Montgomery freshman Hanne Thomsen wins state cross country title
Tragedy, adversity and a state championship.
That’s the story of Montgomery High’s 2021 cross country season.
Vikings freshman Hanne Thomsen stunned many across California’s prep running scene on Saturday morning, winning the CIF State Division 3 girls cross country championship ahead of two-time state champion and senior Riley Chamberlain of Del Oro — beating the upperclassman by exactly three seconds at Fresno’s Woodward Park.
Thomsen’s state championship concludes a somewhat tumultuous season for the Vikings, which was darkened by the death of longtime running coach Bryan Bradley while coaching a practice at Trione-Annadel State Park in late August.
Coach Melody Karpinski said the goal when she and Bradley — also a co-head coach for the Vikings in track — came on in 2016 was to get the athletes back to state, something she said hadn’t happened since 2008.
They had qualifiers go to state in 2017, 2018 and 2019, but Thomsen is the first state champion Karpinski or Bradley had ever coached.
“We had always been a team since coming on board as head coaches,” Karpinski said.
Although Bradley wasn’t there to see it, the accomplishment would have made him proud, Karpinski said. Thomsen staved off a final push by Chamberlain in the final 800 meters.
“It was definitely a fight there between the (600-meter mark) and the 300, but Hanne pulled it out,” she said.
Thomsen said she was at the front of the pack for the majority of the race, and started to take control near the middle of the contest.
“After the big hill in the middle, I was able to pull away a little bit, and that’s when I was like, ‘I think I have a chance,’” she said.
The newly crowned state champion appreciated the work put in by her coaches, including Bradley, to get her to the top.
“I hope that Bryan will be proud of me,” she said.
Thomsen’s title run is the first for Montgomery since Sara Bei’s four-peat from 1997-2001. Bei won the first two in Division 3 and the last two in Division 2, according to Redwood Empire Running’s Jim Crowhurst, a chronicler of local running marks.
“Our goal was always to not only get a team to state, which we should have a good shot at for next year, but also to just forever get them in the best shape and best possible outcome,” Karpinski said.
The last Redwood Empire cross country champion was St. Helena’s Harper McClain in 2019.
The Maria Carrillo boys cross country team finished on the podium in the Division 3 race for the second time in a row, finishing third. West Torrance won the team event and Campolindo (Moraga) was second.
Pumas coach Greg Fogg said it’s only the second time the boys had reached the podium in school history, and they happened to be twice in a row.
“This year they ran better as a team,” said Fogg, comparing it to 2019, adding, “by that I mean the gap between first and fifth was pretty close. And they all seemed to be working together.”
The top five Maria Carrillo runners all scored in the top 60 of a total of 207 runners in the contest, including three in the top 30.
Jacob Donohue was the highest scoring and placing Puma, finishing in 36th place but scoring in 24th. Noe Vieyra finished 39th but scored in 27th and Oswaldo Rodriguez-Lopez finished 43rd but scored 29th.
The other two Maria Carrillo runners to place were Sean Gubera, who finished 57th but scored in 38th, and Adam McCorquodale, who placed 79th but scored 56th.
Fogg credited Rodriguez-Lopez with setting the tone, by breaking his personal record by more than 1 minute and 20 seconds this weekend. Rodriguez-Lopez said spotting Donahue and Vieyra in front of him inspired him to run his best.
“They helped me, even though they weren’t having the best race,” he said.
The Maria Carrillo girls finished seventh overall in the Division 3 race. Ashley Busienei finished in 11th, one spot off the podium.
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