We interrupt the football coverage for a look at another sport.

On most Saturday autumn days, you could pretty much guarantee my day would be football related.    If it wasn’t for another set of developments, I would have gone to the Sonoma Valley-Piner football game.   I figured it would be a pretty good football game and it turned out to be.

As most parents know, any plans that are made can be changed at a moment notice because of something to do with the kids.  My normal Saturday plans were changed, although it wasn’t a sudden change, it was on the agenda for some time. 

I have a daughter who is a sophomore at Santa Rosa High School (don’t ask me how that happened so fast).   She went to Santa Rosa Middle School and towards the end of eighth grade she came home and surprised her parents by announcing that she would be trying out for the Santa Rosa High Cross Country team.  I thought this would be a fifteen minute attempt and things would be back to normal.   

Well it has turned out to much more than that.  She has stuck with it.  Earlier this year as a JV, she actually won a race and that got her promoted to the Varsity level.   She scored her first Varsity points in a meet in Ukiah last Wednesday.   She isn’t close to the best runners in the area, but look out North Bay.

Jodi Winning Her JV Race
Jodi Winning Her JV Race

Okay let’s stop acting the proud parent and get back to Saturday.   The event on the schedule was the Castro Valley Cross Country Trojan Invitational, an event that has been going on since 1993.  I know this because they have a yearbook that they could have charged a couple a bucks for if they wanted to, but were giving it away for nothing.  

The event was held at Canyon Middle School in Castro Valley.   This middle school isn’t your run of the mill middle school.  There is more parking at this Middle School, then at any of the high school in this area. 

According to the program there were 43 schools at the event, so despite the extra parking, finding a space wasn’t easy.

You can see more of this event than most Cross Country fields.  The race starts on the football field (yes this middle school has a football field) and runs through some hills that can be seen from the ground floor.

The 43 schools included Casa Grande, Petaluma, Windsor and of course Santa Rosa.  Other local schools have participated in this even before.  I know this because the school names are all over the record books.  Other schools include from Division 1 (Large Schools) De La Salle to the Division 5 world of Head Royce. 

The event had ten races, with the first one starting at 9 am with the coaches/alumni race.  That would be followed by Junior High, Frosh, Frosh-Soph combined, Varsity and Junior Varsity, Girls and Boys in each division.  

We arrived at around 9:30 and after getting parked got their in time for the announcements of the 10:05 Boys Frosh Race.  Before each race there would be an announcement which included the event record and defending champion.  The record for this event was set in 2000 and it was a dead heat.  I thought that in my experience of cross country, which is in its second year, I have seen some close finishes, but nothing close to a dead heat and to have a dead heat be a meet record is something special.  That was followed by who was in the dead heat.  The first one was Montgomery’s Matt Fitch.  I thought, cool a local runner in the record books.  The second runner was JK Withers of Cardinal Newman.  I just shook my head and said wow.  As a veteran of Montgomery-Cardinal Newman rivalry, including a pretty good football game two weeks ago, what a local touch to this event to have those two schools have a dead heat in a race that is the meet record.

Another local touch was the starter whose name is Bob Shor.  If you go to most any cross country meet or track and field meet in the area, you know Bob Shor.   You might not know his name, but you know his voice, because he is the starter at almost every event.  He was also the starter at this event, that’s all ten races with the first one starting at 9 am and the last one at 1 pm.

One thing I have learned from following Cross Country is that the local area has some pretty good teams.  They do quite well in a regional tournament like this.  This one was no different, even though the area’s best boys and girls teams, which is Maria Carrillo (Casa Grande would argue with that, see why lower) wasn’t in this event.

The star team was Campolindo.  The worst finish they had in the seven high school events was fifth in the Girls-Frosh race.  The team took first in three events, second in one and third in two others. 

You need five runners to qualify for the team score.  No local teams had enough runners in every event and how many teams qualified for the team scoring, varied from event to event. 

