Thursday, March 14, 2024

2024 Dublin Distance Fiesta Preview

The Dublin Distance Fiesta (DDF) is back, bigger than ever. In total, over two days, diehard fans will witness a record-setting number of distance heats. Above is starter Doug Griffith whose son is the San Ramon Valley 800m record holder at 1:51.31. Doug will certainly be one of the busiest workers at the meet if he once again starts most of the races.

This season, the DDF will once again be held on the third Friday/Saturday of March and this will be the largest one date. For comparison check out this year's numbers compared with last year.


According to meet director and Dublin head coach Chris Williams, the DDF will once again be the largest distance-only meet in the United States based on the total number of entries. 

OK, now a bit of history I share each year regarding this meet for those of you attending the soon-to-be-world-famous Dublin Distance Fiesta (RIP Peter Brewer). The meet has been held at Dublin HS since 2009 with the lone exception being the 2020 season when it was not held. Before 2009, the meet was held at Skyline HS (one year), Cal Berkeley (one year), and then multiple years at the original location, Piedmont HS. 

* * *

Last year, the 4 x 800-meter relay races made their debut in this meet on Friday. The winners from both races established new meet records with Rio American taking the girl's race and Clayton Valley winning a very competitive boys' race. The favorites to win the girl's race will be Campolindo with their superstar senior, Shea Volkmer. For the boys, the two favorites will be Los Gatos HS and Davis HS.

Aside from super fast competitive fields, the Dublin Distance Fiesta is known for its incredible efficiency. You can check this out in action thanks to Jesuit coach, Walt Lange in the following video made a few years ago.

Let's take a closer look at the "Sombrero" races (coined by Walt Lange?)

GIRLS 1600

Meet Record - Riley Chamberlain (Del Oro/SJ) - 4:46.34 ('22)

This meet has grown over the years and proof of the competitiveness of this meet is the record in this event. In 2015, Sonora's Cassi Land lowered the 1600 record at the DDF to 5:06.01. A year later, Miramonte's Hannah Fishlow lowered the record to 5:02.79. The first runner to lower the record under 5 minutes was Redwood's Gillian Wagner in 2017 as she raced to a 4:55.35 victory. That time held up until 2021 when Albany's Sophia Nordenholz ran 4:53.26 in the 3rd DDF that season (that's right 3rd!). In 2022, Del Oro senior Riley Chamberlain outran Montgomery's talented then-freshman Hanne Thomsen to set the new standard at 4:46.34.

This Saturday, Thomsen is the clear favorite but it will take a tremendous solo effort on her part to break the now stout record in this race. Thomsen just recently signed an NIL with New Balance making her the first NorCal runner to sign such a deal. She has now won three state titles in cross country as well as a state championship in 2022 in the 3200 meters as a freshman.

The second fastest runner in the field is Eleanor Raker from Galena in Reno Nevada. She ran 4:51.81 at the end of the last year's Track and Field season. Evangeline Marheineke of Archbishop Mitty is right there with a 4:52.42 personal best. A wild card in this field is Acalanes senior Olivia Williams who is fresh from a victorious effort in the 3200 at the Dan Gabor Invitational.

BOYS 1600

Meet Record - Ajani Salcido (Jesuit/SJ) 4:09.95 ('21)

The boy's 3200m race has typically been the main event of this meet with some of the best runners in Northern California battling each other for supremacy in that event. For many years, the record at this meet was held by Novato's Erik Olson who ran 4:17.28 in 2009. In 2021, that record was smashed as Jesuit's Ajani Salcido and Amador Valley's John Lester dueled over three laps before Salcido pulled away to win in the still-standing meet record at 4:09.95.

We should have quite a dual in this event this year and the meet record may be in danger. Albany senior Lucas Cohen has a PR that is nearly identical to the meet record with his 4:09.97 best at last year's Sacramento Meet of Champions. His main competition should come from Pioneer junior Carson Hedlund who owns a 4:11.16 PR. Menlo junior Landon Pretre ran 4:13.00 at the Oregon Relays. El Cerrito senior Niall Monteleone was victorious at this distance at the Dan Gabor Invitational with a time of 4:19.96. Santa Cruz junior Eli Fitchen-Young posted an outstanding cross country season in the fall and seems primed for some fast times on the ovals.


Meet Record - Alyssa Brewer (California/NC) 2:08.99 ('18)

History could be made in this race as Stanford bound and Scotts Valley senior Ashlyn Boothby (Karl Mondon photo above) will attempt to be the first runner in Dublin Distance Fiesta to win all three individual races in her career. Last season, Boothby won both the 1600 and 3200 and she will be one of the favorites to win the 800 this Saturday. She was nearly undefeated in the 800 last season and her lone loss was a 2:09.03 4th place finish at the Nike Outdoor Nationals. Her main competition will come from Montgomery's talented junior, Hanne Thomsen who will also have an opportunity to complete the career DDF trifecta victory. She won the 3200 as a freshman and will be in the 1600 and 800. The winner of the 800 here could make history.

