2nd Annual Jackie Henderson Memorial Preview by Coach Ibarra

-- Contributed content

We are excited to host our 2nd Annual Jackie Henderson Memorial Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, September 14th at North Monterey County High School in Castroville.

The inaugural event last year had 14 schools and has exploded in size and interest. We had to limit the meet to 50 schools to ensure a good event! In the future we may allow more schools in and may need to break up the varsity races.

We hope the event will honor Jackie Henderson who was an assistant cross country and track coach at North Monterey County who was tragically hit by a car while out on a run in the summer of 2017. This event will be held yearly on the high school campus where she taught science and coached.

The course is 3 miles and features flat grass loops, track laps in a brand new state of the art track and field stadium, and hilly loops on a newly developed dirt trail on the hills nearby. It has a mix of everything with great viewing and seating in the stadium and a very exciting stadium finish area.

Most of our teams are from the Central Coast Section and we especially welcome those from out of the area with teams from the Sac-Joaquin (Whitney, Chavez, Buhach Colony), Central (Clovis West, Orcutt Academy Charter) and Oakland (Skyline) section making the long trip.

The meet kicks off with a free 3-mile open race (8:00 am) to honor Jackie allowing everyone to lace them up. Then the middle schoolers (6th-8th grades) are invited to show up for a free/open 2 mile (8:30 am). Finally, the traditional Frosh/Soph (9:00 Girls, 9:30 Boys), Junior Varsity (10:00 Girls, 10:30 Boys), and Varsity (11:00 Girls, 11:30 Boys) races for each gender will highlight the meet.

We think this edition will have some fireworks for the boys on the team front while the girls should shine with highly ranked individuals clashing early on. We'll start with the boys as we highlight team cross country. The boys feature Central Section power Clovis West making the trip from Fresno to the Central Coast Section and they are favored to win. They are led by legendary coach Rich Parris who led Madera High to legendary performances on the old course at North Monterey County in the initial Earlybird years before that meet moved to Toro Park. He then went on to coach at Madera South and took them to even greater heights at Earlybird and state and national recognitions. The Golden Eagles return all SEVEN of their varsity runners from last year and will be featured prominently here with a team capable of less than a 30-second 1-5 spread.  They enter the season as one of the top teams to watch in all of California. But, hold on, the Whitney Wildcats also make a long trip from the Sac Joaquin Section and certainly have the squad to make them great challengers for the win! They placed 10th last year in the state in Division 2 and return SIX from that squad! They feature a lethal front two that will provide low points while their depth is impressive. They recently put on a show at the Oakmont Invitational and were just 4 points behind State power Jesuit. King City represents the top local threat and should put up quite the battle after winning here going away last year establishing a course record (81:22) on the new layout at North Monterey County. They return FIVE from a 4th place D4 state team! Scotts Valley also returns FIVE from a 7th place state meet D4 team!  On paper, King City and Scotts Valley are ones to watch for a possible state title runs in their small schools' division since they both feature a lethal front three and as their final scorers develop they could become very dangerous. Lynbrook comes in as one of the top teams in CCS D2 and hopes to close the gap to the top 4 teams here. Alisal, led by former North Monterey County runner Steve Munoz, will be pumped to run on his old stomping grounds. Other squads hoping for a shot at the top include Gunn, San Lorenzo Valley, Buhach Colony, Skyline, Santa Teresa, San Benito, Carmel, Cupertino, Greenfield, Los Gatos, and Valley Christian. 

Individually, Austin Vasquez (SR-Whitney) is our favorite with 15:48 Woodward Park and 9:15 3200 track credentials.  Esteban Deniz (SR-King City) won our inaugural event last year and holds the course record (15:48). Watch for him to dip way under that mark as he attempts to defend his title after a nice 4:20 spring mile. Austin's teammate Ethan Dodge (SR-Whitney) will tag along as long as possible. If the pace is slow, watch out for Jeremy Kain (SO-Scotts Valley) who holds the world record for the mile for 12-year-olds (4:36) set in middle school and blazed a 4:24 as a 9th grader. Hoping to break up the individual stars will be the lethal senior-heavy pack from Clovis West with Pierson Lamborn (SR), Tyler Lamborn (JR), Brayden Costales (SR), Jacob Pace (SR) and Matthew Morgan (SR) all with sub 16:45 Woodward Park marks will truly shine as a team! Their super soph Benjamin Reyes who almost broke 10:00 for 2 miles last year will also join the party and will try to displace Whitney's Jason Finta (JR), Josh Tajiri (SR), and Brenden Jacoby (SR) in what could be a thrilling team battle. Cosmo Cao (SR-Lynbrook), who had a nice spring, could move up here.  Mario Avila (JR) and Ricardo Diaz (SR) will give King City a lethal front 3. Carson Smith (SR-Santa Teresa), Justin Chiao (SR-Gunn), Brandon Johnson (SR-Santa Teresa), Will Luders (JR-Valley Christian), Mitchell Ross (SR-Scotts Valley), Jimmie Summers (JR-Buhach Colony), Cash Ebright (SO-SLV), Rigo Garcia (JR-Greenfield), and Christian Chavez (SR-San Benito) will try to break up the team led packs ahead of them. 

