Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 CCS Distance State Meet Contenders

Here is what I have so far.  Remember only top 3 qualify to the CA state Track and Field meet unless you make the 2016 At-Large Time Standards.  Additions?  Changes?  Comments?

Girls 800m.
The favorites:  Mari Friedman Santa Cruz ('15 state meet qualifier)
Threats: Annalisa Crowe Menlo Atherton, Brianna Bilter St. Ignatius, Kelly Bishop Monta Vista
Wildcards:  JJ Escalera Fremont, Marisa Villegas San Benito, Anaya Ward Santa Cruz, Anna Christjansen Los Gatos

Boys 800m.
The favorite:  Benjamin Micallef Bellarmine
Threats:  Raul Barraza North Salinas, Alex Liebscher Pioneer, Rico Baxter St. Francis CC
Wildcards:  Marcus Avila Bellarmine, Ben Williams Burlingame, Kevin Anawalt Los Altos

Girls 1600m.
The favorite:  Gillian Meeks Gunn (defending section champion)
Threats:  Marisa Villegas San Benito, Elana Kamas Homestead, Marea Zlatunich Aptos
Wildcards: Kelly Bishop Monta Vista, Abbey Meck San Lorenzo Valley, Emily Janiczek St. Ignatius, Gia Kim St. Francis

Boys 1600m. 
The favorite: Kent Slaney Palo Alto
Threats: Luke McCartney Scotts Valley, Elijah Changco San Benito
Wildcards: Justin Robison Lynbrook, Alex Scales Bellarmine, Ben Zaeske Los Altos, Matt Richardson Bellarmine

Girls 3200m.
The favorite:  Cate Ratliff Santa Cruz (defending section champion)
Threats: Gillian Meeks Gunn, Niki Iyer Harker, Matti Peoples Aptos
Wildcards: Julia Lemak Mitty, Emily Skahill St. Francis, Lauren Jacob Los Altos, Caroline Gee Cupertino, Lindsay Allen Homestead

Boys 3200m.
The favorite: Justin Robison Lynbrook
Threats: Nolan Dozier Sobrato, Roman Munoz King City, Xander Olivero St. Francis
Wildcards: Graham Faust Half Moon Bay, Elijah Changco San Benito, Meika Beaudoin-Rousseau Bellarmine, Robert Miranda Menlo, Kevin Lehr St. Ignatius, John Ross Scotts Valley

Next:  2016 SJS Distance State Meet Contenders

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2016 NCS Distance State Meet Contenders

Here is what I have so far.  Remember only top 3 qualify to the CA state Track and Field meet unless you make the 2016 At-Large Time Standards.  Additions?  Changes?  Who are the freshmen that will contend? Comments?

Girls 800m.
The favorites:  Avi Perteete St. Mary's Berkeley, Heidi Fuhriman Monte Vista
Threats: Gillian Wagner Redwood, Sarah Cella Campolindo
Wildcards: Annaka Green Amador Valley, Alyssa Brewer California, Emilie Wylie Liberty, Elizabeth Rickey Irvington

Boys 800m.
The favorite: David Phair College Park
Threats: Niki Moore Campolindo, CJ Dowd University, Carson Kimball Maria Carrillo
Wildcards: Christian Gonzales Miramonte, Isaias Deleon De La Salle, Will Dunbar Petaluma

Girls 1600m.
The favorite: Rylee Bowen Sonoma Academy
Threats:  Brooke Starn Monte Vista, Glennis Murphy Redwood, Megan McCandless Granada
Wildcards:  Kai Bohannon Liberty, Alexandria Newsom James Logan, Meredith Corda Monte Vista, Delaney White Santa Rosa, Chloe Hansel Las Lomas, Cassidy Haskell Miramonte

Boys 1600m.
The favorite: Kellen O'Neill Arcata
Threats: Benry Sheehan Heritage, Jordan Kirby Newark Memorial, Stefan Bradley San Ramon Valley
Wildcards: David Frisbie Kennedy-Fremont, Nick Downs Bishop O'Dowd, Dawson Reckers Athenian, Mathew Salazar Casa Grande, Neil Braganza Dougherty Valley, Luca Mazzanti Santa Rosa

Girls 3200m.
The favorite:  Morgin Coonfield McKinleyville/Megan McCandless Granada
Threats:  Brooke Starn Monte Vista, Rylee Bowen Sonoma Academy
Wildcards: Grace Taylor Bishop O'Dowd, Hana Sun Campolindo, Meredith Corda Monte Vista, Delaney White Santa Rosa, Chloe Hansel Las Lomas, Cassidy Haskell Miramonte

Boys 3200m.
The favorite: Cooper Teare St. Joseph Notre Dame
Threats: Andy Ehrenberg Redwood, Brian Schulz El Molino, Nick Downs Bishop O'Dowd, Jared Yabu Campolindo
Wildcards: Alex Glavin College Prep, Cameron Gaskell Acalanes, Tom Robey Las Lomas, Anirudh Surapenani Dublin, Henry Fleming Marin Academy, Daniel Pride Santa Rosa, Timothy Chrisman Monte Vista, David Frisbie Kennedy-Fremont, Jordan Scobey Maria Carrillo, Jeremy Leary Sir Francis Drake

Next:  2016 CCS Distance State Meet Contenders

NorCal 2016 Track and Field Previews

It's hard to believe that the 2016 Track and Field season is fast approaching so that means it's time for the Track and Field previews. In the next month or so, look for previews for different Northern California sections and track/field events. Who are the state meet contenders in each section? Who are the NorCal athletes or teams with the talent to compete with the best at the California State Meet? Who are the best Track and Field athletes (male and female) in NorCal? Who will be the most improved? What is the strongest event in NorCal? What is the toughest event in any NorCal section to qualify for the state meet?

