Above - Luis Grijalva (50) and Michael Vernau (511) run stride for stride as they head toward the 2-mile marker on the Woodward Park course during the Division I race at the 2016 State Cross Country Championships. / Below - Grijalva and Vernau battle at the Clovis Invitational with Callum Bolger giving chase. (Credits: Ben Crawford)
- - -
In the 33-year history of the CIF-State Cross Country Championships, all of which have been held on the 5000-meter course at Woodward Park in Fresno, there have only been five boys races where at least the top two finishers ran the course in under 15 minutes.
The first was in 1989 when Agoura's Bryan Dameworth won with a time of 14:45 and Arroyo Grande's Louie Quintana placed second in 14:59. That was just Year 3 of the State Meet. It didn't happen again until 2010 when a stunning five -- FIVE!!! -- boys ran sub-15, led by Arcadia's Ammar Moussa's 14:43.
It was another five years before Arcadia's Phillip Rocha (14:43) and Madera South's Eduardo Herrera (14:49) did it. A year later in 2016, Armijo's Luis Grijalva went 14:51 to hold off Davis' Michael Vernau (14:57).
All four of those were Division I races.
Here's a closer look at that 2016 competition between Grijalva and Vernau.
Funny thing about their performances at the State Meet is it wasn't even the closest or fastest race between these two on the Woodward Park course in 2016. That year at the Clovis Invitational, held on the same 5K course as the State Meet, Grijalva went 14:50 to Vernau's 14:52. At the time, those marks ranked Nos. 15 and 18, respectively, all-time at Woodward Park. (San Luis Obispo senior Callum Bolger was third in 15:01.30.)
Those two Sac-Joaquin Section rivals also battled at
- Lagoon Valley -- Won by Vernau in 15:07 with Grijalva 20 seconds back
- SJS Finals at Willow Hills -- Won by Grijalva in 15:08.50 with Vernau second in 15:10.20
Grijalva, who went on to run at Northern Arizona, also won Woodbridge in 2016, going 13:58.00 to edge Cooper Teare (St. Joseph Notre Dame) by 1.6 seconds. Grijalva closed out his high school XC career running at Foot Locker Nationals.
Vernau, won went on to run at Stanford, also won De La Salle/Carondelet at Newhall Park in 15:00.70, nearly 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Meikael Beaudoin-Rousseau (Bellarmine/CC) with a sophomore by the name of Liam Anderson (Redwood/NC) in fourth nearly 30 seconds back. Vernau closed out his high school XC career running at Team Nationals in Portland.
2016 CIF-STATE DIVISION I BOYS TOP 10
1. 14:51 Luis Grijalva (Armijo/SJ)
2. 14:57 Michael Vernau (Davis/SJ)
3. 15:10 Meikael Beaudoin-Rousseau (Bellarmine/CC)
4. 15:11 Justin Hazell (El Camino Real/LA)
5. 15:15 Ethan Comeaux (Redondo Union/SS)
6. 15:21 Solomon Fountain (Great Oak/SS)
7. 15:28 Benjamin Holland (Jesuit/SJ)
8. 15:30 Christian Ricketts (Arroyo Grande/CS)
9. 15:30 Neil Braganza (Dougherty Valley/NC)
10. 15:30 Jacob Korgan (Great Oak/SS)