The Bellarmine boys head over the hill at the Crystal Springs course during the Division I race at the CIF-Central Coast Section Championships at Belmont. (Photo courtesy of Malcolm Slaney)
BELMONT - On a sunny day in the rolling hills of the Bay Area, two freshmen girls began and ended the 2019 CIF Central Coast Section Championships with a bang.
In between, juggernaut teams like the Bellarmine College Prep boys, Menlo School girls, and Crystal Springs Uplands boys rolled to division titles in the meet that crowned team and individual champions across five divisions while also serving as a qualifying process for the CIF-State Meet scheduled for the last Saturday in November.
In the first race Saturday morning on the 2.95-mile Crystal Springs course -- Division I girls -- standout Los Altos freshman Lauren Soobrian continued her dominant inaugural season, running with a 17:58.20 to win the section title. Soobrian was dealing with a sickness leading up to the race, but was able to recover in time before the meet. Her time was the second-fastest of the the day as Presentation senior Gianna Mendoza rolled to the Division II title with a time of 17:55.55.
Soobrian has already run for 17:49 in the 5k this year, and will certainly be in the mix at the CIF California State Meet in two weeks.
"I feel really ready and really prepared," Soobrian said about the State Meet.
Joining Soobrian as another youngster making a splash was Crystal Springs Uplands freshman Kaiya Brooks, who won the Division V girls race in a time of 18:07.57 to seal her first section title. She did it leaving Castilleja senior Tevah Gevelber, a two-time D-V champion, 47.35 seconds behind.
Brooks has emerged as one of the top freshmen in the state, who figures to challenge for a podium spot in two weeks. Even Brooks has been taken aback at times at her sudden success.
"I'm really happy with how I'm doing," Brooks said. "I just went into high school season not really expecting anything, and it's just been great."
"I mean, I've been running for a while, and I've been pretty successful. But I wasn't sure going into the cross country season."
In Division I boys, Bellarmine's streak lives to see another year as they won a seventh consecutive section title. Bellarmine had 69 points to beat runner-up Los Altos (93) despite missing three varsity runners to illness.
Junior Colin Peattie was the individual champion as well, winning in the fastest time of the day in 15:02.72. In particular, Peattie was impressed with how his team fared in the face of adversity.
"It's super fulfilling to finally get the win here today," Peattie said. "But I'm proud of my teammates, great performance. We're missing a couple of our top guys today, so three dudes from our JV team really stepped up and I'm super happy.
"It's huge. I think it goes to show much we want to be a top team in the state. Everyone running today, I think they all share the same dreams, goals and aspirations that I do, and I couldn't be prouder."
Another streak was extended at today's CCS Championships as the Crystal Springs Uplands boys team won their sixth consecutive Division V title to defend their home turf.
With the emerging Brooks and sustained success of the varsity boys team, it's a boom period for the Crystal Springs Uplands School running program. That's a testament to coach Albert Caruana, who was presented with an honor award at this year's CCS Championships.
"He's really always on top of us," senior Wilser Vasquez said about Caruana. "Every day, he's there. He's really dedicated, and that kinda rubs off on us. It makes us want to work hard for him because we know he's working as hard as he possibly can. He's a big part of this program, why we've been so successful."
The Menlo School girls, ranked No. 2 in the state, easily won a second straight Division IV title despite injured Duke-bound senior star Charlotte Tomkinson not among those taking the line. Those who did ran in a tight pack crossing 4-5-6-7-8 led by junior Alexandra McCusker (19:00.05). Menlo's 30 points (19:02 average, 6-second spread) were 81 better than runner-up Sacred Heart Prep.
Of note in other divisions:
- St. Ignatius swept the Division III team titles, with the girls winning for a second year in a row.
- Castilleja won a second consecutive girls Division V title.
- King City boys upset pre-meet favorite Scotts Valley to win the Division IV boys title.
- St. Francis girls rolled to the fastest team time of the day to win the Division II title.
The 2019 CIF State Cross Country Championships take place on Nov. 29 at Woodward Park in Fresno.
