Sunday, December 10, 2017

2017 NorCal Cross Country Awards

Now that the 2017 XC season is complete, here are my awards for this past cross country season.
2011 Award Winners
2012 Award Winners
2013 Award Winners
2014 Award Winners
2015 Award Winners
2016 Award Winners
Feel free to share your comments below.

Most Valuable Runner (boys)-Liam Anderson Redwood (NCS)
Most Valuable Runner (girls)-Elena Denner Oak Ridge (SJS)

Most Impressive Performance (boys)-Liam Anderson Redwood (NCS) at NXN
Most Impressive Performance (girls)-Maddy Denner Oak Ridge (SJS) at Clovis Invitational

Most Impressive Performance (boys' team)-St. Francis (CCS) at CA State Meet/NXN/Dublin (NCS) at Clovis Invitational
Most Impressive Performance (girls' team)-Granada (NCS) at NCS MOC Meet

Rising Star (boys)-Matt Strangio Jesuit (SJS)
Rising Star (girls)-Caroline Garrett Oakland Tech (OAK)

Most Inspirational (boys)-Open to suggestions
Most Inspirational (girls)-Open to suggestions

Most Improved Runner (boys)-Connor Livingston De La Salle (NCS)/Nicholas Medearis Crystal Springs Uplands (CCS)
Most Improved Runner (girls)-Claire Jackson University (NCS)

Lifetime Achievement Award (boys)-Meika Beaudoin-Rousseau Bellarmine (CCS)
Lifetime Achievement Award (girls)-Mari Friedman Santa Cruz (CCS)

Buster Posey (rookie of the year)-Kamran Murray Menlo (CCS)
Buster Posey (rookie of the year)-Layla Ruiz Watsonville (CCS)

Best Robin to Batman (best supporting actor)-Open to suggestions
Best Robin to Batman (best supporting actress)-Open to suggestions

Best Three Amigos-Shyam Kumar, Eric Eng, Colton Colonna St. Francis (CCS)
Best Three Amigas-Colleen McCandless, Kalea Bartolotto, Gracie Dupuis Granada (NCS)

Boys Coach of the Year (Directing)-Phil and Sam Pompei St. Francis (CCS)
Girls Coach of the Year (Directing)-Noel and Jeremy Mattern Granada (NCS)

Any other awards?

Donation to Cross Country Express site

If you have enjoyed all the Cross Country coverage on this website this past season, a kind donation would be appreciated.  You can do so with the link to the right.  If you don't do online payments, you can email me at albertjcaruana@gmail.com and I will send you an address where you can send a check.

This site will remain a free service throughout the upcoming track and field season but as you know, a lot of time and effort goes into the maintenance of the website.

Thank you very much to those of you that have already donated.  If I haven't done so already, you will hear from me in appreciation.

Friday, December 08, 2017

39th Annual Foot Locker Cross Country Championship National Finals This Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, San Diego

Image
*** MEDIA ALERT ***
39th Annual 
Foot Locker Cross Country Championship National Finals
This Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, San Diego
GENERAL INFORMATION: The top 80 high school distance runners (40 boys and 40 girls) from across the country will compete in the 39th Annual Foot Locker Cross Country Championships this Saturday, Dec. 9 at Balboa Park in San Diego, Calif. The 5,000-meter course has launched the professional careers of an impressive array of prestigious runners in years past, including Olympians Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi, and Kara Goucher. The Foot Locker Cross Country Championships is comprised of four regional 5K races, Midwest (Kenosha, Wis.), Northeast (Bronx, N.Y.), South (Charlotte, N.C.), and West (Walnut, Calif.), where the top 10 boys and top 10 girls from each region's seeded races qualified to compete in the National Finals.

WHERE: Morley Field, Balboa Park
RACE TIMES: Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017
Girls Race: 9:15 AM (PT)
Boys Race:10:00 AM (PT)

MEDIA INFORMATION: Media credentials will be issued to photographers and journalists on assignment at Morley Field at Balboa Park starting at 8:30 AM on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017.

