Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Updated Earlybird Invitational Preview by NMC coach Gus Ibarra

2009 Earlybird Invitational Preview by Coach Gustavo Ibarra

North Monterey County High School is proud to present the 15th Annual Anniversary Edition Earlybird Invitational! We’re set for a 4th year at Toro Park (2010 CCS Championship Site) in Salinas. It will be bigger and better than ever with more than 70 teams and around 2,500 athletes expected to participate Saturday, Sept. 12th. Races will be held by grade levels for both genders with combined team times being used for overall bragging rights. This may be the most competitive early-season meet in the state of California with many state and section ranked teams and individuals. The 2009 edition will welcome our traditional line-up of powerhouse squads from the north and central part of the state. The Central Coast Section will put on a show with 8 of the top 10 ranked squads from both genders including the top 5 ranked squads on the girls’ side and the top 2 squads on the boys’ side clashing early on! The Central Section, North Coast Section, and the Northern Section will also send some of their best including 6 squads ranked in the top 3 in their section! Hold on folks! As cross country is a true team sport, we’ll start by highlighting the top teams followed by the top individuals.

Let’s get started with the GIRLS. We have a toss-up here as the top 5 CCS ranked squads face off and will be challenged by some great valley squads. Carlmont took Earlybird in 2006 and 2007 and are back seeking a 3rd title in 4 years. They are shooting for an incredible 5th CCS title in DI and are ranked 1st in DI after a fine 11th place in state last year. They have made a coaching change and we’ll see how the crew adjusts. Regardless, they will have their hands full with Mountain View, the top ranked squad in DII. They are also defending CCS Champs from DII and placed 4th at state last year just outside the podium! They also hold the 2nd fastest team time ever at Toro Park at 96:11! They are a bit short-handed today with one girl ACT testing and another out with an injury but should still contend today. St. Ignatius took Earlybird last year and always runs well here. Although their team leader graduated, the cupboard is stocked full after just missing the top 10 at state last year! They are our final defending CCS Champs from DIII and are ranked 2nd there! Aptos, ranked 1st in DIII, returns the whole kit and caboodle that placed 7th at state and could make noise both locally and state-wide after re-loading after a state title in 2005. They are missing their team leader here as she competes at the World Triathlon Championships so that may open the door to the other squads today. Lynbrook brings a partial squad but has the girls to make a nice showing! Madera South comes from the valley and has shot to the top quickly. They return their top 5 and are ranked 2nd in CS DIII. Clovis West also comes from the valley and would like to play spoiler with their crew ranked 4th in CS DI. Keep an eye on Las Lomas from the north after placing 18th in state and returning their top 5 girls! Presentation took the bronze here 2 years back and comes in ranked 4th in CCS DII. Gilroy continues the upward rise ranked 3rd in CCS DI. Los Gatos returns ranked 5th in CCS DII and holds the team time course record at Toro Park from 2006 at a blazing 96:01! Evergreen Valley, San Benito, Mitty, Valley Christian, Leland, Half Moon Bay, Salinas, Escalon, Santa Cruz, Madera, and host North Monterey County will also vie for some top spots!

The senior girls’ race features “mighty-mite” Samantha Hamilton (Half Moon Bay). She won her Earlybird race 2 years ago and is favored here as a senior. The small efficient strider blazed an 18:25 at Toro 3 years ago which is #15 all-time at the park and a freshman park record! She also won CCS DIV last year!! Alicia Brown (Madera South) will be one to watch with her 2:11 800 speed and could take the win, especially if the pace is slow early on! Claudia Barnett (Leland) ran a nice 11:30 3200 in track and should be in the mix. Local Natalie Sandoval (Notre Dame Salinas) will try to make it a top 5 finish once again. Keep an eye on Rachel Shimabukuro (San Benito), she could sneak up and win the whole thing! Zoe Papas (Mountain View) will set the tone for her great team here. Carina Mendoza (Madera) should represent the valley very well. Abby Otto (St. Ignatius), Brandie Rodriguez (Gilroy), Dari Salvador (Alisal), Lauren Allen (Woodside Priory), Karen Wei (Saratoga), Michelle Duarte (San Benito), Katie Castro (Los Gatos), and Kelsey Palassou (Salinas) hope to shake up the front. Team running will be on display as teammates Kim McMullen and Emily Nevitt (Aptos), Jovita Trujillo, Nadine Huerta, and Zaira Guzman (North Monterey County), and finally Abby Barker, Georgia Cottong, and Julia Roake (Carlmont) challenge for a top 10 finish.

We’re predicting the most exciting team race of the day here! Two years ago St. Ignatius won on a 6th runner tie-breaker to Saratoga and Las Lomas trailed only 1 point back! Last year Las Lomas got their revenge and took the title and Gilroy and Mountain View joined the party. But, if Carlmont can field a full team they may steal the whole show with host North Monterey County and Clovis West also in the mix!

