RECAP CIF Central Coast Section Cross Country Championships

BELMONT - Outstanding performances abounded on Saturday at the CIF Central Coast Section Cross Country Championships at the Crystal Springs course.

Predictions of extremely foggy conditions proved to be false. Instead, it was sunny and warm, making the 2.95-mile course a difficult trek.

Carlmont's Aidan Dimick was the top boy on the day, winning the Division 1 race in 14 minutes, 58.9 seconds. Pioneer's Bella Peretti was the top girls runner, winning the Division 2 race in 17:47.8.

The top two or three teams in each division qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships on November 27 at Woodward Park in Fresno. Up to five individuals from a non-qualifying team in each division could also advance to the State Meet.

Dimick had wanted to go out quicker than the leaders did in his race.

"The game plan was to go out in 4:52 (for the first mile)," he said. "And we ended up going out in a little above five. So I didn't really stick to the game plan, but it ended up fine."

Dimick said his training regimen had him pointing for this race. He said the heat had an affect.

"We got to this race and it was just super-hot and I was just tired by the second mile," Dimick said.

The team race came down to the sixth runner. Bellarmine had won seven consecutive Division 1 championships. However, Palo Alto was able to tie the Bells at 49 points. The Vikings No. 6 runner Kenji Tella took 23rd overall (21st for scoring) in 16:44.4. Bellarmine's No. 6 Jack Frida was 30th (28th) in 16:50.4.

The Vikings were led by Grant Morgenfeld, who finished third in 15:17.4. Behind him were the Bells' top two runners, Tanish Chettiar (fourth, 15:26.1) and Rick Yanashita (fifth, 15:39.1). Key to Palo Alto's victory may have been the threesome of Mateo Fesslmeier, Eoin O'Connell, and James Miller who ran 8-9-10. Fesslmeier finished in 15:56.1, O'Connell in 15:57.3, and Miller in 15:49.4.

Peretti said her plan was to let Prospect's Kylie Hoonaert take the lead early on before pushing it at the end. It worked out well for Peretti, who won by almost 18 seconds over Hoonaert (18:05.2).

Peretti wasn't complaining about the heat because the Blossom Valley Athletic League meet was held in the rain.

"It was raining, it was cold and I slipped in the mud," she said. "That was no fun. I definitely like the heat more than the rain."

She called winning the CCS championship was her No. 1 goal this year.

St. Francis won the team title with a very impressive bit of pack running - Lancer runners finished 7-8-9-10-11. Lillian Kaebler led the group in 18:55.7.

Palo Alto's Elizabeth Fetter won the girls Division 1 race in a strong 17:58.7. A pair of Los Gatos runners went 2-3 with Sophie Tau coming home in 18:22.2 and Shea Elmore next in 18:27.2. That helped the Wildcats to the team title with 47 points.

"I was a little bit off my PR but I qualified for state and I got first, so I was really happy with that," Fetter said. "I typically don't do super-well in the heat but, just go out there and try as much as you can. Hopefully, State will be a bit cooler weather."

The boys Division 2 race was won by Serra's Tommy Rogers in 15:38.3. Right behind him was Willow Glen's Casey Nuti in 15:39.3.

Saratoga's Harrison Dance won the boys Division 3 race by 30 seconds, clocking in at 15:43.7. Santa Cruz was the team titlist with 68 points, edging St. Ignatius by one point. The Wildcats had the tighter pack, running 11-13-14-15-16 but the Cardinals had three runners in the top nine to win out.

Capuchino runner Myla Brignardello was a surprise winner in the girls Division 3 race - after finishing she was running around telling friends, "I won!" She finished in 19:47.5. Aptos was the team champion with 45 points.

Scotts Valley swept the individual and team crowns in Division 4. Jeremy Kain won the boys race in 15:26.8, with The Menlo School's Justin Pretre and Landon Pretre next in 15:29.7 and 15:31.9, respectively. The Falcons just edged the Knights, 44-45. Both teams had all five scorers in the top 18 finishers.

The Boothby sisters ran 1-2 for Scotts Valley in the girls race. Ashlyn Boothby ran a dominant race, coming home in 18:15.3. Sister Amber Boothby was second in 19:07.7. The Falcons scored 35 points, with Sacred Heart Prep next with 41.

Michael Julian of The York School won the boys Division 5 race in 15:15.4. Crystal Springs Uplands took the team championship with 39 points. Castilleja's Samira Kennedy took the girls Division 5 race in 18:20.7. The Gators had three of the top four runners, but it wasn't enough for the team crown as The Nueva School ran 5-7-8-9-10 (5-6-7-8-9 for scoring purposes) to win the title with 35 points. Castilleja finished with 39.

Damin Esper is a freelance writer and regular contributor to MileSplitCA

Photos by Dan McSweeney