San Diego chapter could have two champions at state cross country competition


When: Saturday

Or: Woodward Park, Fresno

Distance: 5K (3.1 miles)

Time: First race scheduled for 8:30 am

Format: 10 races in 5 divisions, boys and girls, depending on school enrollment

San Diego boys to watch: It is possible that the section has at least two individual boys champions. Francis Parker’s Kenan Pala is undefeated this year, posting stunning times at Mt. SAC (14: 24.9) and in the San Diego Section V final (14: 22.3 for 2.96 miles). Equally impressive was Alex Mader of Lick Wilmerding of the North Coast section, who won the 5km championship at 15: 14.3. How far are they? At the 2019 State Championships, Pala was fourth in 15: 46.1 and Mader sixth in 15: 49.5. Mader has lost one race all year. Pala has her eyes set on the all-time DV record of 14:59 by Marin Academy’s Trevor Reinhart (2014) and St. Joseph Notre Dame’s Cooper Teare (2016). The second fastest rider in this division is Mark Trammell of Santa Fe Christian (15: 00.0 in the section final). Bryce Gilmore of Sage Creek is definitely in the race for gold in Division IV, with the second fastest time (14: 56.4) in the section finals. He too will have a lot of competition with Big Bear’s Max Sannes (15: 11.4) and Sonora’s Adin Dibble (15: 41.2 on 5K), but he has blazing foot speed. On the team side, Francis Parker is one of the favorites. Long range: Grossmont in Division II.

San Diego girls to watch: Three individual titles (boys and girls) would be the San Diego Chapter’s all-time best and with Stormy Wallace of Sage Creek and Jacey Farmer of Rancho Bernardo, it’s not impossible. Wallace is the accomplished performer of major competitions as she set the fastest overall time in the section finals at 17: 20.9, and she looked like she was sailing. Competition is expected to come from Olivia Williams of Acalanes (4:15 p.m. at Hayward) and Sophia Nordenholz of Albany who has better times at 3 miles (16: 33.6) and 5K (17: 28.0) and has raced 10: 05.91 for 3,200 meters. Farmer was the wellness story of 2021 as she battled her injuries over the past two years, collecting personal bests in the past two weeks, winning the Division I title in 17 : 26.8. She came into contention with favorites like Samantha McDonnell of Newbury Park and Sydney Sundgren of Clovis Buchanan. In terms of the team, Sage Creek will seek their third consecutive D-IV crown with Scotts Valley and Albany as the main roadblocks. The Catholic Cathedral Girls are ranked # 1 in the state in Division III. The Dons are a tight-knit team that went 3-4-6-9-10-11-13 led by Alexandria Pena in the section final. Poway, with a brace from Mackenzie Rogers and Tessa Buswell, is fast becoming one of the teams to watch in Division II. Long Shot: Torrey Pines in Division I.

Steve Brand is a freelance writer.

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