BOYS 800

Meet Record - Yutaka Roberts (El Camino/CC) 1:52.34 ('22)

Another meet record that might be in danger could be the boys' 800 meters. Homestead junior 
Evan Gardner (Karl Monday/SJ Mercury News photo above) made huge strides at the end of the season as he lowered his personal best from 2:03.84 in his first race of the season to 1:52.47 at the State Meet Trials to qualify for the final. 

His main competition should come from Pleasant Valley junior Jackson Hein who as a sophomore qualified for the state final and finished 5th with a new best of 1:53.71. San Domenico senior Joaquin Foster also qualified for the state final last year running 1:53.89 in the prelims.

Other noteworthy competitors are Jeffrey Overgaard of Lincoln, Stockton who has already established a new PR of 1:54.44. Jesuit freshman Lucas Alberts won the Bronco Roundup with an exemplary time for a 9th grader at 1:55.67.

GIRLS 3200

Meet Record - Hanne Thomsen (Montgomery/NC) 10:14.46 ('22)

Montgomery junior Hanne Thomsen is entered in this race and if she does start, she will be the favorite to win and potentially break her own meet record. Whether Thomsen races or not, another runner tearing up the track so far this season is Campolindo senior Shea Volkmer (photo courtesy of Campolindo HS). She has already established new PRs in the 800 (2:16.43) and the 1600 (4:49.70) and seems primed for a huge breakthrough in the 3200.

Other noteworthy runners are Galena's Eleanor Raker (10:26.80), Evangeline Marheineke of Archbishop Mitty (10:28.21) and Olivia Williams of Acalanes (NCS Division IV XC champion).

BOYS 3200

Meet Record - Matt Strangio (Jesuit/SJ) 8:47.97 ('19)

The meet record in this event appears to be safe as a sub 8:50 effort in mid March seems a bit out of reach for this field. Albany senior Lucas Cohen has already posted a winning effort at the Dan Gabor Invitational with a time of 9:16.76. He does have a personal best of 9:00.24 from last year's Arcadia Invitational. 

Sonora junior Broen Holman (Daniel Tyree photo above) is already quite familiar with Cohen as those two battled in the individual race of the day at the CA state cross country meet as well as NXN. Holman has a personal best of 9:01.38. 

Other runners in the mix include Arrin Sagiraju of Dougherty Valley and Benjamin Bouie of Crystal Springs Uplands who ran 9:10.21 and 9:10.23 respectively at the Campo Mid-Season Mania 3200. Omar Alsaidi has a best of 9:12.89. A couple of wild cards in this field are Trey Caldwell of De La Salle and Olaf Dietz of Berkeley who nearly ran down Lucas Cohen at the previously mentioned Dan Gabor Invitational. Menlo junior Will Hauser was a member of the Menlo 4 x 800 team last year that finished 2nd at state and his dad Brad was a Stanford University all-American as well as 2000 Olympican in the 5000m.


Meet Record - Santa Cruz (CC) - 12:07.58 ('18)

The Campolindo girls may be going for the relay sweep provided they win the 4 x 800 relay on Friday. Their main competition should come from two Division V schools, Bay School and University. Bay School will be anchored by Division V state cross country champion Elsa Krummel (photo above courtesy of West Coast XC). 

Because of COVID, this relay was not contested in 2021 and obviously in 2020 when the meet was not held at all. Here are the winning teams over the past few years which I posted last year and now include last year's champion, Campolindo.

 2023 Campolindo 12:36.04
2022 Tamalpais 12:34.83
2019 St. Francis, Sacramento 12:22.61
2018 Santa Cruz HS 12:07.58 (meet record)
2017 San Ramon Valley HS 12:23.41
2016 Monte Vista HS 12:16.21
2015 Bella Vista HS 12:14.03
2014 Las Lomas HS 12:31.29


Meet Record - Davis (SJ) - 10:23.93 ('16)

This is always a tough event to predict as many of the fastest teams will include runners doubling back from the just concluded 3200m. So without picking a favorite, here are the contenders. Last year, Matilda Torres out of the Fresno area finished in 6th place and appears primed to move up the rankings here. Jesuit has a group of young runners that will contend for the title. Scotts Valley has been one of the strongest teams in CCS while Yosemite has a strong foursome that will be chasing the win here.


Andy Chan said...

Worth watching the video about DDF logistics, just to hear and see Bob Shor starting races.

Albert Caruana said...

Bob was the BEST!

Anonymous said...

Meet moved way too fast, ahead of schedule which jammed up a lot of runners coming from out of town, with some missing their races. Too many runners, track too crowded, meet too rushed.

Ruthless said...

We barely had enough time for our 3200m runners when the meet moved ahead by over 20 mins with no announcement that the published start times were to be over ruled. In the larger meets it really helps to have hard times for each section like they do at Mt SAC or its chaotic.

Anonymous said...

Given the races were ahead of schedule and bathrooms are jammed outside the stadium it would be nice for the athletes to have porta-potties inside the track.

Popular Posts