Empire notebook: Piner running great Luis Luna can still deliver

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The guy who owns the second-fastest-ever time on the Viking Opener two-mile course and the fastest time ever for the Spring Lake 3.05-mile cross country course made a homecoming of sorts Saturday. Piner grad and running great Luis Luna donned his Piner singlet to race the 35-year-old event’s coaches/alumni event. And yes, he won.

Luna’s record for the 3.05-mile course is 14:43 and was set in 2011 and hasn’t been touched since. He ran a 9:46 at the 2011 2-mile Viking Opener. His time Saturday: 10:12.

“I forgot how hard it is running in Spring Lake. Hard,” he said. “College is pretty much flat, on grass. This was different, this hurt.”

It might have hurt, but Luna was all smiles after the race that drew scores of alumni and a good number of coaches who were leading their teams at the Viking Opener meet.

“Oh man it’s amazing, bringing back so many memories,” he said. “Every year at Piner was amazing. I’m really proud to wear this jersey and to win the alumni race.”

Local legend Cathy Dubay was the fastest woman on the course Saturday, and she, too, was wearing her Piner jersey. She won in 13:02.

Bear Cubs have crucial soccer contest Saturday

The Santa Rosa Junior College men’s soccer team has a huge test Saturday when it takes on visiting Fullerton. The Bear Cubs, 4-1, have had little problem scoring goals this season, racking up an average of more than five goals per game. But the 3-2-1 Fullteron Hornets are giving up barely more than one goal per contest. Kickoff is 11 a.m. Saturday. High school players and coaches will be admitted without charge if they are wearing their team jersey, according to head coach Marty Kinahan. The Bear Cubs travel to San Francisco City College Sept. 24 before their Big 8 Conference home opener against Modesto at 11 a.m. Sept. 27.

Aggies honor Healdsburg great Sarah Sumpter

The University of California at Davis cross country team honored one of the program’s all-time greats, Healdsburg High grad Sarah “Stump” Sumpter, with the first-ever running of the Stump Invitational cross country meet on Sept. 13.

Sumpter, a 2012 All-American and Big West Conference Athlete of the Year in both cross country and track, died in 2015, five years after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

As a ’Hound, Sumpter was a CIF state cross country champ and a Foot Locker All-American. After her diagnosis, Sumpter returned to competition, running to three All-Big West Conference finishes in cross country. In track she broke Davis’s 29-year-old 10,000-meter record in her win at the Big West Conference championship. She also won the 5,000-meter race at that meet.

Fittingly, two locals notched solid finishes at the first-ever Stump Invitational. Class of 2019 Analy grad Sierra Atkins, running for Davis, finished ninth on the 6,000-meter course in 22:24. Windsor High grad and St. Mary’s freshman Lucas Chung took 18th place in 25:20 over 8,000 meters.

VVAL volleyball race heats up

The race for supremacy in the Vine Valley Athletic League volleyball race ought to shake out some in the coming days. The 11-1 Petaluma Trojans were 1-0 in league heading into Tuesday’s contest with American Canyon (2-3 overall, 0-2 VVAL). Up next is a showdown Thursday at Vintage (7-3 overall, 1-0 VVAL). On Tuesday at 4 p.m., the Trojans host their rivals, the Gauchos of Casa Grande (3-5 overall, 2-1 VVAL).

Carrillo dominates in Martinez

Maria Carrillo’s cross country squad put on a show at the Ed Sias Invitational at Hidden Valley Park in Martinez Saturday. On the boys side, seniors Colton Swinth and Rory Smail finished first and second in their race over the 2-mile course in 10:20 and 10:22, respectively. Those were the two fastest times of the day.

Seniors Pierce Kaputska and Omar Alvarez-Hernandez crossed in 10:35 and 10:37, respectively. Carrillo runners accounted for six of the top 20 finishers on the day. On the girls side, senior Jasmin Hurth posted the sixth-fastest time of the day, crossing in 12:48, while junior Nicole Morris finished in 13:05.

Harper McClain, a junior from St. Helena, raced to an 11:40 finish — 27 seconds faster than any other time on the day. It was the ninth-fastest time ever in that meet. Ahead of her on that list? Montgomery’s Sara (Bei) Hall in 1999 with an 11:29 and Montgomery’s Julie Nacouzi with an 11:34 in 2009.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud, “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”

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