Feel free to comment below. I will start out with the NCS distance state contenders first.

Photo to the left of Valley Christian SJ thrower Elena Bruckner is courtesy of Jim Gensheimer.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Catching up with Granada senior runner, Megan McCandless...

Today we chat with Granada senior runner Megan McCandless. This past season, Megan had her best cross country season to date with multiple course records, a section championship, a 2nd place finish at the California state meet which qualified her for NXN.

1) What other sports have you played aside from cross country and track and field? When did you start running? What were your PRs in track before high school?
I have always enjoyed running. When I was in elementary school, my dad would participate in community races and I would run the kids' mile. Because I liked running, I wanted to join a competitive team. My parents made me try a bunch of other sports first, though. I had to try softball, volleyball, and basketball before I was allowed to run more. In seventh grade, my parents finally let me join a USATF club team, the Pleasanton Heat. My PRs in track before high school were 5:15ish for the mile and 10:48 for the 3000m.

2) What were some of your proudest accomplishments during your first three years in high school in both sports?
Some of my proudest accomplishments during my first three years of track and cross country were placing 8th at last year's XC State Meet and qualifying to State my Freshman and Sophomore years in Track.

3) When do you feel like you started to embrace running and it became really important to you?
I really started to embrace running when I joined the Pleasanton Heat, and then it became even more
important to me when I started running for Granada.  At Granada, there was such a positive team
atmosphere and the Seniors really motivated me. Now, with all the Freshmen on our team, I want to do well so they can see what is possible.

4) What does a typical week look like for you as far as training? Morning runs? Weight work? 
Total weekly mileage? Longest run? Pace during most of your runs? Usual training partners?
A typical week generally has two workouts mid-week and a long run on Saturday. During the main part of last season, I doubled five days a week in a cross country first period class. I also went to the gym about two times per week. I normally train with the Varsity boys. My runs are at typically 7 minutes/mile or a bit faster, although there will be some runs where we go under 6 minutes for the last mile. My longest long run was 14 miles, and I have run a lot of 12 milers. I normally cross train on  Sundays. Biking is my favorite cross training activity. All together my mileage was 55-60 miles per week most of the season.

Here is the week of the EBAL center meet:
Monday: morning-4 miles, afternoon-easy 6 miles plus strides
Tuesday: morning-4 miles, afternoon - easy 4 miles as a pre-race
Wednesday: race day- 7 miles, including warm-up, race, and cool-down.
Thursday: morning- 4 miles, afternoon - 6 miles plus strides
Friday: morning- 4 miles, afternoon  - 5 miles hilly. Lift weights
Saturday: 14 mile long run
Sunday:  Bike for about an hour and lift weights.
Total: 58 miles

5) Did you do anything different this past summer in terms of training?
This past summer I put in more mileage than I have before, and my mileage really increased once school started. I also biked a bit more.  Mostly, it has been a continuation of my training of the past three years. Also, Granada puts on its own running camp at Point Reyes, which helps with team bonding.

6) Looking back at your past season, what do you feel were your 3 best races? 
I feel that my best race was NXN, second-best EBAL Championships, and third-best State. At NXN, I  came in with no expectations; I was just incredibly happy to be there and raced only nine seconds slower than the State Championships in far worse conditions. It was nice to see Cate Ratliff do so well at NXN.  At EBAL, I broke the course record by 27 seconds (2.95 miles in 16:30) which really gave me a confidence boost. At State I was very happy with my time and second place behind Gillian Meeks who ran a terrific race.

7) Who are your coaches and how have they helped you get to your current level? What have you learned from them?
My USATF coach was Kevin McCarthy. He inspired me to be competitive in running while still enjoying it. Once I got into high school, Coach Mattern (Noel) really worked with me to do my best. He forced me to push myself harder than I ever thought I could, and it worked. He had also created a strong distance program with a great team atmosphere. My freshman year was Granada's third year winning EBAL and NCS in a row so we had an expectation of excellence. I felt if I didn't run my absolute best, then I would let down the team; it really motivated me to do well. This year, Coach Mattern's brother Coach Jeremy joined Granada's team. He added a positive spirit to the team that really helped us excel this year. He taught me that even if I have a bad race, I have to learn from it and then be satisfied with how I raced.  In the past, I would beat myself up if I didn’t meet my pace goal or set a PR regardless of the conditions.

8) Tell us a bit about your NXN experience. What were some of the highlights? 
I absolutely loved the experience at NXN, and I'm so proud that five Northern California girls qualified as individuals.  During my freshman year, I thought that it would be so cool if I could qualify, but I never really thought I could, so it was a dream come true. I loved watching the Elite Athlete Question and Answer session, being able to run with German Fernandez, and having Mo Farah give us a high-five before the race.  The pro athletes are amazing and friendly, and it was interesting hearing about their lives.  The race itself was a great experience and I enjoyed it immensely. It was so different to run in a pack of other fast girls which challenged and motivated me. It was also nice rooming and swapping training stories with Morgin Coonfield.