For the girls, Clovis West stands ready to take the win if everyone is on board. They feature a great young pack with some strong up-front leaders returning 6 girls with sub 20:00 marks at Woodward Park! Look for them to demolish the course record set last year by Hughson (103:20). Los Gatos comes in as underdogs but they could develop into the top team in all of CCS this season all divisions combined with some work! They feature 3 low sticks and as they shore up their final scorers could become quite dangerous by the end of the year. Whitney also has 3 top girls and could battle for a top 3 team placing. Leland has a dynamic duo leading them and is hoping for a state berth this year in D2. Lynbrook showed well last week and could move up for a top 3 plaque and medals here. Gunn, San Lorenzo Valley, Scotts Valley, Skyline, San Benito, Santa Teresa, Valley Christian, Cupertino, and Carmel all hope to play spoilers as well.

Individually is where the girls will shine! Melissa Cichon (JR-Leland) won CCS D2 last year and went on to an 18:07 state meet run. Watch as this CCS star takes aim at the course record (18:49) by Emily Fife (Hughson) set last year. Annika Paylor (SR-Los Gatos) will hope to inspire her top team after her nice 11:01 spring 2 mile and could upset Melissa. Gabby Hughes (SR-Santa Cruz) was sub 19:00 at Woodward and will hang on for a top finish.  Layla Ruiz (JR-Watsonville) also ran 11:01 for 2 miles and is one of the up and coming stars with very little wasted energy as she runs, watch out for her. Clovis West will put on a team running clinic with Kalei Aoki-Chance (SO), Madison Galetti (SO), Claire Bringetto (SO), Olivia Renfro (SR), Gabriella Preciado (JR), and Annaka Reed (SO) who all broke 20:00 at Woodward last year! Others to watch include Grace Lathrop (Whitney), Sofia Camacho (SR-North Salinas), Azalea Groleau  (JR-San Lorenzo Valley), Viveca Pannell (JR-Los Gatos), Clara Chirila-Rus (SR-Leland), Lucy Klarich (SO-Los Gatos), Kailea Zlatunich (SR-Aptos), Angela Leavitt (SR-Notre Dame-Salinas), Susana Estrada (JR-Aptos), Anna Weirich (JR-Harker), Cynthia Tena (10-San Benito), Cherling Padilla (JR-North Salinas), Lauren Okamoto (JR-San Benito), Andrea Villegas (JR-North Monterey County), Nellie Rubio-Pintor (FR-Ceiba), Eleanor Wikstrom (SR-Skyline), Sonia Wasserman (JR-Orcutt), Caleam Gilliam (FR-MVC), and teammates Katie Kopec (FR-Whitney) and Brooke Giorgi (SR-Whitney)

Thank you to the schools who have joined us as we honor Jackie and we hope you enjoy the meet! Scan below for a bio on Jackie, course records, and visit the website at:    

RIP Coach Jackie Henderson
July 25th, 1989-July 14th, 2017
Jacklyn was fatally struck while visiting family by an SUV while running in Huntington, NY on July 14th, 2017. She was 27 years old. A native of Huntington, Jacklyn graduated from Oyster Bay High School before attending Hunter College, where she was a three-year member of the Hawks cross country and track and field teams. A talented distance runner, Jacklyn was a member of two CUNYAC Championship cross country teams (2010 and 2011), earning first place in the conference championship meet in 2010 to take CUNYAC Runner of the Year honors. Jacklyn was a six-time Conference All-Star and helped the Hunter distance medley relay team to a CUNYAC title at the 2010-2011 Indoor Championships. She graduated from Hunter in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology, her childhood passion. She was a biology teacher and cross country and track and field coach at North Monterey County High School in Castroville, CA at the time of her passing. At North Monterey County High she quickly became one of the most popular teachers on campus. Hundreds of her students, athletes, and fellow staff members quickly became very fond of her. She had a great passion for life, adventures, travel, and making everyone she met feel complete and unconditional love. She was extremely family and friend oriented. She lived every day as if it were her last and made lasting impacts on those she has left behind. Her legacy will live on with all those she touched in life. Our heartfelt thoughts are with Jacklyn's family and friends, as well as her teammates, students, athletes, and colleagues. #RUNLIKEJACKIE

Course records on next page.