17 Saint Mary’s cross country runners braved the 47th running of the Artichoke Invitational on Saturday… several coming away with medals and all coming away with one unforgettable memory: “Cougar Hill”. Runners entering the fearsome hill in the middle of the 2.3 mile course are met with the warning “prepare to suffer” chalked on the ground at the base of the hill. After the race, all the runners confirmed this declared eventuality.
“It was really, really hard,” said freshman Jeffrey Norris. “I couldn’t feel my legs once I got to the top” declared Simone Rogers. “I could barely see once I got up there,” said senior Nic Lauxman. “I heard kids wimpering and crying on the way up,” said junior Wiona Tan. Indeed, “Cougar Hill” will be the enduring memory of the Artichoke Invitational.
The Frosh-Sop Boys were only one of two squads that fielded a complete team and finished 4th overall to lead the day for the Panthers. Both Zax Lieske and Riley Hartney medaled… with Zax out-dueling Riley in the end to take the top prize. Jeffrey Norris was a scant 3 places from a medal… while freshman Ryan Painter recovered from a slow start to eventually run a solid race according to coach Rob Riccardi. Freshman Ryan Wong and sophomore Matteo Brownlow completed the 6 person squad for the Panthers.
The Varsity Girls, plagued by scheduling conflicts and illness, could only manage to get 3 runners to the starting line. Fortunately, those 3 runners all medaled and ran very competitive races according to coach Spencer Moore. Sophomores Jordan Cornet and Olivia Lawson were the top 2.. with junior Wiona Tan not far off to claim the final medal of the day for Saint Mary’s.
The JV Girls threesome of Maddie Dwyer, Simone Rogers and Ashley Robarts were the first to test Cougar Hill while the Varsity Boys squad of Zander Lieske, Max Emerling, Coby Fan, Nic Lauxman and Talyn Mitchell were the last.
The Panthers continue their TCAL league season against St. Patrick’s, Jesse Bethel and Vallejo at St. Patrick’s High School on Thursday.