Clair Garrett, right, and Jonathan Simmons are the top two girls and boys returning cross country runners in the Oakland Section. (Photos: DeAnna Turner)
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With continued optimism for some sort of a cross country season in 2020-21, we move our season preview series up to the Bay Area where the state's two smallest sections reside, Oakland and San Francisco, with fewer than 40 schools between the two sections and just a combined 21 that were represented at the 2019 section finals.
This articles focuses on the Oakland Section.
As of the latest map breaking down COVID-19 impact statewide, all counties in the Bay Area remain in the widespread (purple) tier. The state department of public health (CDPH) has indicated cross county may take the line after Jan. 25 while still in the purple tier but to move forward with competition still requires approval from county and local health authorities as well as school district sign-off. The Bay Area, with a 0.7% ICU capacity, remained under a Regional Stay At Home order as of Jan. 11.
Hope for competition depends on a decline of cases from the post-holiday surge.
In looking ahead, we have to look back to the last CIF cross country competition, which was November of 2019.
Oakland had 10 teams with representation at its 2019 section championship with eight teams that scored in the boys varsity competition and five in the girls.
Team competition, running at MLK Shoreline for the first time after years at Joaquin Miller Park, saw a narrow split between the sections two deepest programs, Oakland Tech and Skyline.
Sophomore Clair Garrett led a one-point victory for Oakland Tech over Skyline in the girls race despite a runaway victory for then-senior Eleanor Wikstrom. Skyline, behind the runner-up finish of then-junior Jonathan Simmons, was a 12-point winner over Oakland Tech in the boys competition. American Indian was third in both the boys and girls team competitions.
OAKLAND SECTION BOYS PREVIEW
Simmons is the top returner from both the section meet and the State Meet, where he placed 68th in Division III. Skyline also returns sophomore Andy Ixtabalan Argueta (pictured), who was sixth at the section final, senior Andrew Scannell, ninth, and junior Durrell Freeman 10th.
Oakland Tech's top returner sophomore Owen Boulet, who was seventh at sections, and also qualified to run at the State Meet, and junior Diego Weikum, who placed eighth, and also was an individual qualifier to run at the State Meet. Junior Noah Beyer placed 22nd at the section final for Oakland Tech.
Other top returners from the OK Finals are senior Jorge Flores and junior Rafael Sanchez-Almanzar of Castlemont, sophomore Johnny Rodrigues-McConville and senior Juan Larrieta Ceron of Kipp King Academy, juniors Selim Jones, Dahua Tizzy Yi and Yuecong Liu of Oakland High, junior Robert Padron of LPS Hayward, junior Harley Ho of Oakland Charter, and senior Carlos Cortez of LPS Richmond.
OAKLAND SECTION GIRLS PREVIEW
Rising junior Clair Garrett is the section's top returner from both the section final, where she placed second, and the State Meet, where she competed in Division II in leading the Oakland Tech team that returns six runners, including four scores who took the line in Fresno.
Joining Garrett, are senior Quinn Sedlachek, juniors Josie Goodson (pictured) and Caitlin Lee and sophomores Nina Fitzgerald Boes and Zoe Thogersen. Sedlachek was fifth at the section final and is the No. 3 returner, Goodson was seventh and Lee was ninth.
Skyline moves on without the incomparable Wikstrom led by seniors Greta Glueck, Emma Pitstick and Astrid Boyd, and junior Silvia Kambouridis. Glueck was third at the section final and is the No. 2 return and Kambouridis was sixth and is the No. 4 returner. Glueck, Pitstick and Kambouridis are returning girls from Skyline who took the line at in the Division III race at the State Championships.
Other returners among the top 25 at the section final are from American Indian -- junior Yumi Zhou (17th) and senior Sophia Huang (18th); from Oakland High -- seniors Jacquelen Gomez (19th) and Kaitlyn Chen (20th) and junior Kayannah Jackson (21st); from LPS-Richmond -- seniors Dayrin Paredes (22nd) and Susanna Ortiz (24th); from Oakland Charter -- sophomore Nicole Lui (23rd), and from Kipp King Academy -- junior Winnie Quach (25th).