9) Favorite XC invitational? Favorite XC course? Favorite opponent(s)? Favorite XC workout? Favorite long run? Favorite TF invitational? Favorite TF event? Favorite TF workout? Favorite free-time activity?
My favorite XC Invitational is Clovis because both the Granada team and I have done well there.
My favorite XC course is Shadow Cliffs. It is pretty flat and at just under 3 miles you can run some very fast times. Also, it is where Granada has won EBAL, and even finishing 2nd this year was still a plus.
My favorite opponent is Brooke Starn from Monte Vista. Whenever we race, we both run super fast
times and it is a nice change from running by myself.
My favorite XC workout is either 4x1 mile at 5k pace or 5x1000m in Sycamore Grove Park at 5k pace. I love the longer repeats.We normally do all of our long runs in Sycamore Grove Park, so my favorite long run must be there, but the longer the run, the better.
My favorite TF Invitational is the Dublin Distance Fiesta. I love how it is focused on the distance events and how many heats of each event are scheduled.
My favorite TF event is the 3200m.
My favorite TF workout is 400m repeats. I feel like I can keep running them forever, no matter how hard it is to run each 400.
My favorite free-time activity is reading; I especially love sci-fi novels. When I can get away for the
weekend, I love backpacking and hiking in the summer and cross country skiing and biathlon racing
(skiing and shooting a 22 rifle) in the winter.

10) You are still in the midst of making your college decision. What are some of the key factors 
that will determine your decision?
I want to study engineering, so I've been focusing on schools with excellent engineering programs.  I also want to broaden my experiences and be of service to the country, so the East Coast is appealing and I am even considering the military academies.  While I want to continue running in college, the education is most important to me, so I am torn between running Division 1 or Division 3.  I used 2 of my official recruiting trips plus visited a number of colleges unofficially with my parents.

11) Looking ahead to the spring, what races are you most looking forward to and what are some of your goals?
I was disappointed with the end of my track season last year, so my primary goal is to qualify for the State Track Meet this year.

12) Anything you would like to add.
A big thanks to all my coaches and teammates. They have made running so much fun and rewarding.
Also, thanks to everyone I have raced against for making the races better and more exciting. Thanks to my dad for helping me cross train. And thank you for interviewing me.

Thank you very much for your time Megan! AJC

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Top 10 NorCal Cross Country runners this decade 2010-2015 (boys & girls)

Feel free to comment below on who you think has been the runner (boy and girl) of this decade to date. Please note that the runners below are listed alphabetically. What runners would you add to the list below that you think also should be considered. Let's stick to cross country success for this list. 

Domenic D'Acquisto Enterprise (NS)
Yohannes Estifanos Milpitas (CCS)
Chris Foster Los Gatos (CCS)
Will Geiken Los Gatos
Aidan Goltra Las Lomas/Campolindo (NCS)
Richard Ho Leland (CCS)
Blair Hurlock De La Salle (NCS)
Fred Huxham Redwood (NCS)
Thomas Joyce Campolindo
Chris Kigar El Camino (SJS)
John Lawson Sir Francis Drake (NCS)
Luis Luna Piner (NCS)
Daniel Milechman Tamalpais (NCS)
Aubrey Myjer Mountain View (CCS)
Trevor Reinhart Marin Academy (NCS)
Justin Robison Lynbrook (CCS)
Parker Schuh Mountain View (CCS)
Steven Sum Saratoga (CCS)
Cooper Teare St. Joseph Notre Dame (NCS)
Michael Vernau Davis (SJS)

Morgin Coonfield McKinleyville (NCS)
Kendall Derry Bella Vista (SJS)
Vanessa Fraser Scotts Valley (CCS)
Karlie Garcia Oakmont (SJS)
Chloe Hansel Las Lomas (CCS)
Nikki Hiltz Aptos (CCS)
Lizzie Lacy Menlo (CCS)
Brighie Leach Campolindo (NCS)
Anna Maxwell San Lorenzo Valley (CCS)
Julia Maxwell Branson (NCS)
Megan McCandless Granada (NCS)
Gillian Meeks Gunn (CCS)
Julie Nacouzi Montgomery (NCS)
Fiona O'Keeffe Davis (SJS)
Jena Pianin Amador Valley (NCS)
Sarah Robinson Gunn (CCS)
Cate Ratliff Santa Cruz (CCS)
Brooke Starn Monte Vista (NCS)
Carrie Verdon Campolindo (NCS)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

CCS parade set for Jan. 10 (Half Moon Bay)

A parade for the Half Moon Bay cross country team (and football team) for winning CCS. How many other cross country teams got a parade for winning their section?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

USATF Level 1 Clinic Notes thanks to coach Ken Grace

For those of you that have passed the USATF Level 1 clinic or are planning to take it in the future, here are clinic notes thanks to coach Ken Grace. Some great links covering the following:
Philosophy and Ethics
Training Theory
Vertical Jumps
Horizontal Jumps
and lots of other great links.

Donation to Cross Country Express

If you have enjoyed the pre-season, season and post-season Cross Country coverage on this website this past fall, a kind donation would be appreciated.  You can do so at the link to the right via PayPal. 

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

Thank you to all of you that have contributed already.  It's very much appreciated. Those of you that can't donate or feel no reason to donate, no problem. I will always appreciate your frequent visits to this site.

