This Saturday, one of the top meets in the East Bay will take place in Concord, California. The 2016 De La Salle/Carondelet Nike Invitational will once again take place at Newhall Park which has been the host course for this invitational since the first year in 1995. The course has remained the same except for 2013 when it rained causing the varsity boys to use an alternate course due to safety concerns. Blair Hurlock battled the conditions and Steven Sum of Saratoga HS to win in 13:56. The photo below is during the varsity girls race that preceded the boys race courtesy of the Monta Vista HS cross country website.
COURSE RECORDS (Top 10 times that have been run on the course all-time)
1) Blair Hurlock De La Salle 14:59 2013
2) Ben Sitler St. Francis 15:02 2005
3) Jake Schmitt Redwood 15:04 2004
4) Chris Foster Los Gatos 15:09 2014
5) Micheil Jones Livermore 15:12 1995
6) Michael Vernau Davis 15:12 2015
7) Nate Beach Acalanes 15:15 2007
8) Ryan Lewis Ygnacio Valley 15:17 2004
9) Matt Schumann De La Salle 15:17 2013
10) Chris Horel Christian Brothers Academy 15:20 2004
1) Fiona O'Keeffe Davis 16:41 2015
2) Julia Stamps Santa Rosa 16:46 1996
3) Sara Bei Montgomery 17:06 1998
4) Kristen Gordon Carondelet 17:14 1996
5) Megan McCandless Granada 17:16 2015
6) Brooke Starn Monte Vista 17:32 2015
7) Carrie Verdon Campolindo 17:44 2010
8) Nicole Hood Carondelet 17:53 2007
9) Sofia Castiglioni Davis 17:54 2015
10) Kristen Leung Lowell 17:56 2015
FIVE RUNNERS TO WATCH
1) On the boy's side, Michael Vernau (Kirby Lee photo above from 2016 CA state track 3200 final) will be joining the Davis girls' team at this invitational competing as an individual. He currently holds the 6th fastest time on the course and Blair Hurlock's course record will very much be the target on Saturday. Vernau has already recorded two lifetime best times this season at the Lagoon Valley Classic (15:07 course record) and the Jesuit/Davis Jamboree (14:52.4). He is a fearless front runner who can run very fast times with no challengers.
2) Sofia Castiglioni ran in the shadow of Fiona O'Keeffe for the past three seasons but the Davis senior is now the unquestioned leader of the Blue Devils. After their epic battles last XC season with Great Oak and finishing 2nd at the California state meet and NXN, Davis is back to try to duplicate if not surpass last season's success. Castiglioni won her first race of the season at the Lagoon Valley Classic with a winning time of 18:18 on the rugged course.
3) Jesuit freshman Matt Strangio impressed quite a few people this past Saturday as he finished in 5th place in the boys varsity race at the Jesuit/Davis Jamboree. Finishing 5th in a varsity race is impressive enough but Strangio also ran 15:28 on the 3.08 mile course which is tremendous for a 9th grader. He also won the Golden West 1600 this past June running 4:42.12. He opened up this cross country season winning the freshman race at the Lagoon Valley Classic in 11:12 (above courtesy of Thomas Benjamin). His father Steve, ran for Mission San Jose in the late 70s and was the NorCal Runner of the Year.
During the pre-season, the best cross country team in Northern California, based on their returning runners, was clearly Bellarmine in San Jose. After finishing in 6th place at the California state Division I race (just 1 point behind 5th place), the Bells continued to shine on the track with winning CCS efforts in the 800 (Ben Micallef) and the 1600 (Matt Richardson). Anyone who has ever watched Bellarmine dominate cross country meets can attest to their depth but this might be the season that they can really roll with the big dogs in Division I at the California state meet. Just ahead of Bellarmine at the 2015 state meet was 3rd place Jesuit. The Marauders finished behind the first (Great Oak) and third place (Dana Hills) teams from NXN. They had an outstanding group of seniors and this appeared to be a rebuilding year for longtime coach Walt Lange. With the sudden emergence of Strangio as well as senior leaders Brendan Jones and Ben Holland, Jesuit can definitely compete with any team up front. That means that the varsity team battle between Bellarmine and Jesuit could be very interesting and one that will be staged multiple times throughout the season. On a side note, Bellarmine coach Patrick McCrystle ran for Walt Lange at Jesuit in the early 80s with a best in the 800 meters of 1:50.70.
You can check out the list of participating teams on the meet website at this LINK.
LIVE RESULTS courtesy of redcaptiming.com
MAP OF THE COURSE (Courtesy of Jesuit coach, Walt Lange)