s 7th fastest senior of all-time in 13:09.

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Following Sasha were junior Zander Leiske (11:33) and fellow senior Ben Jaffe (11:41).  Each recorded lifetime bests… with Ben running an impressive 1:42 faster than last year’s time.  Freshman Zax Lieske made his presence felt…. finishing in 12:49 which earned him a top 20 all-time ranking.  Juniors Max Emerling, Matthew Rosenberg and Nic Lauxman finished next… with the former two recording all-time bests.  Freshmen Dante Fadelli and Kernie Sadausky along with sophomores Coby Fan and Owen Jump also had excellent races according to coach Rob Riccardi after the race.

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For the girls, after Genevieve finished the day’s top performer… freshman Olivia Lawson.  After a solid first half of the race, Olivia battled and fought her way to an impressive #4 all-time finish.  Her 13:39 time as a freshman has only been exceeded by current UNLV star Spencer Moore, Junior Olympian Kara Anderson, and All-TCAL veteran Julia English.  Quite an accomplishment for Olivia!  After Olivia, another freshman – Nan Weemer – ran her way to the 9th fastest freshman time ever.  One other freshman, Simone Rogers, added her name to the all-time list…finishing in 15:02 which was good for 13th all-time.  Senior co-captain Katie Woelffer finished her final time trial with her best time at 14:45. Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 9.47.55 PM  Sophomores Lauren Goode, Hannah Cornejo, Wiona Tan and Meena Yasmil all recorded lifetime bests… with Hannah and Wiona each running more than two minutes faster than they did last year!

“In all, it was nice to get a preview of where we are at this point,” said girls head coach Denis Mohun.  “I was impressed with some of our freshmen and sophomores… they really laid it out there today.  I also liked some of the leadership and grit showed by our seniors.  As a staff, we hope that our team can build some momentum from today.”

Next up for the Panthers will be the Monte Vista Invitational on Tuesday September 5th in Danville.



2017 Season Preview

Senior Co-Captain Katie Woelffer
Nic Lauxman, Zander Lieske & Max Emerling

“Our success this (2017) cross country season will be largely determined by the commitment and improvement of our young, relatively inexperienced runners,”  says longtime coach Denis Mohun.  Those sentiments, reiterated and supported by other members of the coaching staff, seem to be the prevailing prognostications as the season nears.

The girls team will be undoubtedly buoyed by seniors Genevieve Wiley and Katie Woelffer.  Genevieve returns as the teams lone varsity all-league performer from a year ago and is looking to compete at the very top of the TCAL.  “If her summer training is any indication,” says coach Mohun, “Gen is priming herself to make a run at the TCAL crown this year.”

Senior Genevieve Wiley

Katie, along with Genevieve will serve as the team’s co-captain, will also look to build on her solid 2016 season.  Her summer, like Genevieve’s, suggest that her contribution will be invaluable.  Still, the ultimate success of this year’s team will lie in the legs and lungs of the underclassmen.  Juniors Anya Van Noord and Jazmine Newson will provide some experience, while sophomores Lauren Goode, Hannah Cornejo and Wiona Tan will contribute their talents after all experiencing solid inaugural campaigns in 2016.  Each of these girls has the talent to be upper-echelon TCAL performers, but as Coach Mohun reminds us, “talent is but the primer in cross country.  Nothing beats hard-work and dedication.  Nothing.”

Captain Sasha Polataev

For the boys, senior captain Sasha Polataev will lead a team whose members are, like the girls, talented but inexperienced.  Sasha’s contributions will be vast and relied upon.  Fortunately, he seems to be right on track.  “Sasha’s summer has been truly outstanding,” says longtime boys varsity coach Jeff Rogers.  “It’s quite obvious that he’s caught the running bug and it’s exciting to see it.  I expect Sasha will have an impressive senior season.”

Joining Sasha will be fellow senior Ben Jaffe, whose dedication and improvement have been a huge boost to the culture of the team.  Ben’s been “a huge inspiration to everyone in our program,” according to coach Rogers…. runners and coached alike.  Juniors Zander Lieske and Max Emerling will also try and make their presence known, each entering their 2nd varsity season.

In sum, the 2017 season needs youthful exuberance  and talent to meet hard-work, commitment and determination.  Fueled by a motivated coaching staff and several veteran runners, the hope is that those ingredients will mesh and the results will show themselves in November.