For Carrillo girls cross country, ‘it’s only news if we lose’


The time was so long ago — the last time Maria Carrillo’s cross country girls lost a league meet — that the Raiders had a winning record. Buster Posey wasn’t old enough yet to go to his junior prom. Baseball’s All-Star Game was declared a tie after 11 innings. And the saddest and the most bizarre development occurred that provided fodder for comics: Ted Williams was frozen.

Maria Carrillo has benefitted during its run of success from star athletes like Lauren and Cara Curtin, above, but those close to the program insist it has been a team- and community-wide venture. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / PD, 2009)

The year was 2002 and on Nov. 8th of that year Maria Carrillo’s cross country girls lost in the NBL finals to Piner. Since then, Carrillo has won 101 consecutive league meets, including seven consecutive NBL titles. Except for maybe stepping off a curb, doing anything one hundred times in a row is worth a big, fat gold star, especially when it goes on for seven years, going through, give or take, 120 or so girls. In a sport in which hard work is really hard work.

“We should have a target on our backs after all that,” said Maria Carrillo’s coach, Greg Fogg.

Prolonged excellence creates the most unusual dynamic for an adolescent: perspective. While it is common and completely natural for teenagers to live in the moment, with their world view extending only as far as to the end of their fingers, 101-0 provides — as they say in therapy — a growth opportunity.

“It’s like I don’t want to betray the girls that came before me,” said junior Gretel Petrie.

“It’s like we have become involved in something that’s bigger than us,’ said sophomore Brynna Thigpen.

“This is like living history,” said freshman Trixie Scolari.

Sure, Carrillo has been blessed with stars in the last seven years. Jenny Aldridge, Jacque Wentz, Amy Robinson, Kristin Sanzari, Leanne Fogg and the Curtin twins, Lauren and Cara, come to mind. But this is a school accomplishment, a team accomplishment, a veritable community effort that extends all the way down to the SUV Lady.

That would be Melanie Bartlett, who is responsible for lining up a dozen SUVs along the school’s curb two-to-three times a week, for 16 weeks, to take both Carrillo’s boys and girls teams to meets. Fogg has someone else in charge of the pasta feeds, another one for fundraisers, and still another for the end-of-the-year party. Carrillo in the best sense is a well-oiled and functioning machine with its destination clearly visible.

Run. Enjoy. Have fun. Bond. Get to know each other. Get to be a team.

“Cross country is the reason I came to Carrillo,” Scolari said. “My middle school coach at Rincon Valley, Ian Myers, convinced me. It’s been everything I’ve imagined … and more.”

No one who runs for Fogg feels like excess baggage. Fogg stresses “team” until their ears bleed, the message made quite easy to absorb after the events of a week ago Wednesday. Carrillo was in a three-way meet with Piner and Santa Rosa at Foothill Park in Windsor. Coming to the finish line Petrie was locked stride-for-stride with a Santa Rosa runner. If the Panther beats Petrie, Santa Rosa wins.

“And we wouldn’t be talking right now about our winning streak,” Fogg said.

Petrie beat the Santa Rosa girl by less than one second. Carrillo’s streak remained intact. Life goes on. And, on that day, it was especially sweet for Carrillo. Word had spread that this was going to be Carrillo’s 100th consecutive win.

“They wanted to destroy us,” Petrie said.

There is no place for them to hide.

“Especially after they read this article,” said sophomore Lauren Kraus.

For perspective, Fogg and assistant Ruben DiRado said Carrillo’s girls program first became high profile during its third undefeated year. It got to the point the coaches were thinking of printing a t-shirt that read: “It’s Only News If We Lose!” The shirt was never printed but the saying remains, now going strong into its fourth year.

How long will Carrillo stay on this ride? Who knows? But there’s no reason not to have fun with it; after all, that also has been part of the Pumas’ success. This is cross country. It’s not getting audited by the IRS, so let’s relax, shall we?

“I’m pretty sure,” Kraus deadpanned, “we’re going to go to 200 (consecutive victories).”

Kraus was joking. Or maybe she wasn’t. Wasn’t clear. One thing is, however.

Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it. So goes the axiom. Phooey on that says the Maria Carrillo girls. The Pumas have learned from their history and would love to be condemned to repeat it.

For more on North Bay sports go to Bob Padecky’s blog at You can reach Staff Columnist Bob Padecky at 521-5223 or