El Molino's Brian Schulz, Healdsburg's Gabrielle Peterson win SCL cross-country titles

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Gabrielle Peterson capped a big day for the Healdsburg cross country team on Saturday as she won the girls race at the Sonoma County League meet at the Spring Lake course.

Peterson’s victory was the icing on the cake as the Greyhounds’ boys team took home the first-place banner with 49 points. Piner was runner-up with 54. The Prospectors had been league champs six years in a row.

“It’s a great day for the program,” coach Kelly Blanchard said. “Gabrielle ran a great race and to beat Piner, the boys team that has dominated the league, is quite an accomplishment for our runners.”

El Molino’s Brian Schulz had no problems winning the boys race in 15:25.44 and Sonoma Valley won the girls team title. The Dragons had 33 points and Piner was second with 39.

Peterson completed the 3.05 miles in 18:00.34 while Piner’s Cynthia Rosales came in second with a time of 18:37.15.

The strength of the top SCL runners is apparent. On Friday, the North Bay League meet was held at Spring Lake and the winning times were slower than those turned in by Schulz and Peterson.

Schulz was 12 seconds faster than Santa Rosa’s Luca Mazzanti and Peterson’s time was 40 seconds better than Maria Carrillo’s Aimee Armstrong.

Peterson, a sophomore, took the lead about a mile into the race and gradually pulled away from Rosales.

“The pace was strong the first mile and I stayed a little bit behind Cynthia,” Peterson said. “I ran alongside her for about a quarter-mile and then took the lead. I had to use my willpower to keep going that last mile. I could’ve gone a little faster, but no one was gaining on me.”

The boys finish was a lot closer. Schulz finished nearly 11 seconds in front of Piner’s Jonny Vargas.

Schulz eclipsed his personal best by 10 seconds and won the SCL meet for the third year in a row.

“I could’ve gone faster if I needed to,” Schulz said. “I settled into my stride the first half-mile and then took the lead. I was running comfortably, always about 50 to 75 yards in front of the runners behind me.”

Both Peterson and Schulz went undefeated against SCL opponents this year.

The two will have two weeks to recuperate. They’ll return to competition Nov. 19 in the North Coast Section championships at Hayward High School.

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