Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Menlo-Atherton cross country shines as Half Moon Bay’s Artichoke Invitational back at full force

Here is something that is super rare, a score of 15 at an invitational. Following article from today's San Mateo Journal by Terry Bernal.

Half Moon Bay’s host Artichoke Invitational has long been a benchmark meet to signal the start of the high school cross-country season.

But while the Artichoke Invite returned last year after its cancelation during the COVID season of 2020, it wasn’t until this year the cross-country meet, in its 51st running, returned in full force.

Eighty-one teams attended Saturday’s meet on the campus of Half Moon Bay High School, more than doubling last year’s attendance when many schools throughout the state still were not traveling.

“It was fun to see just athletes all over from Northern California and the Central Valley coming into Half Moon Bay and running some smoking times and having a fantastic time — smiles laughs,” said Paul Farnsworth, Half Moon Bay’s cross-country head coach. “It was a fun time.”

Menlo-Atherton dominated the girls’ varsity large schools race. The Bears recorded the top five finishes, with junior Tatum Olesen earning her first individual cross-country championship in over a year with a time of 14 minutes, 3 seconds. Senior Katie Lorenz was second (14:09); senior Chloe Pilette third (14:46); junior Cleo Rehkopf fourth (14:50); and junior Sofia Melani fifth (14:45) to round out the rare feat.

“Yes it is,” M-A head coach Eric Wilmurt said. “I have not been a part of a perfect score in my 28 years of coaching. It’s fairly rare. … It’s hard to wrap your head around.”

The meet included a historic performance as well, as Scotts Valley junior Ashlyn Boothby smashed the girls’ record on the 2.3-mile course with an early-morning run of 13:25. It was the second straight year Boothby — the 2021 Central Coast Section Division IV champion — won the Artichoke girls’ varsity small schools race for divisions 3-5. Last year as a sophomore, she won it in 13:52.

“Smokin’ time too,” Farnsworth said. “And she looks so smooth. She looks like she’s jogging. She a fabulous runner.”

A Coastside tradition
Since the Artichoke Invitational debuted in 1971, there have only been two seasons when the HMB campus wasn’t converted into a ginormous cross-country course for the annual event. The first time was in 2006, when the campus was undergoing renovations. The second was in 2020.

This year, 81 teams competed in the meet that includes rows of haybales and the infamous Cougar Hill. It was a cool day, and a little overcast, which turned out to be prime running conditions, according to Farnsworth.

“We had some really speedy times,” Fansworth said.

The boys’ varsity large schools race saw Fremont-Sunnyvale senior take the individual championship with a time of 12:09. M-A junior Aidan Doherty took second place in 12:14; and Woodside senior Max Hohendorf took fifth in 12:31.

In the boys’ varsity small schools race, St. Mary’s College High School senior Mateo Malko-Allen took first place in 11:56. Nueva School senior Joshua Byun took seventh in 12:42; and junior Hideto Hara was Half Moon Bay’s top finisher, taking 11th place in 12:49 in the field of 233 runners.

Farnsworth also chocked up the event as a huge moral victory for Half Moon Bay.

“That was just absolutely fantastic,” Farnsworth said. “Kids were smiling. Just teams from everywhere. It felt like cross country again.”

Have a day, M-A
Farnsworth was also spellbound by the performance of the M-A girls’ team, which not only included the top five finishers in the varsity large schools race. Junior Annie Pflaum was seventh (15:02) to cap the Bears’ extraordinary day, scoring 15 points to win the team title.

“I have not seen that at the Artichoke, not in a varsity race,” Farnsworth said. “It’s rare. … Any time you score under 20, you are just killing the field.”

M-A is running with a lot of conviction this season after finishing on a disappointing note in 2021. The Bears have never sent a girls’ cross-country team to the CIF State Cross Country finals. But last year was looking to be the year, all the way up to the team recording the second-best time at the Central Coast Section Division I championships.

The top two finishers at the CCS championships earn bids to the state meet. The problem was, M-A and Los Altos finished tied in the team time element. The tiebreaker was awarded to Los Altos as their sixth runner finished with a better time than M-A’s. And while the Bears still sent three individuals — Olesen, Lorenz and Melani — to the state meet, the program has yet to ever do so as a team.

“Yeah, that’s clearly their direction is to get to the state championships and do something there hopefully,” Wilmurt said. “But there’s a lot of running left to do. … We’re talking two months away.”

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I think we should get a norcal commits thread rolling. I'm aware of a couple myself.

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