Benefield: Rain can't wash away competitive drive at Santa Rosa's Twilight Invitational track and field meet

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In weather more suited to rowing than running at the Santa Rosa Twilight Invitational track and field meet, local athletes put on some gutsy performances in conditions that were, uh, suboptimal at best.

The rain didn’t let up the entire meet and the temperatures were downright cold.

“We had a great day before and a great day the day after; it just seems that our Northern California meets need to have an element of swimming to them,” said Greg Fogg, coach of Maria Carrillo’s track and field team, which co-hosted Friday’s event.

“It was not an ideal track day,” said Casa Grande coach Jamie Pugh.

Still, Casa Grande junior Logan Moon had one of the big performances of the night, winning the 800-meter race in a dominating display, cementing his place among those to beat at that distance this season.

Moon started the two-lap race in what looked like a dead sprint.

“His approach to racing is, ‘If you are going to race with me, it’s going to hurt. If you want to go, you are going to have to kind of bleed with me,’ ” Fogg said.

He finished in 1:58. Daniel Rios, a junior from Napa High, finished in second in 2:02.

“Logan Moon had an outstanding, unbelievable race,” Montgomery coach Melody Karpinski said.

To look at Moon’s times last season (he finished 11th in the North Bay League with a time of 2:09), his performance could strike one as a surprise, but clearly, his pace has been building. He certainly heralded his emergence as the guy to beat when he posted a massive personal record at the Dublin Distance Fiesta on March 16.

The junior finished fifth in that race with a time of 1:56.04. Also in that race? Stanford-bound Liam Anderson, a runner who won the North Coast Section, CIF state and Nike Cross Country Nationals last fall.

“(He) has really come to life in the last couple of weeks,” Pugh said. “He’s starting to believe that he can run fast.”

Moon is currently ranked third fastest in the 800 in the North Coast Section.

Another breakout performance came from a guy who has barely had space or time to train. Montgomery senior Brent Oru-Craig returned from a hiatus from running only to deal with little track time and even less time with the hurdles, as the Vikings’ track is being resurfaced.

And still, he busted out a dominating 300-meter hurdle performance at Twilight, finishing in 39.81, good enough for the third-fastest time in the section.

“We were all kind of looking at each other like, ‘Brent is back,’ ” Karpinski said. “This is his first meet back. His performance was just unbelievable, just outstanding. By the first 100 he was ahead of the whole field. It was pretty incredible just how far ahead he was.”

Considering the wet conditions, Oru-Craig’s mark was indeed impressive. Because of the jumping element and traction, in poor conditions the hurdles are the third event to be cut from a meet after pole vault and high jump, according to Fogg.

In the sprints, Santa Rosa freshman Kassidy Schroth won both the 100- and 200-meter races, posting the sixth-fastest time in Redwood Empire history for a freshman in the 100 — 12.84. Of course, she follows in the very large footsteps of fellow Panther and current UC Davis freshman Kirsten Carter, who won last year’s Twilight 100-meter race in 12.12.

“She’s a stud,” Fogg said of the freshman. “She’s really away from everybody else.”

Her 100-meter time puts her at 17th fastest in the section and her 200 time of 26.70 places her in 15th place.

Sydney Dennis of Petaluma dominated the jumps with a leap of 15 feet, 10 inches in the long jump and 35 feet, 5.75 inches in the triple jump, which is tops in the Redwood Empire this season. Second-place marks were 14 feet, 9.5 inches in the long jump and 33 feet, 2 inches in the triple.

Dennis’ finish in the long jump was well shy of last year’s winner, but her triple jump was good enough to rank her sixth in the section.

It was a pretty good pack of who’s who finishing at the front of the boys’ 1,600-meter race. Maria Carrillo junior Rory Smail won in 4:26, ahead of Windsor senior Lucas Chung (4:28). There was barely a gap between the next three as Sonoma Academy senior Andre Williams crossed in 4:30.04, Healdsburg senior Dante Godinez in 4:30.81 and Vintage senior Emmanuel Guzman in 4:31.24.

Despite the weather, the times were barely off from last year, when Chung won the race in 4:25 and Smail came in second with a finish of 4:26.97.

A couple of names missing from that race were Maria Carrillo’s Colton Swinth and Pierce Kapustka. That junior tandem went one-two at the Dublin meet, finishes that earned them spots at the Arcadia Invitational on April 5-6. Kapustka finished in 4:22.97 and Swinth crossed in 4:23.46. The pair ranks 9th and 11th in the section, respectively.

Fogg said he is managing the balance between racing and training for those runners with the approach of the Stanford Invitational this weekend and the massive Arcadia meet in early April.

In the meantime, the three obvious contenders for the NBL-Oak Division team title will meet in a tri meet Wednesday at Santa Rosa High. The forecast for that one? Partly cloudy — and dry.

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