PHOTOS: Photos of all runners from the race will be available from this linkhttp://footlockercc.com/FootLocker2017 at approximately 2pm (PT). Photo credit is PhotoRun.net for Foot Locker

MEDIA CONTACTS:

For more information on the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, please visit www.footlockercc.com or visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FLCCC. Follow us on twitter and Instagram at @FLCCC and #FLCCC.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Catching up with SF University coach, Carin Marrs

Today we chat with SF University coach, Carin Marrs (top left). This past season, University completed a highly successful season that included two varsity league championships (BCL West) and a section title (boys) and 2nd place section finish (girls). At the CA state meet, the University girls finished in 2nd place and recorded their first boys' state championship in school history. 

1) What was your own running experience? How did you get your start into running? Highlights and proudest achievements during your competitive period? Did you play any other sports?
I started running in 8th grade after doing a lot of other sports before that time. I especially loved basketball and played in some pretty competitive leagues, but my freshman year I quit to focus on cross country and track. My proudest high school race was my senior year at the state XC meet when I won the individual state title and my team took first.  I went on to run in college and was lucky enough to be a part of a great program.  But it was a difficult transition for me and I had an average college career. Although I did have some great races during that time, they were pretty sporadic.

2) Who were the coaches that had the biggest impact on you and what did you learn from them? 
I went to high school in central Virginia, where I was fortunate to be coached by the absolute best wife-husband team, Cherie and Chuck Witt. They were focused on making distance running fun- we played games every single week- but were also highly competitive. Our cross country team won state titles 3 of my 4 years, once with a score of 23 points! And while our team was nationally ranked for most of my high school career- a tribute to our incredibly tight pack- all of my teammates were incredibly humble people. In my coach's’ words, each race was just “a tempo run with uniforms on” which took meant we could relax and just do what we did in practice every day- push each other hard without unnecessary stress. They taught me that I was a teammate first and that my individual race was important mainly because it was part of a bigger picture. One of my coaches was also my math teacher who taught me how to analyze race statistics and the importance of mental math for running. He could spout off 400 splits for a 5k or add up finishers for a team score in about 2 seconds. Probably the biggest thing I learned in high school XC was the importance of pushing during “bad” races- when you know you’re not having a great day. If you throw in the towel on a “bad” day, 40 people might pass you. But can you keep fighting and only let 5 people pass you because your team needs those points? That kind of team-centered thinking was central to my high school coaches’ philosophy.

3) What led you to coaching and what was your first experience? What did you learn from that experience? 
I worked a bunch of little jobs the year after college and asked my old high school coach if I could volunteer as an assistant.  I was immediately hooked on coaching and after one year of being an assistant, I took over as head coach of that program. The biggest thing I learned was that I was passionate about coaching and working with high schoolers. I remember dealing with some tough interpersonal issues affecting our team chemistry and celebrating the day a girl broke 8:00 for the mile just as powerfully as I remember the days we won state championships during those years.  I was in law school three of those four years but I may have spent more time and energy on that team than I did studying- I know I arranged my class schedule to be able to get to practice every day which was not easy to do.

4) How did you hear about the University coaching job? Was there any hesitation on your part before you accepted the job? 
I did legal and social work in the bay area for 7+ years before having my first son in 2012. I was dying to get back into coaching and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to start over so I google searched “cross country high school San Francisco.” I came across the Jim Tracy ESPN clip and was intrigued. I thought the program looked competitive, so I cold-called the athletics office and asked if they needed a volunteer assistant. At that poin, I found out that the school’s long-time head coach, Jim Tracy, was dying of ALS and I was hired as a deputy head coach to work with him. Being a co-head coach sounded complicated, especially in a program with 10 girls’ state titles and many years of tradition that I knew nothing about. I knew my coaching style would be radically different than Jim’s and I’d only worked in larger public schools, so I was somewhat concerned.

5) What was your experience during the first year? How difficult was it for you taking over for Jim Tracy? 
I had the privilege of working with Jim for about 7 months before he passed away in April 2014. I learned his quirky but effective methods and inserted some of my philosophy into the team that year. But the cross country team struggled big time with the coaching transition and from a competitive standpoint it was a rough season. Our boys didn’t make it to the state meet and our girls’ performance there was lackluster compared to the many podium finishes of the past. Jim passed away early in track season of the following year which was devastating for the families who had known him as the team’s iconic leader for many years. It was really hard taking over for Jim, we have very different personalities  I didn’t have the credibility with the kids or program that comes with year-after-year state championships and rebuilding trust took a few years.