The junior girls’ should be led by two of the best. Multi-sport star Rachel Hinds (St. Ignatius) is going for 3 Earlybird wins in a row! She burst onto the CA running scene 2 years ago with her race win here, a CCS DIII title, and an 8th place in state! Last year she kept it up with another win here in 18:27 and a 15th place finish at state! If anyone can stop the win streak it will be Jessie Peterson (Carlmont). The last two years she’s been about 30 seconds back and 2nd to Rachel but has 2 CCS 2 mile titles under her belt with a great 10:51 last spring! Corissa Storms (West Valley), Cindy Huang (Lynbrook), Katie Castro (Los Gatos), Angie Korpusik (Presentation), Delanne Bartlett (Enterprise), Emily Blaha (Valley Christian), Linnea Biddick (Aptos), Susie Reynolds (Mountain View), Mary Kriege (Mitty), Rebecca Reid (Mercy), and Tori Tsolis (Presentation), who ran a 2:14 800 and a 5:13 1600, will all challenge for a top 10 finish. Also watch Akaysha Dhaliwal (Madera South) as our sleeper pick.

In the team race watch Jacquelyn Urbina, Sam Scheutz, Caileen Viehweg, and Bridget Sullivan join Rachel to put on a team running clinic for St. Ignatius. 2 years ago they had a perfect 1-5 team sweep and a score of 15 to romp the competition as 9th graders! That’s unheard of in fields this size!! Last year they followed that up with a 30 point win in the sophomore race! Mitty, Mountain View, Presentation, and Los Gatos will once again battle for 2nd best.

The sophomore girls’ could have a runaway winner if Allison Sturges (Mountain View) continues her rise into the elite ranks! Her Earlybird win last year just got things going and her 2nd place in the 1600 at CCS in 4:59 capped a great first year. Watch out folks, she could be the next great one! Lauren Sharwood (Clovis West) returns to give chase and ran a nice 5:26 1600 in the spring. Our surprise could come from Samantha Garcia (Evergreen Valley). She was only 10th here last year but ran a blazing 11:14 3200 in the spring! Megan Shearer (Carlmont) comes from a team that isn’t afraid to put in the work and should be in the mix also. Alexandra Young (St Francis CC), Cassidy Burr (Santa Cruz), Courtney Destaillat (Aptos), Montana Miller (Half Moon Bay), and Stephanie Sewell (Los Gatos) all return to try and duplicate their top 10 finishes. Also watch 800 superstars Nisha Parmeshwar (Leland) and Athena Alarcon (Gilroy)!

The team race should come down to powerhouse squads St. Ignatius and Mountain View which were separated by only 5 points last year! Los Gatos and Las Lomas also have good young squads.

The freshman girls’ are always a mystery but girls’ teams rise in stock very quickly after this race each year!

The BOYS will put on a show! We think each year we’ve hit the ceiling with the quality of teams but 2009 will continue to lift the roof! The 5 fastest squads ever at Toro Park are here! Many state and section ranked teams and individuals also highlight the meet. Our CCS preview at Earlybird continues as we have 7 out of the top 10 ranked CCS teams here! Although, the Earlybird title went to Central Section powerhouse Madera from 2002-2007 and last year Redondo Union rolled into town from the Southern Section and dethroned the kings taking the title by 14 seconds over rising CCS power Mountain View! This year should be quite interesting in the section battle here. Mountain View returns and could have slammed the door shut on the competition but will be short-handed here. Their all-everything team leader Garrett Rowe is making his season debut at Stanford and Ian Myjer will be taking the ACT. At full strength, mark our words; this will be one of the best squads in the country!! They are currently ranked 1st overall in CCS, were CCS Champs last year, placed 3rd at state, and are the fastest team to ever grace Toro Park with their 80:13 team time. So, if CCS wants to regain the title, Carlmont or Bellarmine may need to rise to the occasion. Carlmont is ranked 1st in CCS DI and 25th out of all CA schools! They also won CCS last year. If the coaching change is smooth, they could pull it off. Bellarmine should mix it up well and cracked the overall state top 100 rankings at #60. The other sections will counter with Clovis West, Madera South, Enterprise, and Las Lomas, 4 teams ranked in the top 100 of all of CA schools! Clovis West is ranked 2nd in CS DI and 38th in all of CA! If they can close their 3-5 gap, they may steal the show! Madera South has the coach that led Madera to their incredible streak and his teams always show great here! They are ranked 3rd in CS DIII and won their section last year! Enterprise returns all of their scorers and is the top ranked squad in all of the Northern Section! Las Lomas returns from the North Coast Section and will mix it up great! Local favorites Salinas and Aptos have some great front running and Los Gatos, Serra, St. Ignatius, Monta Vista, Lynbrook, Willow Glen, and host North Monterey County should give chase. Others to watch include Madera, San Benito, SLV, and upset pick Watsonville.

