Benefield: Maria Carrillo runners still have lofty goals
No team has run faster.
The Maria Carrillo High boys’ cross country team has made no bones about their ambitions for a run at the Division 3 CIF State Cross Country Championship title, but they have also made no secret of their desire to knock off the eight-year-old team record for the 3.05-mile Spring Lake course.
Mission accomplished on the latter. We have two weeks to wait and see what they can do on the former.
The Pumas beat the 2011 Piner Prospectors’ team time of 76:59 by two seconds Friday en route to a dominating team win for the North Bay League-Oak Division crown. Pumas took all but two of the top seven spots, with senior Colton Swinth posting a massive personal best of 15:04 for the win, followed by Carrillo seniors Rory Smail with a 15:21 and Pierce Kapustka with a 15:23.
“We were really gunning for that,” Pumas coach Greg Fogg said of the record. “They accomplished what they wanted to do today. That is a bar that was set very high. I have huge (admiration) and respect for Luis (Rosales’s) team of 2011 that set that.”
That team had one Luis Luna, the fastest prep runner to ever take on that course, running it in 14:43 as a senior. But the Pumas have more speed deeper in their lineup than those ’11 Prospectors. Piner coach Luis Rosales, the guy who also coached the record-setting team, said Pumas are just stacked.
“It wasn’t a soft record,” he said. “They are very talented. I wasn’t surprised at all.”
He likened being there to watch it fall to watching history being made.
The fact that so many Pumas ran at the front and no team could really challenge them as a group made their achievement Friday even more impressive, Rosales said.
“It was all them,” he said. “With less competition they got it done, which is pretty darned impressive.”
In the league race for the varsity boys’ banner, Santa Rosa came in second in league and Piner came in third. The NBL-Redwood squads are scheduled to duke it out on the same course Saturday.
But no one will come close to the Pumas’ dominance or Swinth’s pace.
Swinth’s time was nearly a minute faster than his prior best on the course. When he crossed the line and saw 15:04, he said “I honestly didn’t believe it.”
He had “home” written in ink on his forearm.
“Last race here in town so put it on for the team, put it on for the all the family members and friends out here to watch us. Home field advantage, I guess,” he said.
And his run was crucial to the Pumas getting the course record.
“We did it,” he said. “It means a lot. We were saying before the race this is probably one of the best teams, I mean, it is the best team to ever come through Carrillo teamwise, whether it comes down to friends or times. Putting that all together, we weren’t going to leave the area with all of our senior class graduating without getting that Piner record so it feels great.”
Omar Alvarez-Hernandez of Carrillo took fourth in 15:28, Santa Rosa junior Andrew McKamey took fifth in 15:36, Carrillo’s Patrick Philip took sixth in 15:38 and Jack Vanden Heuvel of Healdsburg was seventh in 15:40.