Friday, December 18, 2015

California Cross Country Awards

Here are my awards for the entire state which is very similar to the awards I posted earlier for Northern California. Feel free to chime in with your additions or nominate other individuals or teams you think are more deserving for any of the awards I listed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


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

Saturday, January 9, 2016
  • Session I: 9am-12pm
  • Lunch: 12pm-1pm
  • Session II: 1pm-4pm
Roundtable Leaders
  • Chris Puppione – Clinic Co-Director
  • Head Coach, Cardinal Newman High School
  • Jason Oswalt – Clinic Co-Director
  • Head Coach, Amador Valley High School
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.
  • Event is open to the first 30 coaches to register. 
Contact Chris Puppione ( to register for the event, as well as to receive further information. This event is for HIGH SCHOOL COACHES ONLY.

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

November 29, 2015

Dear Coaches,
Now that cross country season is almost in the books and the track and field season looms on the not-so-distant horizon, we would like to invite you to join us for a clinic unlike any other in the state of California.

On January 9, 2016, we will be hosting The NorCal Distance Coaches Collaborative Roundtable in Pleasanton, CA at Amador Valley High School. 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. This clinic is unique in format and concept.

Many of us have attended clinics over the years, and although we have been lucky enough to hear some great speakers, the part most of us look forward to is the aftermath—sitting around with your peers, swapping stories, discussing training ideas, asking questions, all while enjoying some good food and drink.

We have decided to get rid of the lectures and ditch the conventional while getting straight to the good stuff—some high-energy shop talk with some of our sport’s finest coaches in a relaxed environment full of friends and soon-to-be friends.  At this event, the attendees will choose the topics. Whether you want to rehash the last cross country season or talk about the track season ahead, you tell us and we will put it on the agenda.

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 Chris Puppione ( to sign-up for the event.  

Upon receipt of your email, Chris will ask you to submit the following for the clinic by Sunday, December 27, 2015:
  • 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.  

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

Prior to the event, Chris and Jason 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.  

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 9th 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, Chris and Jason 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 Chris Puppione (

Be a part of the excitement—be a part of the conversation. Join us January 9, 2016 at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, CA for The 8th Annual NorCal Distance Coaches’ Collaborative Roundtable.

Yours in running,
Chris Puppione
Jason Oswalt

List of Attendees
  1. Chris Puppione  Cardinal Newman High School
  2. Jason Oswalt  Amador Valley High School
  3. Albert Caruana Crystal Springs Uplands School
  4. Pat McCrystle  Bellarmine College Preparatory
  5. Peter Brewer Northgate High School
  6. Dave Frank Central Catholic (Portland, OR)
  7. Gus Ibarra North Monterey County
  8. Ruth Seabrook Northgate
  9. Walt Lange Jesuit
  10. Jeff Gardiner Lick-Wilmerding
  11. Francisco Cornejo Palma
  12. Josh Small Valley Christian SJ
  13. Tim Hunter San Ramon Valley
  14. Tony Fong St. Joseph Notre Dame
  15. Chris Williams Dublin
  16. Andy Lindquist Campolindo
  17. Andrew Lowe Berkeley
  18. Eric Morford Liberty
  19. Andrew Hutchinson Crystal Springs Uplands School
  20. Vince Sturgis Benecia
  21. Sean Cameron Kohles Skyline
  22. Doug Chase Scotts Valley
  23. Jeanine Holmlund Piedmont
  24. John Hotchkiss Mission San Jose
  25. Jen Derego Heritage
  26. Pierre Chan Mercy Burlingame
  27. Tim Wallen Novato
  28. Kevin Ostenberg Del Oro
  29. Preston Hamilton
  30. Craig Lee

Monday, December 14, 2015

2015 NorCal Cross Country Awards

Now that the 2015 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
Feel free to share your comments below.

Most Valuable Runner (boys)-Michael Vernau Davis (SJS)
Most Valuable Runner (girls)-Cate Ratliff Santa Cruz (CCS)

Most Impressive Performance (boys)-Cooper Teare at CA State XC Meet
Most Impressive Performance (girls)-Fiona O'Keeffe at Stanford Invitational

Most Impressive Performance (boys' team)-Jesuit (SJS) at CA State Meet
Most Impressive Performance (girls' team)-Davis (SJS) at CA State Meet and NXN

Most Inspirational (boys)-Henry Fleming Marin Academy (NCS)
Most Inspirational (girls)-Morgin Coonfield McKinleyville (NCS)

Most Improved Runner (boys)-Zachary Katzman Skyline (OAK)
Most Improved Runner (girls)-Kristen Leung Lowell (SF)

Lifetime Achievement Award (boys)-Justin Robison Lynbrook (CCS)
Lifetime Achievement Award (girls)-Brooke Starn Monte Vista (NCS)/Megan McCandless Granada (NCS)

Buster Posey (rookie of the year)-Liam Anderson Redwood (NCS)
Buster Posey (rookie of the year)-Cassidy Haskell Miramonte (NCS)

Best Robin to Batman (best supporting actor)-Sean Kurdy Jesuit (SJS)
Best Robin to Batman (best supporting actress)-Mari Friedman Santa Cruz (CCS)

Best Three Amigos-Michael Vernau, Kellen Browning, Nick Borowsky Davis (SJS)
Best Three Amigas-Fiona O'Keeffe, Sofia Castiglioni, Abigail Fisk Davis (SJS)

Boys Coach of the Year (Directing)-Walt Lange Jesuit (SJS)
Girls Coach of the Year (Directing)-Bill Gregg Davis (SJS)

Any other awards?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

2015 All NorCal High School XC Teams - Boys & Girls

Now that the Cross Country season is complete, it's time to look back and reflect on the accomplishments of all NorCal runners. Feel free to comment on what runners you feel belong on the All NorCal HS XC Teams for the 2015 season. Who are the NorCal runners of the year? Who are the best runners in each section (NS, NCS, SJS, OAK, SF and CCS)? Who are the best runners by grade? The team will be posted around Christmas time by Hank Lawson on his site at If you feel like you know the majority of runners in Northern California and would like to be a voter on the team, feel free to email Hank at and let him know of your interest. 

