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SAN FRANCISCO -- Jacqueline Holman is still new to the game. The Lowell High School junior just started running cross country in August. Now, she is the champion of the San Francisco Academic Athletic Association, beating senior teammate Jenna Satovsky on Wednesday at Golden Gate Park.
Holman completed the 5,000-meter course in 19 minutes, 0.4 seconds. Satovsky finished second in 19:05.8. That was more than 1:30 ahead of the third-place runner.
In the boys division, senior Oliver Witt won the individual title while leading Lowell to the team championship and the CIF-San Francisco's lone berth to the CIF-State Championships on November 27 at Woodward Park in Fresno.
The San Francisco section qualifies just one boys and one girls team to the State Meet, plus any at-large runner not on the qualifying team who places among the top eight.
Lowell's girls scored 21 points. George Washington was second with 54 points.
"I did not know I was doing cross country before August," Holman said. "My friend does it and she's on my soccer team."
Added Satovsky, "And we forced her to stay!"
The two train together and are used to leading the pack. That's what happened on this afternoon, as they left the field behind early.
"I was just trying to stick with Jenna the entire time," Holman said. "She's beaten me in all the other races."
Satovsky was a little under the weather but excited for Holman.
"Today, she was right behind me and I was pacing her," Satovsky said. "I knew she was going to catch me on the kick and she did, which is awesome. It's really fun to watch that as a teammate.
"She has got a really good kick."
Three other non-Lowell girls also earned at-large berths: Noelle Kimotsuki of Galileo Academy finished third in 20:41.5; George Washington's Kiera Stauber was fourth in 21:42.1, and Freya Wehrheim of Galileo in eighth in 22:44.8.
Lowell's boys took five of the top six places, putting up 17 points with Witt leading the way in 16:42.8. Teammate Benjamin Lester placed second in 17:05.8. Both are seniors who placed second and third, respectively, as sophomores at the 2019 All-City final.
"It was pretty good," Witt said. "It was not the time I was hoping for but we knew the course was running kind of slow today. The real goal here was just to win, the team win, to be going to state."
Witt said there was no strategy in terms of a place to try to break away on the course.
"I just wanted to set a pretty even pace throughout it," he said. "Because I've had problems before with going out too fast."
Lester said, "He's so fast it doesn't matter if he goes out too fast."
Qualifying for State was important for the Cardinals. Lester noted that the group of seniors went as sophomores but then there wasn't a season their junior year.
"It's fun to go and get that one last try at it," he said.
Three non-Lowell runners also qualified to run at the State Meet: Galileo's Mathias Camilli was fourth in 17:23.2, his freshman teammate Leo Wingate was seventh (18:11.0), and Washington freshman Parker Simons placed eighth (18:25.0).
Ben Tucker, who won this event for now-closed Poly-San Francisco in 1959, was on hand to present medals to the winners. Tucker won the State Meet mile in 1960 and ran on two NCAA championship teams at San Jose State. Tucker competed in the 1,500 at the 1964 U.S. Olympic Trials.
This was only the second All-City Finals since 2017 because the 2018 meet was canceled as a result of poor air quality due to lingering wildfire smoke, and the 2020 meet was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lowell has now won 14 consecutive section boys team titles and 30 since 1987. Lowell's girls won the team title for the 10th consecutive time and 41st time in 44 years dating to 1977.
Damin Esper is a freelance writer and regular contributor to MileSplitCA.
Cover and top photo by Damin Esper.
File photos of Holman and Witt from the Clovis Invitational by DeAnna Turner.