By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
HAYWARD — The coaches of the Maria Carrillo and Casa Grande cross country teams were hoping their kids could pull off a rare feat at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions — a one-two finish for the North Bay League in both boys and girls divisions.
They came pretty close, too. The Carrillo boys and girls both claimed section titles in Division 2 on Saturday. The Casa boys finished second, and the girls were third, just nine points behind second-place Alameda.
The bad news for the Redwood Empire: Just one other team, the Piner boys, will be joining all those Pumas and Gauchos at the CIF State Cross Country Championships in Fresno next Saturday.
“I’m feeling really confident,” Maria Carrillo senior Ryan Anderson said. “I think we’re probably going to run our team’s fastest time there. We’re looking to get into the top 10.”
The only local individual champion at Hayward High was Piner’s Efren Reyes, who scorched the Division 4 competition with a 14-second victory, finishing in 15:39.
Local runners who qualified for state individually included Santa Rosa sophomore Delaney White, Petaluma sophomore Madison Parratt, Mendocino senior Erin Thomas and Sonoma Academy sophomore Alyssa Goody among the girls, and Petaluma senior Casey Kramer, Windsor senior Zach Price, Sonoma Academy senior Patrick Loftus, and El Molino junior Brady Lane and freshman Brian Schulz among the boys.
Now Brian, who finished fifth in the Division 4 race with a time of 15:58 on Saturday, is headed to Fresno — and he won’t even have to sneak in.
The individual performance of the day probably belonged to Anderson. He couldn’t keep up with a late kick by Livermore’s Tyler Olson, but easily took second place in Division 2. It was a blistering race, and Anderson’s time, 15:06, was the third fastest ever by an Empire runner at Hayward, three seconds behind Piner’s Luis Luna in 2011, and two seconds behind Petaluma’s Sterling Lockert in 2008.
Carrillo coach Greg Fogg likes Anderson’s chances at the CIF meet.
“The difference between this and state is that at state, you have to go out 10 seconds faster at the mile mark,” Fogg said. “The energy of the race just demands it. I think Ryan is strong enough to do that.”
Then again, maybe senior Shaz Breedlove was the standout Puma. She has been of the area’s top distance runners for a couple years, but until Saturday, she had gotten used to finishing second to White, the Santa Rosa thoroughbred. Breedlove felt she was narrowing the gap, and quietly made it her goal to unseat White.
Breedlove edged past her quarry in the final mile and finished second in the Division 2 race at 18:30. White was third, four seconds behind her.
“I just wanted to beat her,” Breedlove said, calling White a great runner. “I just wanted to beat her, because she always wins. I don’t know, maybe have a new person in first from our area.”
White, who missed the Meet of Champions with an injury as a freshman, didn’t sound ready to call this a personal rivalry.
“No, I’m focused on myself,” she said. “Shaz has a better kick than me. I should have done some different things in the last mile of this race. But you know, I achieved my goal. My goal was to win NBL and go to state this year, and I achieved those things.”
Maria Carrillo sophomore Cecelia Avelar finished sixth in the D2 race.
But if Carrillo coach Greg Fogg gets a vote, his team MVP was senior Mackenzi Segraves. As Fogg notes, what really wins the team competition at NCS is the performance of your four-five-six runners. (Each team is allowed up to seven.) And Segraves knocked it out of the park, clocking 19:06 to finish 10th despite fighting a cold for most of the week.
Not bad for someone who didn’t take up the sport until this fall. Segraves has been a hurdler and half-miler for the Pumas track team, but spent her previous autumns playing soccer. This year she decided to try cross country, and her progress has been impressive.
With Segraves’ help, the Maria Carrillo girls won the NCS meet for the third straight year, and for the fifth time in six years.
The boys won for the second consecutive year. Dynasty? If the running shoe fits, wear it.
Another female standout was Thomas, who was third in the Division 5 race at 18:33. It’s a return trip to Fresno for the Mendocino runner, and another tribute to her discipline.
The product of the tiniest of programs, Thomas was the only Cardinals runner at the NCS meet.
Leading the way for the Casa Grande boys were sophomore Matt Salazar and junior Nicholas Rauch. Salazar (15:26) was sixth in Division 2 and Rauch (15:47) was seventh, though the gap between them was large. The top Gauchos girls finisher was sophomore Saskia Van Ommeren-Egbert, who was eighth in 18:55. Reyes’ victory in Division 4 was not overly surprising, but impressive nonetheless.
He attacks the course with a fierce expression, and he carried out his plan perfectly Saturday.
Reyes went out front quickly but stayed close to the pack for a mile before turning on the jets. By the time he started Mile 3 on the three-mile course, he had a 50-yard lead on the next guy.
It was a redemptive race for Reyes, who ran poorly at the Sonoma County League championships two weeks ago.
His coach, Luis Rosales, said he lacked focus in that race. Reyes said he didn’t get a good night’s sleep. He looked well rested and highly focused in Hayward.
You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or email@example.com.