6) Looking back at this past season, what were some of your biggest highlights? 
We had the highest combined finishes at the state meet of any teams in our school history, so that was huge. Early in the season we were shooting for 3rd/5th, but as I saw kids progressing throughout the season I thought it was 1st and 2nd were possible if we ran smart races but it would take a day when all the stars aligned. The boys were in 13th place at the mile- and then took off. My 3rd and 4th guys passed a total of 142 guys in those last 2 miles. I was super proud to see the guys execute our season-long race plan so well on the biggest stage when nerves can take over. On the girls’ side, our team captains- Christina Howard and Claire Jackson- each had remarkable seasons and truly led the team in every sense of the word. If I had done cuts, Christina would not have made the team her sophomore year. She was running 25 minutes for 5k. She was our critical 4th girl at the state meet in a time 5 minutes faster than 2 years ago! Claire (9th at CIF) has battled so many serious injuries and setbacks for 3 years and it was awesome to see what she could do when she got some uninterupted training under her belt this year. Consistency was a theme for our teams this year and those girls were great models for that.

7) What are your expectations for your runners during the summer? Any running camps? 
I have three levels of running programs for the summer months- returning varsity, 2nd year runners, and new runners. They are all minutes-based, and are purely aerobic runs that get pretty long towards the end of the summer. We meet 3 mornings/week for kids who are in town. My goal is to create our own team camp at some point, but we don’t have one right now.

8) Who have been your coaching mentors during your coaching career? 
I have so many. Like I mentioned, my high school coaches are my biggest mentors and I still see them and pick their brains whenever I’m back in Virginia. Juli Henner Benson (1996 Olympian in the 1500) coached me for 2 years in college and she showed me what it meant to care about your athletes as humans first. She also taught me that running 9 minute miles on recovery days works for Olympians-  no one cares if you win the easy run! Finally, the coaches in our league have supported and inspired me in my work at UHS. My assistant coach, Kevin Cruikshank has a wealth of experience in this program and can draw on his memories of the legendary Jim Tracy days whenever the kids need humor or inspiration. Jeff Gardiner at Lick-Wilmerding and Mike Buckley at Convent/Stuart Hall have supported me when I was a new coach in the league and have been motivators for me and my athletes from a competitive standpoint in both cross country and track with their perennially strong programs.

9) What does a typical week look like for your runners? Any morning runs? Typical weekly mileage? Distance of longest run for your experienced runners? How often do they do strength work? 
We usually do a tough strength workout and an easy run on Mondays. Tuesday are a hard/faster workout- sometimes a tempo run, intervals, hills. Wednesdays we do our long run- I stole this non-traditional day idea from Chris Williams at Dublin HS and it made all the difference this year. Thursday is a longer recovery day and Friday is usually a pre-meet easy run with strides. Saturday is either a meet or another hard workout- tempo/intervals/fartlek/hills. Sundays are always off. I firmly believe that high schoolers don’t need to run 7 days a week and it makes the other 6 days higher quality. I think most serious runners can continue to improve in college if they are not run into the ground in high school. We usually do minutes-based long runs with 80 minutes being a standard for the top group. This can mean anywhere from 9 to 12 miles depending on how fast the group is going and where we are running. The Presidio has a ton of hills and we do incorporate those trails into most of our long runs. We do a focused, hour-long strength session on Mondays and strength and mobility work every day after running. The top guys were at about 50 mpw at the end of the summer and the girls were around 40. Their mileage varied during the season but it was never quite that high after August. The strength work and focus on quality were a big reason I think we had zero serious injuries this year.

10) Since your running days to now, what are the biggest changes that you have seen in cross country and track and field (positive and negative)? 
I think that the internet and specifically social media and has impacted the sport in negative ways for sure. It’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole of comparison when you see a competitor or even elite athlete posting a workout or a race time (and the cute accompanying photo that makes it seem like the workout/race was a breeze) and start feeling discouraged without really knowing anything about their circumstances. It was easier 20 years ago to focus on improving yourself rather than becoming consumed with what others say they are doing (it’s very likely fake!). However, the internet has positively impacted the sport by bringing athletes, coaches and fans together to uplift each other on sites like yours.
Another positive change is that I see a lot more strong, powerful, well-fueled high school girls than when I was in high school. There are still many young people suffering from disordered eating and it is still one of my biggest concerns in the high school distance running world. But I believe that now there are fewer coaches emphasizing “thin = fast” and more awareness around the long-term destructive nature of restrictive eating.

