Thu, Dec 01 2011 12:04 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The ending to the 2011 high school cross country season will officially be written at the Footlocker National Championships, scheduled Dec. 10 at Balboa Park’s Morley Field. Will La Costa Canyon senior Darren Fahy trade his state title in for a national championship? Will the San Diego Section have multiple entries in the elite field?
For Metro Conference runners, the high point of their season had to be last Saturday’s state championship meet in Fresno — the place where Fahy claimed the crown as the state’s reigning Division II boys champion.
While there were no San Diego County team champions (the La Costa Canyon girls were second in their Division II race), there were plenty of superlatives generated on the Woodward Park 5K course.
And generated by Metro Conference student-athletes, at that.
Otay Ranch junior Carina Gillespie finished seventh in the Division I girls race to claim honors as the top San Diego Section finisher in the field of 190 runners while Mustang senior Steven Martinez finished as the top San Diego Section finisher, 13th in 15:30, in the 188-deep Division I boys race.
Gillespie’s time of 18:07 placed her just two seconds out of sixth place, four seconds out of fifth place and eight seconds out of fourth place.
Martinez finished just three seconds out of an elite top 10 finish.
Pretty impressive numbers.
Gillespie, the top runner at the 2011 Metro finals and reigning Mesa League individual champion, finished 37th overall among 944 runners from all five enrollment divisions — third best overall among all San Diego runners. She was fourth best at the Division I section finals on Nov. 19.
Martinez, the reigning Mesa League individual champion and top Metro runner, finished 26th in the combined field of 958 boys — fourth best among all section harriers. He was third at the Division I section finals.
Seven South County runners advanced as individual qualifiers to last Saturday’s state meet. Joining the Otay Ranch runners from the Metro Conference were Chula Vista senior Mariza Diaz, Sweetwater junior George Martinez, Bonita Vista senior Caesar Castillo, Castle Park junior Miguel Lopez and Mater Dei Catholic senior Mallory Davenport.
Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy senior Christian Quidang qualified to compete in the Division V boys race.
Castillo, the lone Metro qualifier in the Division II boys race, finished 16th in 15:42 — fourth best among section runners after placing 11th at the section divisional finals.
SuHi’s Martinez, the reigning South Bay League champion, finished 49th in the Division I boys race in 16:06. He had finished eighth in the division at the section finals.
Lopez, the runner-up at the South Bay League championship meet, finished 78th in the Division III boys race in 16:34. He had finished third in the division at the section finals.
Diaz, the reigning South Bay League champion and the Metro’s other qualifier in the Division I girls race, finished 79th in 19:24. She had finished seventh in the division at the section finals and was second to Gillespie (the Mesa League champion) at the Metro finals, held Nov. 11 at Rohr Park.
Quidang, who finished sixth at the section Division V finals, placed 91st in the field of 182 runners at the state meet in 18:05.
Davenport, who finished 13th at the section Division IV finals, placed 141st out of 194 runners at the state meet in 21:38.
At the section championship meet, Gillespie trailed race winner Brianna Miller, a junior from Carlsbad, by 31 seconds and came in 14 seconds behind runner-up finisher Ashlyn Dadkhah, a senior from Torrey Pines. Patrick Henry junior Hannah Kay finished five seconds ahead of Gillespie to secure third place.
The Mustang harrier finished ahead of all of them at the state finals, besting Dadkhah (14th, 18:21) by 14 seconds, Miller (18th, 18:28) by 21 seconds and Kay (36th, 18:59) by 52 seconds.
It is said that runners are measured only on their performance on a particular race day. For Gillespie, it was a chance to be queen of the course.
And for Otay Ranch’s Martinez: the king of the course.
Martinez posted the top time among all Metro boys at the state finals, finishing the course 12 seconds faster than BV’s Castillo, who had bettered Martinez’s time by one second at the section finals.
Castillo’s time placed him 52nd overall among all boys at the state meet.
Poway senior Eric Hayen, the San Diego Division I champion, finished 35th in the state field — 26 seconds behind Otay’s Martinez. The Mustang harrier had finished 19 seconds behind Hayen at the section finals.
Otay Ranch, easily fielding its top girls team in school history, came the closest among Metro teams to qualify as a team for last weekend’s state championship meet. The top three teams in the Division I girls race advanced to Fresno. The Mustangs finished fourth — 10 points out of third place.
Kudos have to go to Gillespie as well as juniors Brenda Hernandez and Juliana Corrao, both of whom earned CIF medals with top 20 finishes. Hernandez finished 11th in 17:04 while Corrao was 14th in 17:14. Gillespie finished fourth in 16:28.
Otay Ranch’s fourth scorer, senior Blanca DeLaRocha, finished 29th in 17:45 while the Mustangs’ fifth scorer, sophomore Marlene Gadea, was 46th in 18:10.
The Mustangs finished sixth in the Division I boys field — 24 points ahead of seventh-place Sweetwater.
Head coach Ian Cumming noted Otay Ranch’s sixth-place finish had its satisfying elements. “Few people might have given us a chance to challenge for the Mesa League title again and finish as high as we did at CIF considering the talent we had graduated,” Cumming said.
LCC’s Fahy won the Division II boys title in 15:03, seven seconds ahead of Ramona’s Dylan Blankenbaker — a rare feat in which two San Diego Section runners finished 1-2 at the state finals. Ramona edged the Mavericks for third place by two points.
LCC, which posted a 1-2-3-4-6 finish to just miss a perfect 15 score to claim the Division II section girls title, finished 21 points behind team champion Saugus.
The Footlocker West Regional is scheduled Saturday, Dec. 3, at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut. The top 10 qualifiers from each of four regionals across the United States will comprise the Footlocker national field.
For complete results of the San Diego Section finals, visit the Website at www.sdtrackmag.com.
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