NCS cross-country: Bowen wins NCS crown, takes team with her

Sonoma Academy's Rylee Bowen runs to an early lead at the start of the North Coast Section Cross Country Championships Division 5 race, at Hayward High School on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. Bowen won the race in 18:46. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Sonoma Academy’s Rylee Bowen runs to an early lead at the start of the North Coast Section Cross Country Championships Division 5 race, at Hayward High School on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. Bowen won the race in 18:46. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

By PHIL BARBER

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

HAYWARD — The North Coast Section cross-country championships can be a daunting event for a freshman. The field is big, the crowd of spectators bigger. The competition is a step up — or two steps — from what most kids experience during the season.

But Rylee Bowen is not a typical freshman. Her mom, the former Nika Horn, is a competitive triathlete who was once a star distance runner at Santa Rosa High. Rylee has been on the radar of local coaches since she was 7 years old.

“She has competed at the national level,” Danny Aldridge, her coach at Sonoma Academy, said near the finish line at Hayward High on Saturday. “This is actually a smaller stage for her. Her season starts at the state meet and the Foot Locker championships.”

Bowen didn’t disappoint anyone at the NCS meet. She won the girls’ Division 5 race by 10 seconds and hardly looked gassed at the finish line.

“My goal was to not fall down,” Bowen said.

Mission not accomplished. Perhaps a little tired after staying out particularly late at her school’s homecoming dance, Bowen slipped in a patch of slop on the first lap of the race and briefly went to the ground. Ultimately, it didn’t make a difference.

And the best part for Bowen? The rest of the Coyotes joined her on the podium. Sonoma Academy won its first cross-country championship, and the girls will head to Fresno for the CIF state meet next Saturday.

Bowen is the marquee name, for sure, but Aldridge pointed out that all five Coyotes girls came through. Start with petite junior Alyssa Goody, who had a breakthrough run and finished third in 19:02, 16 seconds back of Bowen.

“She’s been getting the coyote treatment all year,” Aldridge said of Goody. “You know the roadrunner and the coyote, how the coyote is always the one chasing? She’s run great races, but she’s stayed under the radar.”

Freshman McKenna Sell wins the Ironwoman Award. She turned an ankle on the rain-soaked course near the beginning of the race, but managed to finish 15th in 20:30. Sell was in obvious pain after the race, and had to be helped to the team tent.

“She’s so tough,” Bowen said of her teammate.

Madison Glenn, another Sonoma Academy freshman, finished 21st in 20:48.

“Madison Glenn ran an awesome race,” Aldridge said. “She beat girls who have been beating her by 30 or 40 seconds. And stayed close to teammates who have been beating her by 30 or 40 seconds.”

Junior Lilly Reinstein overcame a side stitch to finish 29th with a time of 21:08, and the Coyotes outpaced second-place Urban by a significant 32 points. About the only Sonoma Academy girl who didn’t seem thrilled with her result was Bowen, the D5 champion at the age of 15.

“Today wasn’t really my day,” she said with a sunny smile. “Next year. Next year will be my day.”

Or perhaps next week. As Aldridge pointed out, Branson came into the NCS meet ranked fifth in the state in Division 5, but finished far below Sonoma Academy. If the Coyotes can put together a group effort in Fresno like the one they offered at Hayward, a state podium finish is not out of the question.

  • CMC Sports Guy

    Anyone that has run in the CMC knows Goody was not a surprise. She was great last year as well. Great job to SA, they were strong all year, and dominant yesterday.