As a reminder, here is last year's team:

Davis Jr Michael Vernau 10th place at Footlocker Nationals

Photo courtesy of Michael Vernau's instragram.

Cross Country races today

Footlocker National Championship race
Live webcast:

USATF Club XC Championship at Golden Gate Park today.
Live Results:

USATF Junior Olympic Cross Country at Albuquerque, New Mexico:

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Top 10 Hayward times at NCS meet have been updated

Top 10 NCS Boys/Girls Cross Country Championship (Individuals)
Top 10 NCS Boys/Girls Cross Country Championship (Times)

Fastest boys' team times at Hayward from 1999, 2001, '02, '04-'15
1) De La Salle '13 77:26
2) St. Joseph Notre Dame '13 77:38
3) Campolindo '11 77:53
4) Campolindo '08 77:55
5) Petaluma '08 78:02
6) Campolindo '13 78:14
7) San Ramon Valley '11 78:29
8) Piner '11 78:34
9) Petaluma '07 78:52
10) Monte Vista '07 78:59

Fastest girs' team times at Hayward from 1999, 2001, '02, '04-'15
1) Campolindo '11 90:29
2) Campolindo '13 91:04
3) Monte Vista '15 91:36
4) Carondelet '06 91:47
5) Campolindo '10 91:48
5) Campolindo '14 91:48
6) Granada '15 91:53
7) Carondelet '07 92:14
8) Maria Carrillo '04 92:42
9) Bishop O'Dowd '04 92:46
10) Livermore '08 92:54

The Hayward course will more than likely be altered next year due to construction on the Hayward HS campus. I am not sure if that is just for next year or if that will be a permanent change.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

All-Mercury News 1st, 2nd and Honorable Mention Teams (In SJ Mercury region)

Central Coast Section (CCS) 2016 CBEDs have been posted


Here are the teams moving for next season:
Los Gatos, Lincoln up to Division I
Oak Grove, Watsonville down to Division II
Gilroy, Valley Christian SJ, Aragon up to Division II
St. Ignatius, Mt. Pleasant down to Division III
Live Oak up to Division III
San Jose down to Division IV
Castilleja down to Division V
University Prep Academy moves into Division V

Los Gatos, Los Altos, Lincoln up to Division I
Oak Grove, Watsonville, North Salinas down to Division II
Aragon, Valley Christian SJ up to Division II
Sobrato, St. Ignatius down to Division III
North Monterey County up to Division III
San Jose down to Division IV
University Prep Academy moves into Division V

Monday, December 07, 2015

Catching up with Gunn senior runner, Gillian Meeks...

Today we chat with Gunn senior runner, Gillian Meeks. This past XC season, Meeks had her best season to date that included individual victories at the Stanford Invitational (Div 2 race), Clovis Invitational (Div 1) and SCVAL (El Camino) final. Her two best races of the season followed her league championship victory as she raced to an individual title at the CCS (Division 2) race with a personal record 17:17.6 at the Crystal Springs course. Two weeks later, Meeks faced some of the top runners in the state in the Division 2 final and you can read about her finish place below. This interview took place before her NXN race where she placed in 46th place.

1) What was the plan heading into the state meet as far as strategy and any time goals? Did you have any specific runners that you felt would be your biggest challenge?
My plan heading into the state meet was to sit off the back of the lead pack through mile 1, and then just try to hang onto the leaders for the rest of the race and try to find one last gear to kick at the end of the race.  I knew going into the race that Amanda Gehrich was the favorite and that most people would not have picked me to win with such a strong field of runners like Megan McCandless, Claire Graves, and Amanda Gehrich. However, after my solo 17:44 in 90 degree heat at the Clovis Invite I knew that I had the fitness to keep up with these girls and was definitely in contention to finish in the top 3.  Going into the race, I had thought that in order to win I would probably have to run under 17:25 and wear out Amanda Gehrich’s kick so that it wouldn’t come down to a sprint at the end.  I personally thought that winning was somewhat of a long-shot, so I went into the race just wanting to give myself the best shot of running a big PR and finishing as high as possible.

2) Tell us about the race itself and how it unfolded for you from the start, through 1 mile and 2 miles as well as the finish.
I got out decently fast in order to get in contact with the leaders, but I wasn’t worried about trying to be right in the front of the race from the gun.  Through the first mile I felt very relaxed and smooth and gradually worked my way up so that I was in around 4th/5th place, at the back of the lead pack behind Amanda Gehrich and Claire Graves.  During the second mile I felt the pace start to slow somewhat, so I decided to take the lead of the front pack and push up the hill.  That’s when Amanda, Megan McCandless, and I broke off from the rest of the pack.  At the 2nd split all three of us were in a line across the course and pushing the pace. During the last mile Megan got a small lead on me and I, in turn, got a small lead on Amanda.  Megan stayed about 20 meters ahead of me for most of the last mile until we rounded the corner onto the pavement for the final 400 meters.  My coach, PattiSue Plumer, had pointed out this spot as a great place to make a move, so when I saw that Megan wasn’t extending her lead I started kicking with everything I had left.  Once I passed her I could see the finish line and focused on that as I kicked as hard as I could.