11) What would your advice be for a new coach taking over a team? 
Take nothing for granted. Just because you have a great experience one season doesn’t mean everything will stay the same next year so celebrate the highs in real time! On the flip side, it only takes a couple of athletes making  positive changes to turn a mediocre team into a group of incredible athletes, even though “rebuilding” seasons can seem so disheartening.  Finally, believe in every athlete who is willing to work hard. I know that consistency and passion trump talent when it comes to improvement and when the stakes are high, you can rely on the gritty kids.

12) Anything else you would like to add. 
Thank you, Albert, for all you’ve given to bring recognition and respect to a sport that doesn’t get enough press!

Thank you very much for your time Carin! AJC

THE 10TH ANNUAL NORCAL DISTANCE COACHES COLLABORATIVE ROUNDTABLE

Coaches that have secured a position so far.
1) Chris Puppione
2) Jason Oswalt (Amador Valley)
3) Albert Caruana (Crystal Springs Uplands)
4) Sean Kohles (Skyline)
5) Ruth Seabrook (Northgate)
6) Peter Brewer (Northgate)
7) Jared Steele (Terra Nova)
8) John Maloney (Bellarmine)
9) Pat McCrystal (Bellarmine)
10) Rich Miller (Sir Francis Drake)
11) Jack Wallace (Albany)
12) Tim Tuff (Mills)

Location  
Amador Valley High School
1155 Santa Rita Road
Pleasanton, CA 94566

Date
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Session I: 9am-12pm
Lunch: 12pm-1pm
Session II: 1pm-4pm

Roundtable Leaders
Jason Oswalt – Clinic Co-Director
Chris Puppione – Clinic Co-Director
Albert Caruana – Clinic Co-Director

Roundtable Features
Everyone is a clinician, everyone is a student.
Roundtable topics selected by attendees in advance via email.
All attendees receive “A Packet of Nuggets”—a compilation of coaching gems from each attending coach.
Attendees will also receive a collection of training programs submitted by the other coaches in attendance.
Cost for the roundtable discussion is FREE! And you get breakfast and lunch!
Event is open to the first 30 coaches to register. 

Contact Jason Oswalt (trackcoachozzie@gmail.com) to register for the event, as well as to receive further information. This event is for HIGH SCHOOL COACHES ONLY.

Please contact Jason ASAP as spots will fill up fast. Some of the best coaches in California will be at this Roundtable. Don't miss out.

December 4, 2017

Dear Coaches,
.
It’s hard to believe that it was 10 years ago when we were sitting at Sports Basement in the first annual NorCal Collaborative Coaches Roundtable. At that time the Roundtable was part experiment and part excuse to simply get together and talk shop. As 2017 winds down, with cross country season behind us and track staring us in the face, the Roundtable has become a staple in our winter schedule and something that we hope local coaches look forward to as much as we do. 

It’s time to mark your calendars again as the 2018 Roundtable will be held on January 13th.The site will once again be Amador Valley High School, in Pleasanton, CA. The event is scheduled to kick-off at 9am and will be attended by many of the finest coaches from our part of the state. 

As many of you know, this clinic is unique in format and concept. We hire no presenters or speakers. When you RSVP, you are volunteering to share your knowledge of our sport. Your price of admission is your willingness to share your knowledge. For 9 years, our programs have evolved partially based on things we have learned from each other at the Roundtable. I invite you to make it 10.

Limited to the first 30 coaches to sign-up via email, this roundtable discussion is completely based on the contributions of all attendees. 
Here is how it works:

Coaches are asked to email Jason Oswalt (trackcoachozzie@gmail.com) to sign-up for the event.  

