NCS cross country: Pumas’ boys, girls back on sure footing

Maria Carrillo’s Ryan Anderson, the defending NCS Division 2 champion, looks to repeat at Saturday’s meet in Hayward. (JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat)

Maria Carrillo’s Ryan Anderson, the defending NCS Division 2 champion, looks to repeat at Saturday’s meet in Hayward. (JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat)

By PETER FOURNIER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The first significant rain of fall couldn’t have come with more interesting timing for runners slated to compete in the North Coast Section cross country championships Saturday at Hayward High School.

Weather, though, shouldn’t play too much of a factor, says Maria Carrillo’s Ryan Anderson, who’s the defending NCS Division 2 boys champion. Last year’s race happened to be a muddy affair as it rained during the race.

“Last year, I was slipping down the hill I was trying to run up,” Anderson said.

Anderson, who’s aiming to finish in the top 10 at state this year after a 13th-place finish in 2012, compared the conditions in last year’s NCS meet to taking three steps forward and one step back.

“Last year it was raining the whole time and the course was muddy, so everybody was running pretty slow,” he said.

Anderson said his team went to see the course last weekend, and he thinks race organizers will try to avoid a repeat of 2012.

“They’re learning from what happened last year,” he said.

The Pumas boys won the Division 2 team meet last year, and the Carrillo girls are the two-time defending champions.

“It’s really our gateway to get to the state meet and we’re really looking forward to doing well and getting to state,” Anderson said.

Both teams moved on to the Division 2 state championship, with the boys finishing 11th and the girls 17th.

Expected to compete with Carrillo in Division 2 is Casa Grande, and Gauchos coach Carl Triola is optimistic.

“It’s the best team that Casa Grande’s ever hand,” he said. “Division 2 is going to be really tight. They’re going to have to run really well.”

The only Gauchos boys runner who qualified for state last year was Matt Salazar, who finished in 127th place. The girls finished 21st out of 22 teams in 2012, but that squad had only two seniors, so five of those runners are returning.

“We were probably one of the youngest squads at state,” Triola said. “It’s good for both of us to have kids that are returning and have experience.”

Casa sophomore Matt Salazar took second place in the boys NBL championship race earlier this month behind Anderson — that’s also how they finished in last year’s NCS meet — while Saskia VanOmmeren-Egberts, Ileana Moon and Adria Barich took fourth, fifth and sixth place in the 2013 NBL girls championship race.

In Division 3, Analy’s Molly Foster won the 2013 girls SCL championship. A senior, Foster finished 78th at state last year after a 10th-place finish at the NCS meet.

Piner’s SCL championship teams are highlighted by junior Efren Reyes, who finished eighth at the Division 4 state meet last year and finished second behind Petaluma’s Casey Kramer for the individual SCL title this year.

The Prospectors boys won their fourth consecutive league title – their second consecutive in the SCL after two straight in their final two years in the NBL – last week at Spring Lake. In 2012, they finished fourth in NCS and ninth at state. The Piner girls are two-time defending SCL champions.

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