The Hilltop High School boys cross country team is scaling new heights this season with a No. 10 county ranking. They hope to finish higher by the end of the season.
The Lancers came up short in their opening Mesa League dual meet at second-ranked Otay Ranch on Oct. 1, dropping a tight 26-31 decision. Hilltop rebounded with some strategic moves to come out on top by a 17-43 score against visiting Mater Dei Catholic last Friday.
Senior Jimmy Byland set a new course record with a time of 15:39 on the 2.95-mile hill course. He dropped a staggering 21 seconds in setting the new record.
Every time Byland has run the Hilltop course, he has set a new record.
“To drop 21 seconds, that’s a difference of 150 to 160 yards,” Lancer head coach Chris Gentry said in amazement. “All of our top five had PRs in the race. I’m impressed how everyone stepped up.
“Having a league banner is not the only important thing; it’s about placing first, second or third at CIF or going to state.”
Byland finished 47 seconds ahead of teammate Miguel Tisnado (16:26) and 76 seconds ahead of teammate Eddie Castaneda (16:55).
Hilltop scored the top three runners in the race and five of the top six to win easily.
Malachi McCoy placed fifth in 18:01, followed by Christopher Bassig in 18:15.
Mater Dei Catholic sophomore Joshua Dunphy, who sped to the Red Devils Division frosh/soph title at September’s Ian Cumming/Tim Latham Invitational at Rohr Park, executed a challenge but finished fourth in 17:45.
Hilltop tallied six of the top seven runners in the 21-deep race.
Byland is looking to make a return trip to the state championship meet, and he’s looking to bring his teammates with him.
“My strategy was just to take the lead and push as much as I could, especially on the hill, where I’m weakest,” Byland said. “It feels amazing to set another PR.”
Byland finished fourth at the 2019 Division II section finals to qualify for the state meet. He finished second to Dana Hills senior Jai Dawson at the recent Mt. Carmel Invitational to solidify his position as one of the section’s elite runners.
“It was good, I was pleased,” said Byland, who timed 15:57.4 on the 2.95-mile course. “He (Dawson) was ranked high in the state, so it was cool to race him.”
Byland has set a personal goal of breaking 15 minutes in a 5K race.
“I want to really go back to state, and I want to bring my team with me,” he said.
Dunphy is looking to move up the pack order in coming seasons. Mater Dei Catholic senior Jane Clark is already there after winning the 2.2-mile girls varsity race in 14:46 to key a 22-32 victory.
The Lady Crusaders improved to 2-0 in league dual meets.
Mater Dei Catholic coach Carla Bray said she remains optimistic about the season. “They’re having fun,” she said of her runners. “They’re back with their friends. I’m happy they’re running. It’s an opportunity for the kids to have.”
Mesa League Dual Meet
Friday, Oct. 8 at Hilltop High School
Boys Varsity Dual: Hilltop 17, Mater Dei Catholic 43
1. Jimmy Byland (H) 15:29 (new course record)
2. Miguel Tisnado (H) 16:26
3. Eddie Castaneda (H) 16:55
4. Joshua Dunphy (MDC) 17:45
5. Malachi McCoy (H) 18:01
6. Christopher Bassig (H) 18:15
7. Ivan Mendoza (H) 19:40
8. Carlos Chavez (MDC) 19:51
9. Carlos Navarro (MDC) 20:10
10. Diego Flores (MDC) 20:12
11. Aldo Martinez (H) 20:20
12. Andrew Cox (MDC) 20:43
13. Kevin Lowrimore (H) 20:59
14. Leondardo Sandoval (H) 21:30
15. Hugo Gutierrez (MDC) 21:36
16. Nicholas Panuco (MDC) 21:39
17. Franco Arnaiz (MDC) 22:15
18. Edmund Gomez (MDC) 22:25
19. Luca Ye (MDC) 22:54
20. Mariano Demarchi (MDC) 23:25
21. Luis Zepeda (MDC) 23:34
Girls Varsity Dual: Mater Dei Catholic 22, Hilltop 32
1. Jane Clark (MDC) 14:46
2. Tamara Cornejo (H) 15:05
3. Catherine Doherty (MDC) 15:23
4. Lauren Kirkland (MDC) 15:25
5. Valeria Ceballos (H) 5:30
6. Sarah Clark (MDC) 15:33
7. Analee Martinez (H) 15:56
8. Carolina Villalpando (H) 16:04
9. Isabella Cruz (MDC) 16:07
10. Giselle Ornales (H) 16:13
11. Gabriela Alfaro (MDC) 16:15
12. Abigail Costello (H) 16:15
13. Brooke Andre (MDC) 16:41
14. Paola Suarez (H) 17:26
15. Isabel Hernandez (MDC) 17:27
16. Alejandra Rivera (H) 17:32
17. Angeloque Vo (MDC) 17:46
MESA LEAGUE SCOREBOARD
Friday, Oct. 8
Boys Dual Meets
Otay Ranch 20, Eastlake 41
Medalist: Anthony Martinez (E) 15:58.28
Bonita Vista 25, Olympian 32
Medalist: Enrique Aranda (BV) 17:14
League standings: Otay Ranch 2-0, Hilltop 1-1, Eastlake 1-1, Bonita Vista 1-1, Olympian 1-1, Mater Dei Catholic 0-2
Girls Dual Meets
Eastlake 23, Otay Ranch 38
Medalist: Vanessa Vuong (E) 15:06.86
Bonita Vista 20, Olympian 37
Medalist: Maya Galvan (O) 15:43
League standings: Eastlake 2-0, Mater Dei Catholic 2-0, Otay Ranch 1-1, Bonita Vista 1-1, Olympian 0-2, Hilltop 0-2