Upon receipt of your email, Jason will ask you to submit the following for the clinic by Friday, January 5, 2018:
Topics and ideas you would like to discuss or gain knowledge about at the clinic (training, recruiting, nutrition, state of the sport, etc.)
This is an absolute necessity, as these suggestions will function as our agenda for the day. This is Part I of your entrance fee.
A 1-3 page installment (or “nugget of knowledge”) describing something you do with your athletes that you feel is key to your program’s success (i.e. a particular workout, coaching philosophy, mental training, etc.)
All coaches are expected to contribute with this—consider it as Part II of your entrance fee!
These “nuggets” will be compiled and all attendees will receive the full collection of notes at the clinic in both print and digital formats.
A copy of your training plan and notes from the past cross country season or the upcoming track season.
This is Part III of your entrance fee, and coaches are to submit these so that they may be shared with other attendees for review, critique, and to foster discussion of training methods.
These training programs will be sent out to all attendees in digital format, and you are asked to print them out prior to the roundtable and make notes on them for discussion purposes.
By submitting your training ideas or plans in advance, you can have your season’s training discussed by some of our sport’s greatest coaches, so don’t miss out on this opportunity.
All submitted information must be sent in either MS Word or MS Excel docs so that they can be easily formatted for compilation.
In recognition of our 10th year, we invite you to send a training plan that you used in 2008 so that we might recognize and discuss how much we have evolved as coaches over the last decade.  

A running tally of coaches who commit to attending the roundtable will be maintained on Albert’s website (www.crosscountryexpress.com) so everyone can prepare any specific questions that they may have for their fellow coaches.  

Prior to the event, Jason, Chris, and Albert will release a schedule that will outline the topics for the day so that each coach attending may come prepared to participate and contribute.  

THERE ARE NO LECTURERS AT THIS EVENT. We are not presenting a seminar—this is an opportunity to expand the discussion and for everyone to be a student and a teacher.  

Attending coaches are encouraged to bring any information they wish to discuss or share to the event. We will have overhead projectors, LCD projectors, as well as AV equipment—bring it all (We will actually have a working projector this year!).  

Also, we would like all coaches in attendance to bring their laptop computers with them, as we will be using internet connections to access information during discussion periods. Please be sure to have your flash drive or memory stick with you so you can steal/borrow info from other coaches.  

Sign-in on January 13th will begin at 8:30am with the roundtable beginning promptly at 9am. We will section the day into topics picked by our attendees.  
We will break for lunch at noon, and then reconvene for further discussion starting at 1pm. The roundtable ends at 4pm.  

While this is an open discussion, Jason, Chris, and Albert will serve as leaders for the event. These coaches will act as guides for the discussion, keeping the roundtable focused while moving the group through the agenda and moderating input from all coaches. They will offer their insights as well, but they are not clinicians or panelists.  

On the day of the event, all attending coaches will receive the following:
“A Packet of Nuggets”—a compilation of coaching gems from all attendees
A collection of all attendees training programs
Great conversation with amazing colleagues  
It is our belief that this collaborative roundtable will be of great benefit for all coaches—rookies and veterans alike. Please join us for this amazing event by emailing your registration to Jason Oswalt (trackcoachozzie@gmail.com).

When the day comes to an end, all are invited to take the conversation down the street where coaches can gather for food and refreshments.

Be a part of the excitement—be a part of the conversation. Join us January 13, 2018 at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, CA for The 10th Annual NorCal Distance Coaches’ Collaborative Roundtable.

Yours in running,
Jason Oswalt

Chris Puppione

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

2017 All-CCS Cross Country Team


You can find the entire list of runners at this LINK.

The All-NorCal team will be posted at the end of next week once Hank Lawson compiles all the votes. The NorCal Awards will be posted after the Foot Locker National race this Saturday.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

NorCal Teams/Individuals shining at NXN and Foot Locker

NXN
Boys Individuals
3) Liam Anderson Redwood Junior (fastest underclassman)
15) Matt Strangio Jesuit Sophomore (fastest sophomore)

Boys Teams
9) St. Francis, Mt. View (1st CCS team to qualify for NXN)