For example the Boys Varsity race had twenty four complete teams, The Girls JV had ten.  That doesn’t mean that a school that didn’t have enough can’t participate, they just can’t score team points.   There were at least 100 runners in every race.

In the Boys Varsity, Campolindo’s Alden Goltra won the three mile race in 15:43 which is the second fastest time on this course.   He missed the record by :18 second which was set in 1984 (yes the course records, even when done before this tournament, were in that program).

The second place finisher in the Boys Varsity was Matt Salazar of Casa Grande, with Zach Price of Windsor finishing eighth.

Casa Grande's Matt Salazar finished second in Varsity Race
Casa Grande’s Matt Salazar finished second in Varsity Race

As teams Casa Grande finished third, Santa Rosa fifth and Windsor in 11th. 

One race that Campolindo didn’t win as a team was won by Santa Rosa and that was the Boys JV.  Felix Herbst won the race with the seventh fastest time in course history.  Teammate Aden Homes finished seventh.   Casa Grande’s Stanley Goto finished sixth.  They had three runners in the race, so they didn’t qualify for the team event.

The most dominating race of the dominating day for Campolindo was the Girls Varsity.  They had six runner finish in the top nine.   The team points are scored by the top five runners of a team, but you can have as many as seven and might need them.  Just because a runner starts a race, doesn’t mean they finish.  There might be an injury along the way or the runner just might poop out.   I get pooped out just looking at some of those hills.  I have actually walked part of the course at Spring Lake and think, people run this thing.  Anyway if the runner doesn’t finish, they can’t score for the team, so having back up is adviceable.

One of the runners who snuck in the top ten in the Girls Varsity race despite all that Campolindo was Delaney White of Santa Rosa who finished seventh.   Just in case you are wondering and I know you are, Jodi Pasquini finished in 44th out of the 108 in the race and helped Santa Rosa to a ninth place finish.  She finished about five minutes behind the winner, who had the fourth fastest of all time.  The fastest belongs to Jacque Taylor of Casa Grande, who won the event in 2008 and the third fastest was run in 2000 by Montgomery’s Sara Bei.

Santa Rosa wasn’t the highest local team in the Girls Varsity.  That honor belongs to Casa Grande who finished in second and had all seven runners finish in the top 50, two juniors, four sophomores and one freshman.

There was a time in the late around the turn of the century that two local schools dominated the Girls Varsity in this event winning four of five years.  Santa Rosa won it twice in 1997 and 1998 and then after a year break Montgomery took it in 2000 and 2001.

Santa Rosa’s Trina Cox won the individual title in 1998, which would be unofficially be the sixth fastest time in event history.  It is unofficial because the year before she had a better time, which is No. 5, but the list only has each person’s best.   Cox didn’t win with her better time.  Sarah Bei of Montgomery won it that year and then improved on her time in 2000 with the third best time in the event’s history.

Those runs, how good they are, doesn’t compare with Jacque Taylor of Casa Grande who won from three straight seasons from 2006-2008.   Her run in 2008 is the best ever in the event.  Her runs in 2006 and 2007 would be No. 5 and 6.

The reason Casa Grande might debate Maria Carrillo being the best team in the area is because of the first league meet between each other last Wednesday.  It was a three team event that included Windsor.  There aren’t very many ties in these team events, but both the Boy and Girl races ended in a tie.  The tie-breaker is who has the sixth best runner which Maria Carrillo had both of.  Those two teams will see each other in the North Bay League playoffs, which are on November 8th at Spring Lake.

Between now and then the regular season league race plays out.   The local home is Spring Lake and you would be surprised (at least I was) how many people show up for them.  A Cross Country event isn’t really that fan friendly because you only get to see bit and pieces of the race.  It is like getting an updates, how often you actually see the runners.

We will resume the football portion of this page soon including the details of Sonoma Valley’s fourth quarter rally to defeat Piner 32-30.

My email address is jacpasquini@comcast.net