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Empire notebook: St. Helena junior Harper McClain shines at Fresno cross country meet

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St. Helena junior Harper McClain continues to put her stamp on the running scene, this time in her first-ever season of cross country.

McClain ran a 17:10 on the 5K course at Woodward Park in Fresno Saturday — a time that puts her among the elite in Redwood Empire running. According to local running record keeper Jim Crowhurst’s site redwoodempirerunning.com, the only local girls who have run faster on that course are Santa Rosa High grad Julia Stamps, who posted a 16:43 in 1996 and Ukiah’s Amber Trotter, who ran a 16:55 in 2001. McClain’s time is the second fastest ever for a Division 5 runner — she’s second only to the legendary Jordan Hasay, who ran a 17:02 on the same course. The fact that McClain’s phenomenal race was good enough for third place on the day points to the extraordinary depth in girls prep running.

Also at Fresno, the Maria Carrillo boys raced to the fastest team time a Redwood Empire school has ever put together on the course that since 1987 has been used for the CIF state cross country championship. Senior Colton Swinth led the charge with a 15:33 and a 24th-place finish Saturday and senior Rory Smail finished in 15:36 for 28th place. Swinth’s time puts him at 10th fastest all-time at Woodward and Smail moves up to 13th on the all-time Redwood Empire list.

When put next to the results from the Division 3 state meet last fall, Swinth’s time would have netted him a fifth-place finish and Smail’s an eighth-place finish. And they are only getting faster — Swinth ran that course in 16:01 at last year’s finals and Smail crossed in 15:52.

Piner’s Isack continues to rack up the stats — and wins

Piner’s quarterback Yonaton Isack is not only putting up massive numbers locally, his stats put him in the upper echelon in the state, according to stats compiled by MaxPreps. His 2,309 passing yards on the season rank eighth in the state and his completion percentage — he hits his mark 73% of the time — is better than all but one quarterback ranked higher on the yardage list. He has thrown for 39 touchdowns — no quarterback in California has thrown for more.

Former Carrillo teammates honored in same week

Two former Pumas who were standouts on Maria Carrillo’s girls soccer team are continuing to shine in college. Brooke Dunbar and Claire Howard, both 2016 Carrillo grads, were honored as Big Sky Conference players of the week this week — one offensive and one defensive. Dunbar, a senior at Eastern Washington, was named Offensive Player of the Week after scoring twice against Idaho State on Friday. Howard — who recorded three saves in Montana’s 1-0 win over Northern Arizona on Friday and four saves (including a penalty kick) in Montana’s tie with Southern Utah on Sunday — was named Defensive Player of the Week for the third time in her career. Howard, a redshirt junior, is one shutout away from taking over Montana’s all-time record of 23 games without allowing a goal. The Big Sky record is 29.

Sugarman repeats at mountain bike nationals

Xander Sugarman, a 2017 grad of Santa Rosa High and now a junior and mechanical engineering major at the University of Colorado, successfully defended his USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Championship short track cross country title in Snow Summit on Saturday. Sugarman also took second in the cross country race on Friday and finished second in the individual omnium with 177 points to winner Ian Blythe of Colorado School of Mines’ 193. The Buffs of Colorado dominated the weekend of racing and defended their national team title.

Frost gallops again

Frost did it again. One week after his 439-yard rushing performance against El Molino, the Santa Rosa High senior galloped for 305 yards against the Panthers’ rival, Montgomery, on Friday night. Frost, in his first year ever of football, carried the ball 36 times for the Panthers, averaging more than 8 yards per carry. He scored four touchdowns (he scored six against El Molino) and his longest run of the night was for 80 yards. With their 55-35 win — their third straight — the Panthers moved to 3-5 overall and 2-0 in the North Bay League-Redwood Division.

Cardinals in control of Oak Division volleyball

Cardinal Newman volleyball has simply rolled through North Bay League-Oak Division play this season. The Cardinals are now 21-4 overall and 6-0 in league. They have dropped only three sets in league — one to Carrillo and two to rival Montgomery on Oct. 8. The Vikings gave the Cardinals their biggest test of league play, but Newman eventually prevailed 23-25, 23-25, 25-17, 25-18 and 18-15. But it’s Maria Carrillo and Windsor who have emerged as the next closest contenders, with both teams playing to 4-2 records heading into Tuesday night’s contests.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield.

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