After nearly a month since the first day of school and practice, the cross country team utilized their depth, experience and lots of youthful talent to roll to victories over Hercules, SPSV, De Anza, and Vallejo on Thursday in their first TCAL league meet at Point Pinole Regional Park.
“Our runners have been anxious to finally get out here and race,” said JV Boys coach Rob Riccardi. “Some of them have raced in a couple of our Saturday invitational, but for a lot of runners this was their first time sporting the uniform. I think the training and the wait was worth it. They performed very well.”
Indeed, all four teams (JV Boys & Girls, Varsity Boys & Girls) scored lopsided wins against their rivals. For the JV teams, they seemed more than ready for the the rolling 2.0 mile course. Leading the way for the boys were a trio of talented freshmen, once again led by fast-rising Mateo Malko-Allen. Mateo has been performing, according to coach Jeff Rogers, “as well as any freshman we’ve had in quite a few years.” Already a top 5 freshman performer all-time on the time trial course, Mateo continues to impress with his bold running and fast times. He won the JV race in 11:23. Not far behind were another talented duo, Adrian Licea and Nico Laub-Sabater. Both Adrian and Nico were far ahead of their competitors while finishing 2nd (11:52) and 3rd (12:11) respectively. Jonathan Iglesias (8th overall), Vale Johnson Vigeant (9th), and Lukas Herz (12th) also had solid races according to coach Riccardi.
The JV Girls also dominated their race, grabbing the top 3 spots overall and 6 of the top 8 places. The top runners, freshmen Julia Runyan (1st overall), Cally McIntyre (3rd) and senior Sophia Kingsbury (2nd) cemented the scoring for the Panthers while freshmen Georgia Rogers (5th), Taryn Fettig (6th) and Emelia Podesta (8th) rounded out what turned out to be a runaway in the scoring. “I’m so proud of our girls,” said JV coach Ariana Corwin. “Our top 3 runners ran in the varsity race so the other girls had to step it up today and they did. They’re already running more than a minute faster than they did on the time trial we had a few weeks ago. It’s great to see their hard work paying off.”
Both Varsity teams, like the JV, dominated their races as well. Boys captain Riley Hartney ran his personal best on the Point Pinole course, out-pacing the competition by more than :35 seconds in covering the rolling 3.0 mile course in 16:58. Classmate Zax Lieske, himself no stranger to the Point Pinole course, ran 5th overall… while a foursome of teammates packed up to bolster the win for the Panthers. Jeffery Norris, Talyn Mitchell, Ryan Painter and Alex Rudolph finished 7th – 10th to make the race a runaway.
The Varsity Girls, who seek to defend their TCAL crown from 2018, flexed their collective muscles on Thursday as well… finishing in the top 6 places and scoring 8 of the top 10 overall that sent a message to the rest of the TCAL about who the team to beat will be in 2019. Running without top performer Jordan Cornet, the Panthers depth and experience made up for the loss with strong runs from juniors Nan Wemmer (1st) and Olivia Lawson (3rd) and senior Wioan Tan (2nd). After that, a trio of freshmen were not far behind. Sofia Jackson, Summer Graham and Leiah Goode continue to make their case that, despite their age and relative inexperience, they are indeed varsity runners. Each broke the vaunted 22:00 minute barrier in their first league race and now stand position themselves to be amongst the best newcomers in the entire league.
Next up for the Panthers is the Artichoke Invitational at Half Moon Bay High School on Saturday. The first race begins at 9:00 am!