The senior boys’ race will have a trio of runners each representing their section gunning for the win. Kellen Levy (Clovis West) returns from the valley to defend his title while he’ll contend once again with Mitch Moriarty (Aptos) from the CCS. Mitch could run away with it after his breakthrough 9:05 3200 in track! Zach Kaylor (Enterprise) will come from the North and may steal the whole show! He ran a great 4:16 1600 in track and could threaten late in the race. Dalton Guthrie (Bellarmine) missed the win by one second 2 years ago and may be back in the mix. David Perez (Salinas), with 1:57 and 4:23 credentials, could challenge if the pace is slow. Also watch Michael Reher (St. Ignatius), Joseph Pace (Clovis West), Michael Young (St Francis CC), and Nathan Lee (Carlmont) up-front. Michael Gemar (Las Lomas), KC Green (Las Lomas), Alan Rios (Sobrato), Luca Signore (Lynbrook), Nick Olsen (Saratoga), Miguel Gallegos (North Monterey County), Kranti Pedada (Monta Vista), Ian Karlssen (Valley Christian), Kyle McNulty (Scotts Valley), and Brian Knight (Watsonville) won’t be far back.

For the senior team race, Las Lomas is going for 3 wins in a row although Bellarmine has been closing quickly! SLV also has a good group and St. Ignatius, Escalon, and North Monterey County will give chase.

The junior boys’ race has defending champ Parker Schuh (Mountain View) who made his grand entrance into the sport here last year with his 15:58 win on way to a blazing 15:38 at state and 2007 winner Domenic D’Aquisto (Enterprise) locking horns for the tie-breaker! Domenic is coming back from a lacerated kidney during track but is at full strength now. If the two champs forget about Isaiah Lorenzo (Madera South) he could be our upset pick of the day the way his team works the summer months! Will Geiken (Los Gatos) will also be upset-minded as he comes off a great 9:20 3200 to lead the CCS frosh/soph group! Kyle Rae (Bellarmine) also topped the CCS lists for youngsters with his 4:23 1600! And, just for fun, throw in Ethan Scardina (Carlmont), the defending CCS DI Champ! Wow! Connor Billings (Clovis West), Bryan Crook (Mountain View), Carl Gracely (Las Lomas), Joseph Rivera (Willow Glen), Eddie Guzman (San Benito), Manuel Negrete (Alisal), Adrian Duran (St. Francis CC), Steven Mandac (Westmoor), Guillaume Hansel (Las Lomas), Nicky Lindley (Mountain View), and David Knight (Watsonville) should also be in the mix.

Mountain View returns to defend their team title but will have to deal with 2007 winner Carlmont and rising power Bellarmine! Madera South, Willow Glen, Enterprise, San Benito, and Las Lomas will also contend.

The sophomore boys’ will have Michael McCabe (Willow Glen) defending his title! He had a great first year on way to his 16:36 time at state! Mitch Martin (Half Moon Bay) and Jack Bordoni (Bellarmine) should battle once again for a top 3 finish while Clay Celum (Clovis West) and Cesar Aguilar (Half Moon Bay) try to close the gap from last year. For some great team running watch Seferino Hernandez, Aaron Alvarez, and Josue Hernandez (Madera South) lead their amazing squad! Also keep an eye on up-and-comers Francisco Salvador (Alisal), Gavin Ramos (Las Lomas), and Aubrey Myjer (Mountain View).

If there’s a lock for a team pick, Madera South is it here!! Bellarmine could keep them honest with their army of runners but if they don’t go out fast with the purple army it may be over as soon as the gun goes off! Mountain View, San Benito, Clovis West, Los Gatos, and Monta Vista can only hope for 3rd best here.

The freshmen boys’ race welcomes our newbies that seem to get smaller every year!

Since the meet will be at Toro Park once again, we’ll keep an eye on the clock and see if the Toro Park record books take some hits if the heat cooperates a bit more than it did last year! Matthew Petrillo (Los Gatos-2006) holds the park record at 15:12. That record should be quite safe here with top times around 15:40 more likely. The boys will have to dip under 15:45 to make the all-time top 25 list. We’re looking at 2-3 guys that could do that this weekend! Tori Tyler (Gunn-2004) blazed a 17:16 and threw down a mark that will be hard to challenge for quite some time. To give you some perspective, #2 on the all-time Toro list is 17:53! To make the top 25, the girls will have to run 18:35. We’re also looking at 2-3 girls that could do that here!

As far as team time records are concerned, Mountain View ran 80:13 at CCS last year to shave 32 seconds off the old record! The 16:02 average for their scoring 5 is safe for now with challenges coming later in the season if the same Mountain View group returns this year to take a shot. The girls’ team time record of 96:01 set by Los Gatos 3 years ago doesn’t seem as safe. Averaging 19:12 for their top 5 girls is quite special, but, if Carlmont comes in ready and Mountain View takes a shot, watch out! Good luck to all and we hope you enjoy the meet!


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