3) When did it hit you that you are a California state cross country champion? What was your reaction? Who was there to celebrate with you?
Until I was about 10 meters from the finish line, I was still worried someone was going to catch me.  But once I crossed the finish line in first place, I felt a mixture of disbelief, elation, and exhaustion.  I had given the race my 100% effort and it definitely took me a few minutes before I could actually comprehend what had just happened.  Once I recovered a little and saw my family, friends, and coach beaming at me, it hit me that I had actually just become a California state cross country champion and had run a huge PR in the process.

4) Tell us about your coach Pattisue Plumer and how she has helped you get to this point in your running career.
Having PattiSue as my coach has been such a blessing for me throughout my running career.  PattiSue is focused much more on long-term development rather than running super fast times early on and never progressing after that. I am so grateful that she saw the big picture for me as a runner and didn’t have me jump into crazy hard training just for the short term success.  I have gradually increased mileage and intensity from my freshman year until now and I still have a lot more potential to improve in college.  I also think a huge thing PattiSue has done for me is keeping it fun.  It’s easy to get carried away with the competitiveness of our sport and make running super stressful and intense.  PattiSue doesn’t worry about me performing at a super high level every race I run; she wants me to be at my best for the meets that really matter.  PattiSue really cares about me as a person, not just as an athlete, and never sacrifices my mental or emotional health for athletic success.  It’s also amazing to have someone who has competed at the very highest level of our sport as my coach.  She has so many experiences in races that she shares with my team and her fierce competitive drive definitely rubs off on us all. J

5) From your first cross country experience as a freshman to now, who are the teammates and/or opposing runners who you feel have contributed to your success?
My biggest role model as a freshman and sophomore was definitely my teammate Sarah Robinson.  Training behind her everyday showed me what it means to be one of the best runners in the country.   Her successes motivated me to never get complacent, because I wanted to be as fast as her one day.  I also think a huge factor that has contributed to my success has been training with the varsity boys on my team.  Pushing myself to keep up with the boys in every workout has helped me gain so much strength and mental toughness.  Some of the opposing runners who have motivated me to become the best runner I can be include: Lauren Jacob, Caroline Gee, Elena Kamas, Cate Ratliff, Niki Iyer, Danielle Katz, Vanessa Fraser, and Anna Maxwell

6) When do you feel like you made your biggest jump as a runner during your high school career and what do you feel led to your improvement?
I feel like I made my biggest jump as a runner during my junior year cross country season.  That season two of the best freshman in the state, Caroline Gee and Elena Kamas, entered my league, section, and division.  They gave me great competition in every league race that season and pushed me to huge PR’s.  That was the first cross country season I had where I was winning big meets and ranked highly in the state.  That season my proudest accomplishments were winning the Stanford Invitational and the CCS Division 1 title.  I felt that I gained a lot of strength and experience leading big races from my junior year cross country season.

7) What does a typical week look like for you in terms of training Monday through Sunday? Any morning runs? Strength training? Longest run? Typical mileage? Pace of most of your runs? Typical workouts?? 
Typical Week:
Monday-Longer Interval Track workout or Tempo
Tues-Recovery run
Wed-Longer recovery run
Thurs-Shorter Interval Track workout or fartlek
Fri-Easy run
Sat-Race or Long run or Long Progression run
Sun-Rest or Swim
Currently, my typical mileage during the season is 40-45 miles, but in the off season I now run 45-50 miles per week.
The pace of most of my normal runs ranges from 7:20-8:00 pace.
Typical workouts include any sort of tempos, 400 repeats with short recovery, and 1000’s at threshold pace.

8) Favorite XC Invitational? Favorite XC course? Favorite XC workout? Favorite long run? Favorite opponent? Favorite TF Invitational? Favorite TF event? Favorite TF workout? Favorite Gunn XC and/or TF tradition, Favorite free time activity?
Favorite XC Invite: Stanford Invite, Favorite XC Course: Woodward Park, Favorite XC workout: Progression runs ending in 5k race pace, Favorite long run: there are so many great trails where we train, but some of my favorite places for long runs include Arastradero Preserve, Rancho San Antonio, and Black Mountain.
Some of the people who I race often and enjoy racing against include: Lauren Jacob, Caroline Gee, Elena Kamas, Cate Ratliff, and Niki Iyer
Favorite TF Invite: Stanford Invite, Favorite TF event: 3200, Favorite TF workout: 400’s at mile race pace with 1 min recovery, Favorite Gunn XC Tradition: So many!  One strange tradition we have is to hit stop signs as hard as we can when we pass them on runs and see who can make the loudest noise.
Favorite free time activity: hiking, watching TV, hanging out with friends J

9) You will be competing at NXN this Saturday. What led to your decision to run at that race as opposed to taking the Footlocker route?
The biggest reason why I chose to run at NXN was because I had the opportunity to go straight to the National meet whereas with Footlocker I would have the stress and pressure of running another regional race.  Qualifying for NXN was a goal of mine all season, and I am so excited to race there on Saturday!!!!

