Cross country notebook: Highlights from NCS championships
HAYWARD — With scores of local runners competing at the North Coast Section cross country championships at Hayward High School on Saturday, there were loads of great stories. Here are some highlights:
New record is all McClain’s
St. Helena junior Harper McClain ran totally alone in the penultimate race of the day — that is, until she started lapping people. Then she suddenly was racing with others again. McClain did what she was expected to do — she won the Division 5 title, earned a berth to the state meet and she took down the Division 5 course record in the process.
At the start of the day, the record was 17:09, but by 1 p.m. it was 17:03. For perspective? The second-place finisher crossed in 18:01. Coming up? She’s hoping to break 17 minutes on the state course. “It’s really nice to know that all the work I have been putting in is starting to pay off,” she said.
Gauchos do it by committee
The Casa Grande High boys team is loaded. They know it. But a couple of injuries struck this season and suddenly their campaign to compete at the CIF state championships in Fresno started to show signs of a roller coaster ride. Not on Saturday. The Gauchos roared to a third-place finish in the loaded Division 3 race and secured a team berth to the state meet at Woodward Park in Fresno in a week. The Gauchos nipped Tamalpais High by one point 145 to 146 and Northgate High was at 151 to take fifth — just out of the running to make the state meet.
“We’ve been on the other end of some of those battles. It feel really good to be on the winning side,” Gauchos coach Carl Triola said.
Junior Luke Baird was the top finisher for Casa, coming through at 16:07 for 20th place. Senior Logan Moon was a second behind him in 22nd place.
“They are all stepping up at certain times,” Triola said. “We’ve had different kids being our No. 1 runner throughout the season, it wasn’t one guy that was always there, and they have all just managed to step up when we needed them. And today it was Luke Baird that just ran out of his mind and it was just fantastic.”
Briceno finally gets state spot
The heartstrings story of the day had to be Montgomery senior Mariah Briceno’s race to the state meet. Readers might remember that last year the section meet was canceled mid-meet because of poor air quality from the wildfires in Butte County. Half the races weren’t run and entry to the state meet was decided by committee. That committee decided Briceno’s times weren’t good enough. There were plenty of local run-watchers who disagreed, but that’s how it ended. On Saturday, Briceno took away any doubt that she belonged, running to an 11th-place finish in 18:25 and snagging the final individual Division 3 spot for next Saturday.
“Honestly, it means so much to me,” she said. “Last year, we couldn’t race because of the fires and it made me more aggressive toward, you know, I want to make it to state this year and I know that I have the potential to make it.”
Freshman sprints to state berth