Double success for Sonoma Academy, Maria Carrillo at NCS cross country championships
HAYWARD — For the two teams that qualified for the CIF cross country state championship meet next weekend in Fresno, expectations were met despite a bevy of surprises along the way.
Sonoma Academy and Maria Carrillo high schools will be sending both their boys and girls cross country teams to the state meet.
It’s the first time in school history that Sonoma Academy will be sending both teams to state.
“We’re excited,” coach Danny Aldridge said. “It’s a first for Sonoma Academy, getting two teams to state. I came here a while ago to kind of try and build a program. It’s taken a little bit, but now we got it in place and hopefully, year after year, we’ll keep being able to do this.”
Carrillo’s result was a bit more surprising for coach Greg Fogg, who expected to get into state and was happy with the overall result, but felt the team didn’t have its best day on the course.
“We ran a little flat today,” Fogg said. “We aren’t supposed to run fourth; we’re gunning for second or first. We expect to go every year. We’ve got a culture of ‘We expect this.’”
What may be unexpected for some in the Redwood Empire is seeing Sonoma Academy’s Rylee Bowen finish in second place, but that’s exactly what happened in the Division 5 girls race.
Keira Marshall of St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) pulled away slowly after the first mile and didn’t look back, winning by a little over 30 seconds.
“From the beginning, the pace was kind of quick,” Bowen said. “ … I started to lose her maybe around mile two. I dropped from there … I’m happy for her. That’s a really good time for her. I know how hard she’s been working for this.”
That’s a sentiment that was reiterated by Marshall’s coach, Tony Fong, who said that Marshall’s consecutive second-place finishes to Bowen in the past two years at state and in last year’s NCS meet certainly were motivation.
“She hates to lose,” Fong said. “ … She used Rylee as a way to help push her to run faster.”
Marshall said she’s glad she didn’t finish second to Bowen again.
“It feels good. It’s nice that I can look at how far I’ve come and all the training I’ve done and see that I’ve improved each year to get here,” Marshall said. “It was just a combination of me putting in more effort and just trying a lot harder at practices and everything.”
Fong said Marshall gained confidence she and Bowen competed at the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic meet in Irvine in September. In that race, Marshall beat Bowen by 36 seconds and finished in under 17 minutes. Marshall finished in 17:08 Saturday.
“That kind of gave her the confidence that she could run in the lead or in the front pack,” Fong said.
“Before, she was just kind of hanging back, hanging back. No matter who was in first, she would just hang back. But now, she’s learned to really take charge and get up there — run her race for the first mile, which is around 5:35, 5:40 pace — and just let it go,” he said.