We knew coming in that the 20th Anniversary edition of the North Monterey County Earlybird would be special. Why wouldn’t the 20th be the best of all?! We had the best line-up ever and the most teams and runners ever. Good weather, a crowd pleasing DJ, an anniversary cake (thanks Jen!), a superstar awards’ announcer, a first class snack shack (thanks parents!), and vendors galore created the perfect storm and the kids delivered. A very nice touch was the presence of Bruce White who started this event 20 years back with 3 teams. He even had the original meet shirt on. And starting the races was Daniel Tapia who ran at the World Championships in the marathon last year for the USA and will shoot for a spot in the Olympic marathon team in 2016. He is a 2004 graduate of host North Monterey County.
The open race kicked off the day with a great turnout to kick off the day. The “low key” middle school race was not low key with about 300 anxious harriers getting a beautiful introduction to the sport! We may have to cap that race soon!
The 9th grade girls kicked off the main event in fine style with 3 new STARS! Caroline Gee (Cupertino) got her 1st Earlybird win in a very impressive 18:25 run and just missing the top 25 all-time Toro rankings by a mere 2 seconds! Elene Kamas (Homestead) just helped make them very, very dangerous in 2014 with a nice 18:27 runner-up effort. And Mari Friedman (Santa Cruz) made it 3 stars with an 18:30 run. THREE 9th graders at 18:30 or faster?! The bar was set high early on. Los Gatos just got a very nice shot in the arm for them with their youngsters getting the team win, a plaque, and medals with 68 pts. St. Ignatius (119) and Lynbrook (141) got the other medals.
The young 9th grade boys had some stars on our radar and they didn’t disappoint. Alex Sales (Bellarmine) came in as the top ranked 9th grader in CA and didn’t disappoint with his first high school win. 16:26 for the young pup is just a glimpse of what he’ll do as he develops. His teammate Meikael Beaudoin-Ro (Bellarmine) almost got the upset win at 16:27 and makes that a huge 1-2 punch for them. Jorge Estrella (Andrew Hill) was only 4 ticks back in 16:31 for a nice 1-3 showing to match the young ladies. Bellarmine would start their plaque haul with 55 pts. followed by Cupertino (155) and Carmel (170).
Our 10th grade girls had Lindsey Allen (Homestead) trying to match the 9th grade times and was just a tad back at 18:38 for her first Earlybird win. Annika McBride (Aptos) settled for 2nd (19:01) and Abbey Meck (SLV) was third (19:28). Our 3 team favorites held to form although Los Altos (97) got the best of St. Ignatius (103) and Los Gatos (106) this year after a Los Gatos win last year.
Our 10th grade boys had superstar Miguel Villar (Madera South) as the top 9th grader in CA last year and he wanted a 2nd Earlybird win. He got it easy as he blasted a solo 15:39. We need to take that to Vegas as we called a sub 15:40 potential effort! The time ranks as one of the best ever sophomore times at Toro and puts him just outside the top 25 all time. He started what would be a magical day for the Stallions. Michael Ochoa (Madera South-16:06) made it a 1-2 sweep and Dylan Doblar (Bellarmine) was 3rd at 16:39. Bellarmine got their 2nd but closest win of the day at 48 points with Madera South only 2 points back. San Lorenzo Valley got 3rd with 164 pts.
The 11th graders got a bit of a sun break but temperatures didn’t rise too much. Lauren Jacob (Los Altos) was a no go here and Cate Ratliff (Santa Cruz) took advantage and rolled to a very nice 18:07 effort! Cate now looks like an all-state contender and moves to #14 all-time at Toro. Nice job with the top time of the day! Jaqueline Escalera (Fremont-18:41) had a great bounce back day as she was 2nd after a win two years back. And Matti Peoples (18:46) helped key the great Aptos day. Scotts Valley impressed with the win (79) followed by Homestead (100) and Monta Vista (122).
The 11th grade boys wanted to join the all-time Toro record busting game and got it with Eduardo Herrera (Madera South) blasting a solo 15:29! The win is his 3rd Earlybird title and here’s hoping next year he takes a shot at the course record of 15:02! The time moves him to 18th all-time at the park. Ben Zaesk (Los Atlos) looked good at 16:09 while Daniel Ambriz (Merced) surprised at 16:14. Bellarmine started getting greedy with their 3rd win at 65 pts. while St. Ignatius (84) and Homestead (165) also got some hardware.
The senior girls’ race is bitter sweet as the veterans take the course for their last Earlybird. Jenny Xu (Monta Vista) is a meet veteran with 2 wins as a 9th and 10th grader. After a 2nd place finish last year she wanted another trophy for her mantle and she got it stopping the clock at 18:44! Julia Chang (Monta Vista) wanted to make it a team party and did it at 19:10. Cecily Johnson (Los Gatos) wrapped up her Earlybirds nicely at 19:22. With the 1-2 punch Monta Vista got the plaque with 57 points and locals Salinas surprised at 2nd with 75 points while Los Gatos showed well again at 119.
Lastly, the senior boys brought the heat on and off the course and looked like a true race with 10 guys packed tightly at the half way point. The famous Toro hills would separate the men from the boys. Steven Sum (Saratoga) would prove his toughness as he blasted the 2nd half of the race for a very nice 15:26 good for #12 all-time at Toro and making him one very tough favorite for the state meet! The time would be the fastest of the day as the best was saved for last as Steven notched his 2nd Earlybird title. Steven led a parade of great efforts as Chris Foster (Los Gatos) would come up just shy of his 3rd Earlybird win in 15:36 only 2 seconds outside the top 25 all-time at the park. Congrats Steven and Chris on 2 titles a piece! Alex Sasser (Bellarmine) in 15:49 made it yet another Bell in the top 3 in their race.
Overall, we thought the boys looked much better on paper coming in but the ladies proved otherwise as Aptos (96:43) would roll to a team record by 10 seconds at #4 all-time at Toro! The top team overall in CCS pre-season rankings is well on their way to a fine 2014 campaign. Homestead (97:47) would set a team record also for them and moves them into the top 10 ever at #9. Monta Vista (97:52) joined the party and just missed their team record by 18 seconds. Clovis West (100:32) showed well to break up the CCS party while Los Gatos (100:51) would seal the top 5 today.
The boys had some juggernaut Division 1 programs locking horns early on. Madera South and Bellarmine have put on a great show for fans the last few years here and 2014 indeed was icing on the cake. Madera South was just ranked 1st in all of California by DyestCal.com and is well on their way to a potential 2nd podium finish at state after their 2nd place last year. The Stallions rolled to an 80:17 team time record good for #3 all-time at Toro. That’s easily the fastest we have ever seen at Toro in September. Watch out CA! The Stallions are the real deal. Bellarmine proved their depth and class at 80:51 just 8 seconds off their team record. With their depth (it’s quite incredible) watch for the Bells to develop into plaque contenders come November in Fresno. Los Gatos (82:08), King City (83:06), and St. Ignatius (83:27) made noise and will shake up lots of rankings this season.
Special thanks to all of our parents and volunteers! We hope you enjoyed the meet and we will see you all in 2015!