Foot Locker West Region
9th Grade Boys
1) Kamran Murray Menlo

10th Grade Boys
1) Christopher Middleton-Pearson Dublin

10th Grade Girls
1) Kelli Wilson Monte Vista

Girls' Seeded Race
4) Alize Hartke Oakmont (qualifies for Foot Locker National)
19) Caroline Garrett Oakland Tech
20) Clarissa Nowag-Nelson McClatchy
30) Marea Zlatunich Aptos
35) Colleen McCandless Granada
37) Kaylah Grant Live Oak

Boys' Seeded Race
2) Meika Beaudoin-Rousseau Bellarmine (qualifies for Foot Locker National for 2nd year in a row)
6) Collin Ullrich Liberty Ranch (qualifies for Foot Locker National)
20) Connor Livingston De La Salle
24) Henry Saul Palo Alto
30) Owen MacKenzie Los Altos

You can check out interviews with many of the above athletes at this LINK.

If any other athletes deserve mention, please feel free to add them below in the comment section.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

California State XC meet newspaper coverage

Coach and Athlete Interviews

You can check out a couple of interviews that I did the last couple of days with Roosevelt coach, Joe Robles Jr and with Capistrano Valley senior, Haley Herberg (photo credit to Kirby Lee). Roosevelt finished in 2nd place in the state division I race behind Great Oak and qualified for Nationals. Herberg won the Division II race with a time of 17:00 (second fastest time of the day behind the course record of Claudia Lane).

Joe Robles Jr.:
http://ca.milesplit.com/articles/228292-roosevelt-coach-joe-robles-jr-talks-about-his-teams-journey-to-nxn

Haley Herberg:
http://ca.milesplit.com/articles/228379-capistrano-valley-senior-haley-herberg-reflects-on-her-state-meet-race-and-career

Monday, November 27, 2017

Northern California Podium Finishers at 2017 California State XC meet

TEAMS
Division V Girls
2) University (NCS)
3) Lick-Wilmerding (NCS)

Division V Boys
1) University (NCS)
3) Lick-Wilmerding (NCS)

Division II Girls
3) Granada (NCS)

Division II Boys
1) St. Francis, Mt. View (CCS)-NXN At-Large Qualifier
2) Dublin (NCS)

Division III Girls
1) Campolindo (NCS)
2) Vista del Lago (SJS)

Division IV Boys
2) Sir Francis Drake (NCS)

8 out of 10 podium teams from Northern California from NCS. 

INDIVIDUALS
Division V Girls
1) Rylee Bowen Sonoma Academy (NCS)
2) Emily Perez St. Joseph Notre Dame (NCS)
4) Grace Dailey Branson (NCS)
7) Callie Jones Branson (NCS)
9) Claire Jackson University (NCS)
10) Kate Bowen Sonoma Academy (NCS)

Division I Girls
3) Elena Denner Oak Ridge (SJS)-NXN Qualifier
10) Caroline Garrett Oakland Tech (OAK)

Division V Boys
2) Nicholas Medearis Crystal Springs Uplands School (CCS)
4) Andre Williams Sonoma Academy (NCS)
7) Sean Laidlaw Lick-Wilmerding (NCS)
9) Micah Filer Capital Christian (SJS)

Division I Boys
4) Matt Strangio Jesuit (SJS)-NXN Qualifier
5) Meika Beaudoin-Rosseau Bellarmine (CCS)

Division II Girls
5) Alize Hartke Oakmont (SJS)
8) Colleen McCandless Granada (NCS)

Division III Boys
1) Liam Anderson Redwood (NCS)-NXN Qualifier
10) Greg Aufderheide Livermore (NCS)

Division IV Girls
2) Mari Friedman Santa Cruz (CCS)
4) Kaela Dishion Bret Harte (SJS)
10) Hana Hall University Prep (NS)

Division II Boys
3) Shyam Kumar St. Francis (CCS)
6) Adrian Schroeder Dublin (NCS)
10) Damian King Bella Vista (SJS)

Division III Girls
1) Gillian Wagner Redwood (NCS)
6) Marea Zlatunich Aptos (CCS)
9) Quinn Hagerman Merced (SJS)
10) Sydnie Rivas Maria Carillo (NCS)

Division IV Boys
2) Collin Ullrich Liberty Ranch (SJS)
3) Robert Miranda Menlo (CCS)
10) Karl Winter St. Mary's, Stockton (SJS)

Comments welcome below. Surprises? Most impressive? 

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