The CCS is allowed three team qualifiers in Divisions I, II, IV and V for boys and Divisions II and V for girls. All other divisions area allotted two team qualifiers. Up to five individuals not on qualifying teams also advance. For divisions with three qualifying teams, those five must finish among the top 14 overall. For divisions with two qualifying teams, those individuals must finish among the top 12 overall.
Here's a closer look at individual and team champions and State Meet qualifiers by division
Other team State Qualifier: Gunn (146).
Individual Champion: Colin Peattie (Bellarmine) 15:02
Team Champion: Bellarmine (69 points)
Individual State Qualifiers: Sam Jones (Jr., Carlmont) 15:25.97, Aidan Dimick (So., Carlmont) 15:27.00, Carson Smith (Santa Teresa) 15:27.77, Rohun Agrawal (Jr., Monta Vista) 15:28.90, Ishaan Singh (Sr., Evergreen Valley) 15:31.27.
Other team State Qualifiers: Los Altos (93), Homestead (130)
Individual Champion: Gianna Mendoza (Presentation) 17:55
Team Champion: St. Francis (24 points)
Other Team State Qualifiers: Willow Glen (77), Lynbrook (127).
Individual Champion: Juan Pablo Garcia (St. Francis) 15:28
Team Champion: Willow Glen (65 points)
Individual State Qualifiers: Ben Geil (Jr., Leigh) 15:32.2, Garrett MacQuiddy (Sr., Westmont) 15:42.0, Evan Franco (Sr., Branham) 15:43.1, Sami Shafi (So., Leland) 15:45.5, Blaine Reynolds (Jr., Aragon) 15:56.4.
Other Team State Qualifiers: St. Francis (75), Lynbrook (108)
Individual Champion: Noelle Diep (So., El Camino) 18:42
Team Champion: St. Ignatius (50 points)
Other Team State Qualifier: Sacred Heart (67)
Other Team State Qualifier: Sacred Heart Catholic (88)
Individual Champion: Anna Weirich (Jr., Harker) 18:01
Team Champion: Menlo (30 points)
Other Individual State Qualifiers: Kayla Penny (Sr., San Lorenzo Valley) 19:49.26, Kaleigh Pennington (So., San Lorenzo Valley) 19:56.50, Caroline Coen (Jr., Pacific Grove) 20:15.16, Amber Boothby (Fr., Scotts Valley) 20:19.86
Other Team State Qualifier: Sacred Heart Pre (96), Half Moon Bay (97)
Individual Champion: Raymond Brookman (Sr., Santa Cruz) 15:42
Team Champion: King City (52)
Other Individual State Qualifiers: Cory Nounnan (Jr., San Lorenzo Valley) 15:51.81, Cash Ebright (So., San Lorenzo Valley) 16:01.56, Will Stefanou (Sr., Pacific Grove) 16:09.20, Sam Coutts (Jr., Pacific Grove) 16:21.46.
Other Team State Qualifiers: Scotts Valley (66), Menlo (102).
Individual Champion: Kaiya Brooks (Fr., Crystal Springs Uplands) 18:07
Team Champion: Castilleja (29 points)
Individual State Qualifiers: Eszter Horvath (Jr., Priory) 20:06.50, Nellie Rubio Pintor (So., Ceiba) 20:25.88, Rachel Suess (Jr., Trinty) 20:37.22, Elizabeth Armstrong (Sr., Pacific Collegiate) 20:51.09, Emily Takara (So., Pinewood) 21:20.27.
Other Team State Qualifiers: Crystal Springs Uplands (55), The Nueva School (62).
Individual Champion: Michael Julian (So., The York School) 15:46.35
Team Champion: Crystal Springs Uplands School (43 points)
Other Individual State Qualifiers: Paulo Orozco (Sr., Downtown College Prep) 16:54.55, Chris Martin (Sr., Nueva School) 17:08.59, Ellis Richardson (So., Oakwood) 17:11.52, Dylan Taylor (Sr., Nueva) 17:11.88.
Other Team State Qualifiers: Priory (71), St. Francis Central Coast (75).
Interviews by Logan Stanley. All photos courtesy of Malcolm Slaney.
MileSplitCA Editor Jeffrey Parenti contributed to this report.