Sonoma Academy's Rylee Bowen wins D5 for the third time in four years. (Photo by Pat Rhames)
So many storylines, where to begin ...
** Rylee Bowen set the tone for the historic day at Woodward Park right from the very first race. The Sonoma Academy senior won the Division 5 Girls title for the third time in four years. She won as a freshman and as a sophomore. She was sixth as a junior. She is only the fifth girl in state history to win three titles in four years and eighth to win at least three times. Flintridge Prep was one of four girls teams to defend titles from 2016. Senior Sophie Gitlin (third among team-scoring runners), junior Sasha Codiga (seventh) and junior Haley Allen (ninth) led the way to the 46-point victory over runner-up San Francisco University.
** It took not one, not two, but three starts to get the Division 4 girls up the grass startway and into action. A second restart initially seemed to doom any hopes of Malibu junior Claudia Lane's assault on the course record. Shame on the fool who dares to doubt the talent and perseverance of Ms. Lane. Not only did she blow away the competition by the first mile, she shattered the course record by 10 seconds, rolling the Woodward Park 5K in 16:30.30. Whoa!!
** Equally as dominant in the D4 girls team race was Ventura Foothill Technology, a 79-point winner over Sage Creek. All five scores placed among the top 20: Junior Blythe Blakeman (sixth, 18:36.60), junior Kennedy Gomez (ninth), junior Lauren Kearney (11th), senior Olivia Burton (13th) and sophomore Gretchen Scherrei (20th, 19:21.50).
Kristin Fahy in the lead at 2 miles with Gillian Wagner (foot above) in pursuit. (Pat Rhames)
** Division 3 girls was a nice head-to-head with the top two returners from last year's final, Redwood's Gillian Wagner and La Costa Canyon's Kristin Fahy. It was Fahy he held control through most of the race, crossing the two-mile marker with an announced eight-second advantage over Wagner. But, according to reports, with about 300 meters to go, Fahy, still leading, began to feel heaviness in "her arms and legs" and collapsed. When she tried to get up, an unidentified runner bumped her and Fahy then remained down. She did not finish the race. She was treated and told reporters that not only did she feel OK, her was not yet done (an indication she plans to run Foot Locker West on Saturday). Meanwhile, Wagner took advantage of the opportunity and sprinted home with the victory, a second consecutive for a Redwood runner, following Glennis Murphy's D3 girls title last year.
Gillian Wagner is the second Redwood girl to win the D3 title in as many years. (Pat Rhames)
** Campolindo is the one team outlier among the girls champions. The North Coast Section school is the only girls team not to have won the title in 2016. Campolindo, sixth last year, was a 31-point team champion over Vista del Lago of Sac-Joaquin Section on Saturday, dropping three top scorers in places 8-20 in seniors Jenna Miles (18:43.40), Emma Overell (18:53.40) and Isabella Chao (19:24.70).
** Division 2 girls is loaded but Capistrano Valley senior Haley Herberg was the pre-race favorite who delivered. A year ago, Anaheim Canyon's Sara Leonard and Mariah Castillo of Saugus finished third and fifth, respectively, and were the top returners. Herberg was 21st. But Herberg has had an incredibly strong season and continued that Saturday, running the 5K course in 17 flat, beating runner-up Castillo by 15.70 seconds and third-place Leonard by 34.60 seconds. Led by junior Sydney Hwang (seventh in 18:12.00), Claremont defended its title, outscoring perennial contender Saugus by 31 points. Senior Tess Rounds (eighth, 18:18.90), sophomore Azalea Segura-Mora (14th, 18:36.30), junior Kalinda Reynolds (17th, 18:39.40) and freshman Angela Gushue (23rd, 18:48.60) scored for Claremont, which earned an automatic bid to Nike Cross Nationals.
Haley Herberg (272) leads the D2 girls pack at the 1 mile mark. (Pat Rhames)
** Davis senior Olivia O'Keefe was the defending champion and looking to make it four O'Keefe titles in five years. But she wasn't able to match the 2013-14 back-to-back titles of sister Fiona, placing 11th, 30 seconds behind last year's 17:29 winning time. Instead, it was a 1-2 Buchanan finish with sophomore Corie Smith taking the title in 17:16.70 with junior teammate Meagen Lowe running second in 17:19.80. That was certainly a moment when it appeared as if Buchanan would pull off the huge upset in the team battle with Great Oak. But the Wolfpack girls were not to be denied, beating Buchanan by 32 points to win a sixth consecutive title and seventh in eight years. To do it, Great Oak got a fourth-place finish from Southern Section champion Fatima Cortes (17:32.10), sophomore Tori Gaitan was sixth (17:35.90), senior Sandra Pflughoft was ninth (7th among team scorers in 17:55.70), sophomore Audrey Dang was 17th (among team-scoring runners) and sophomore Arianna Griffiths was 37th. Pflughoft, by the way, joined Kiyena Beatty as the only two Great Oak girls to ever run on four consecutive state title teams.