DUBLIN-For you history buffs, the Dublin Distance Fiesta started interestingly enough at Piedmont HS. After a few years, the meet moved to Cal Berkeley for one year. Then Skyline coach Chris Williams then hosted the meet before moving it to it's final destination at Dublin HS. The meet has grown every year including the past one this past Saturday with a staggering 101 teams competing.
There were many jaw-dropping moments (National leaders!) as you will see below but for now, we are going to take a look at each of the sombrero races (fastest heats) for all events.
The first high school event got underway at 8am with the 17th heat taking main event status as the sombrero heat. As with most competitive races, the pace went our fairly conservative with much of the racing saved for the second half of the race. At the finish line, Sonora senior and the Northern Arizona University bound Cassi Land scored the victory with a season-best 5:05.45. She was followed by hard-charging Maria Carrillo senior Sydnie Rivas who roared to second in the last 100 meters. Gabriela Hernandez of Vacaville wrapped up a top 3 finish and a sombrero with a season-best 5:07.97. You can view the race below.
The boys 1600m has typically been devoid of the top NorCal distance runners as many of them have chosen to pursue a super fast time in the later 8 lap event. This year, Carlmont senior Ryan Wilson had already dropped some very fast times over multiple distances. He qualified to the 2017 California State meet in the 800m with an impressive 1:52.92. He took over the lead at the end of the first lap and after relinquishing the lead multiple times finally sprinted to victory in front of Karl Winter of St. Mary's Stockton. Munir Kabbara of San Rafael led midway in the race and hung on for a third-place finish.
It's not often except for very few select meets (Stanford, Arcadia, Mt. SAC etc.) that you get two of the nation's top runners going head to head during this part of the season. That was the case on Saturday when two-time defending 800m champion Alyssa Brewer faced off against the Swiss army knife of the Santa Cruz team, Mari Friedman. Unlike many of the other top races, Brewer shot to the lead and scored the wire to wire victory over Friedman as they recorded the 1st (2:08.99) and 3rd (2:09.79) fastest times in the nation. Redwood senior Gillian Wagner cruised to a comfortable 3rd place finish before her encore performance in the 3200 later in the meet.
This race lost some of it's luster when defending California state champion Jett Charvet chose to focus on the Distance Medley Relay later in the evening. One cannot blame him as he was coming off a national championship effort the previous weekend with a new personal best of 1:50.91. Once Charvet dropped, the heavy favorite to win the race was Alex Scales of Bellarmine. He was the defending champion as well as meet record holder. Right from the gun, Merced senior John Hagerman shot to the lead with Scales in pursuit. Scales took over the lead at the 600m mark and kicked to victory with a time of 1:53.46. Bobby Poytner of California and Nixon McKenzie of Armijo rallied to 2nd and 3rd. If you get a moment, please check out Jeff Parenti's interview with John Hagerman below. What a great kid!
The girls 3200m ended up being dominated by two girls who you would not consider as aficionados of this distance. Olivia O'Keeffe of Davis ran her first ever 3200m race in her high school career. Despite her inexperience at this distance, she led the field through most of the early laps. Redwood's Gillian Wagner had run the 800m race earlier in the meet but proved to be the fastest of them all as she finished with an unofficial 5:04 second mile and 67 seconds for the last lap. Gabrielle Peterson of Healdsburg hung on gamely throughout the race and finished right behind O'Keeffe with a monster PR. If you now look at the national list, Wagner stands as #2, O'Keeffe #7 and Peterson #9.
The once again loaded boys 3200m. did not disappoint. The pace was pedestrian throughout most of the race with Robert Miranda of Menlo and Matt Strangio of Jesuit sharing lead duty. The pace gradually picked up during the last mile with Liam Anderson spurting to the lead on the second to last lap. During the final lap, it came down to Anderson, Collin Ullrich, Strangio and John Bennett. Ullrich finally made his move which was covered quickly by Anderson. At the finish line, it was the two SJS buddies, Ullrich and Strangio, just ahead of Anderson and Bennett. A great race for many runners! You can check out the race below as well as an interview with the winner. You can also find other videos and interviews at this LINK.
Boys Distance Medley Relay
This turned out to be an outstanding race when the three best runners in the field linked up for a terrific battle of kicks during the 2nd lap of the anchor leg. Ryan Wilson of Carlmont received the baton in the lead and was quickly joined by Jett Charvet of Heritage as well as Alex Scales of Bellarmine. The three raced together over the next two laps before things got really serious during the last lap. Charvet was in the lead with Scales on his shoulder and followed directly by Wilson on the inside. Scales made one move to get past Charvet on the backstretch but was unsuccessful. On the final turn, Wilson sprinted by both Charvet and Scales and held on for the win just ahead of Scales. You can check out the final lap below.
Girls Distance Medley Relay
The clear dominant team in this event were the Santa Cruz girls. By the time their ace runner Mari Friedman got the baton, Santa Cruz already had the lead and with a 4:49 unofficial mile by their anchor, the victory and new meet record were both in hand. The Gregori girls finished a very solid second before the onslaught of teams that also dipped under the 13 minute mark, Monte Vista, Lick-Wilmerding, Merced, Campolindo and Menlo. The time for the Santa Cruz girls was 12:07.58 which now ranks them #3 in the nation behind two California teams, La Costa Canyon (12:01.34) and Great Oak (12:03.64).