10) Now that you are a senior, what do you feel like you have learned the most from doing cross country that have helped you become a better runner and person?
I think cross country has taught me so much about determination and discipline.  You can’t be a successful runner without those two qualities, and I think having determination and discipline helps in every aspect of life, from school to future jobs.  I also think cross country has taught me a lot about delayed gratification.  There are many times in running when you put in all the hard work for a long time, but don’t see the results of your hard work until much later.

11) You will be attending Harvard next year. How many other schools were in the mix and what led to your decision to choosing Harvard?
I took all five of my official visits and each school had very different atmospheres and programs.  I was unsure of what environment would suit me best, so I wanted to make sure I had a good mix.  In the end, it was a very hard decision between two schools but I felt that Harvard had the best combination of great academics and great athletics.  I also liked that Harvard is an up and coming program and am very excited to be a part of the program’s growth.

12) Anything else you would like to add.
I always enjoy reading your interviews with runners and it’s an honor to actually be interviewed. J

Thank you very much for your time Gillian! AJC

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Congratulations to Davis Sr girls for their 2nd place finish at NXN

Davis girls had one of the all-time greatest cross country seasons for a girls' team in Northern California. They won their section meet without their #1 runner Fiona O'Keeffe and then finished 2nd at the California state meet in Division I just 2 points behind nationally ranked Great Oak. Just for perspective, here are the NorCal teams that have finished in the top 5 at the California State Meet in Division I since the first state meet in 1987. As you can see, the 3 SJS teams and Monte Vista have really performed well at the state meet recently but what the Davis girls did during this post season is truly remarkable. Note that from 1987 to 2010, the only NorCal team to break into the top 5 in girls Division I was Lowell.

Lowell (SF) 1999 5th place 98:52
St. Francis, Sacramento (SJS) 2011 4th place 95:21
St. Francis, Sacramento (SJS) 2012 2nd place 92:42
Davis (SJS) 2012 5th place 94:14
Davis (SJS) 2013 2nd place 91:02
Bella Vista (SJS) 2014 2nd place 93:50
St. Francis, Sacramento (SJS) 2014 3rd place 95:19
Davis (SJS) 2015 2nd place 89:31
Monte Vista (NCS) 5th place 93:09

They finished in 2nd place at NXN with O'Keeffe as their 4th runner. Last year, she was 4th overall in the race. A healthy O'Keeffe would have had them a lot closer to Fayetteville Manlius although beating Manlius at NXN has proven to be an incredibly tough task. 9 national championships in the last 10 years is really hard to comprehend especially since they are a program with small numbers.

Here is my interview with coach Bill Gregg in October 5th 2007 if you are interested in learning a little more about the Davis program. I will post a follow up interview in the near future.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

NXN and Footlocker West Region top results

Nike Cross Nationals

Girls Team
2nd Place Davis (SJS) 144 points (Only behind 9-time champions Fayetteville Manlius)

Girls Individual
11 Cate Ratliff 17:23.9
18 Megan McCandless 17:30.4
33 Morgin Coonfield 17:53.1
46 Gillian Meeks 18:08.1
86 Brooke Starn 18:35.4

Boys Individual
55 Justin Robison 15:53.0

Footlocker West Region

Girls Seeded Race results:
6 Glennis Murphy 18:21.9 (qualifies for Footlocker National meet)
12 Niki Iyer 18:43.0 (last qualifier ran 18:29.1)

Boys Seeded Race results:
8 Michael Vernau 15:49.4 (qualifies for Footlocker National meet)
11 Cooper Teare 15:52.4 (missed by .01)

Former Pacific Grove runner, Ann Trason

Arguably the greatest American ultrarunner of all time, Ann Trason won an unprecedented 14 times at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run while winning and setting course records at many other ultra races. But instead of embracing her incredible feats, particularly in the 80-90's, a naturally introverted and modest Ann prefers to discuss the joy she feels on the trails and "competing with herself" versus those that toed the line with her.

In this 3rd edition of "15 Hours" we follow the great Ann Trason on a day spent camping in the mountains of Bishop hiking in the High Sierras along with her dog. She opens up and shares her thoughts about her competitive years, why she shies away from the spotlight, her love of Western States and her thoughts on her portrayal in the best selling book "Born to Run".

Thursday, December 03, 2015

TBT - Matt Giusto, San Mateo HS winning 1983 Kinney National Meet

To the left, senior Matt Giusto winning the 1983 Kinney National Meet (now Footlocker) at Balboa Park in San Diego. One week earlier, Matt finished in 3rd place at the West Region race in Woodward Park. Tracy Garrison (14:54.0) and Calvin Gaziano (14:54.2) were the first two finishers with Giusto in 3rd at 15:01.9. Back then, only the top 8 advanced to the national meet for a total of 32 competitors. You can check out the complete results of the Western Region race at this LINK. Giusto upset the favored west duo to win the national meet as he was the only runner to break 15 minutes on the Balboa Park course. He ran 14:54.1 with Garrison in 2nd at 15:04.5. Complete results of that race are here at this LINK. Giusto went on to have a very successful career at the University of Arizona. He qualified for the 1996 Olympic team in the 5000m. He also ran a 3:55.63 mile at Kezar stadium to become the first runner to break the 4 minute mile in San Francisco. You can check out the race in the video below.

