The final results of the 2019 TCAL Varsity Cross Country Championships were, on paper, exactly as they were in 2018 with the Albany boys and the Saint Mary’s girls taking home team titles. However, longtime boy’s coach Jeff Rogers offered up one important distinction: “this year’s meet was equally as dominant for the girls but the boy’s meet was, unlike last year, was a toss up until the very end.”
Indeed, the defending champion girl’s team – who completely dominated the 2018 meet – once again dominated the 2019 competition. After individual runners from Albany and El Cerrito finished first and second overall, the next 7 runners all wore the red and white of Saint Mary’s to propel the Panthers to a lopsided victory. Junior Jordan Cornet led the way, running 19:46 over the rolling, 3.0 mile Point Pinole course. Teammate Nan Wemmer was next, placing 4th overall in 20:40. Surging freshman Sofia Jackson, who began the year on the junior varsity, showed her moxy with a 5th place and 1st team all-league run of 20:51. Senior co-captain Wiona Tan, freshman all-league star Summer Graham, junior Olivia Lawson, and 9th grade newcomer Leiah Goode comprised the team that made the league showdown a runaway for the Panthers.
“The girls were awesome today,” said a smiling coach Mohun afterwards. “The freshman trio has really brought a spark the group. Their energy and enthusiasm has lit a fire under the older girls and it’s benefitted everyone. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, they had to witness our team’s coming together the way they have.”
The boys team, finishing a mere 3 points shy of dethroning the defending champion Albany Cougars, ran the best race of their season according to coach Rogers. “We knew it was going to be a close race. Our guys could only control their race and I’m really proud of how they competed. Give credit to Albany, they ran well. But our guys, who came in as a substantial underdogs, ran as well as they could and left everything out there. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for.”
Freshmen sensation Mateo Malko-Allen finished 3rd overall in a PR 16:37. Junior captain Riley Hartney was close behind in 16:43 (4th overall) while fellow junior Zax Lieske ran a huge :30 second PR (16:50) on the Point Pinole course to finish 5th overall and score a place on the 1st team all-league podium. Freshman Adrian Licea also ran a lifetime best, crossing the finish line in 17:16 which was good for 12th overall and enough to get 2nd team all-league honors. Sophomores Jeffrey Norris and Ryan Painter finished 5th and 6th for the Panthers, with senior Talyn Mitchell running his final TCAL meet to close out the scoring.
For the JV and Frosh-Sop teams, the day was filled with personal bests and medals. Freshman Nico Laub-Sabater ran an “incredible race” in the words of coach Adalberto Gonzalez, finishing atop the medal podium in an impressive 11:45. Vale Johnson Vigeant and Jurgis Vass, both 9th graders, captured 2nd team honors as well as medals. Junior Matteo Brownlow and senior Alex Rudolph both medaled in the boys junior varsity race, with Alex outdueling Matteo by just :01 second.
The girls JV team, like the varsity girls team, placed 7 runners among the top 14 on their way to the runner-up team placing. Freshman Julia Runyan scared the 14:00 barrier before finally finishing in 14:04. After Julia, a trio of upperclassmen – Ashley Robarts, Sophia Kingsbury, and Simone Rogers – finished next for the Panthers… with Ashley and Sophia making it onto the 1st team. After that, a trio of freshmen – Taryn Fettig, Georgia Rogers and Cally McIntyre – finished their inaugural season by running themselves onto the 2nd team all-league squad.
Next up for the varsity Panthers is the North Coast Section championships on November 23rd at Hayward High School.