5 NorCal girls racing at NXN this weekend

Photo to the left courtesy of Monica Ratliff.

From left to right: Morgin Coonfield, McKinleyville (NCS), Cate Ratliff, Santa Cruz (CCS), Gillian Meeks, Gunn (CCS), Megan McCandless, Granada (NCS) and Brooke Starn, Monte Vista (NCS).

Davis (SJS) girls below also ready for NXN tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Keep Coach Riley at SMHS

If you would like to sign the petition to keep Coach Ed Riley at San Mateo HS, go to this LINK.

Speaking from experience, I can say that Ed Riley is one of the finest human beings you will ever run into the coaching world. I started the track and field team at Crystal Springs in 2002 and for many years, Ed shared the San Mateo track with my team until the district stepped in and said we couldn't practice with his team anymore. It definitely was not his decision. This also touches close to home as I too lost my coaching job at San Mateo HS due to a teacher wanting to coach the cross country team. She only lasted a few seasons and I have been at Crystal Springs for 20 years now. Hopefully the powers that be can be swayed in allowing Ed to coach the track and field team in the spring. He is a good man and doesn't deserve to lose his coaching position.

Monday, November 30, 2015

All-Time California XC State Meet Podium Teams '87-'15 (Girls)

If you spot any errors, please let me know in the comment section below.

California State Champions photos thanks to Thomas Benjamin

Division IV Girls (Morgin Coonfield leading eventual state champion, Cate Ratliff)
Division V Girls (Rylee Bowen on far right, Kiera Marshall to her left and Emily Perez on right)
Division II Girls (Gillian Meeks in the middle with Megan McCandless on the right)
Division V Boys (State champion Cooper Teare on the right with Henry Fleming in the middle)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

All-Time California XC State Meet Podium Teams '87-'15 (Boys)

Below is an updated list of the podium teams (top 3) for every CA state meet race since the first one in 1987. The bolded numbers are additions from this year's state meet.

If you find any errors, please email me the corrections at

Girls will be posted tomorrow.

NorCal Podium finishers at CA state XC meet

Division III Girls (Teams)
1) Aptos (CCS) My interview with coach Dan Gruber on Oct 17, 2008

Division III Girls (Individuals)
2) Cassy Haskell Miramonte (NCS)
4) Marea Zlatunich Aptos (CCS)
6) Hana Sun Campolindo (NCS)
7) Chloe Hansel Las Lomas (NCS)
8) Sarah Anderson Vista del Lago (SJS)
9) Annie Ware Rio Americano (SJS)

Division IV Girls (Teams)
2) Santa Cruz (CCS) My interview with coach Greg Brock on Sep 27, 2010

Division IV Girls (Individuals)
1) Cate Ratliff Santa Cruz (CCS)
2) Morgin Coonfield McKinleyville (NCS)
4) Mari Friedman Santa Cruz (CCS)
5) Niki Iyer Harker (CCS)
6) Abby Meck San Lorenzo Valley (CCS)
7) Cassi Land Sonora (SJS)
9) Anastasia Karnaze Amador (SJS)

Division III Boys (Individuals)
5) David Frisbie JFK-Fremont (NCS)
8) Jared Yabu Campolindo (NCS)
10) Remington Breeze Vista del Lago (SJS)

Division IV Boys (Individuals)
5) Jeremy Leary Sir Francis Drake (NCS)
6) Roman Munoz King City (CCS)
7) Brian Schulz El Molino (NCS)
9) Robert Miranda Menlo School (CCS)

Division V Girls (Teams)
2) St. Joseph Notre Dame (NCS) My interview with coach Tony Fong Mar 29, 2012

Division V Girls (Individuals)
1) Rylee Bowen Sonoma Academy (NCS)
2) Kiera Marshall St. Joseph Notre Dame (NCS)
3) Katarina Stashyn Vacaville Christian (SJS)
4) Grace Dailey Branson (NCS)
5) Emily Perez St. Joseph Notre Dame (NCS)
6) Brianna Bourne College Prep (NCS)

Division I Boys (Teams)
3) Jesuit (SJS) My interview with coach Walt Lange Oct 14, 2009

Division I Boys (Individuals)
8) Michael Vernau Davis (SJS)

Division II Girls (Teams)
2) Bella Vista (SJS) My interview with coach Melanie Cleland Feb 5, 2015

Division II Girls (Individuals)
1) Gillian Meeks Gunn (CCS)
2) Megan McCandless Granada (NCS)
4) Kendall Derry Bella Vista (SJS)
5) Glennis Murphy Redwood (NCS)

Division V Boys (Teams)
2) Marin Academy Interview with coach Ken Ellingboe coming up

Division V Boys (Individuals)
1) Cooper Teare St. Joseph Notre Dame (NCS)
4) Henry Fleming Marin Academy (NCS)
6) Chris Morzenti Mt. Shasta (NS)
7) Dawson Reckers Athenian (NCS)
10) Ben Harper Trinity (NS)

Division I Girls (Teams)
2) Davis (SJS) My interview with coach Bill Gregg Oct 5, 2007

Division I Girls (Individuals)
2) Brooke Starn Monte Vista (NCS)
5) Kristen Leung Lowell (SF)
8) Fiona O'Keeffe Davis (SJS)
9) Sofia Castiglioni Davis (SJS)

Division II Boys (Individuals)
2) Justin Robison Lynbrook (CCS)

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