2007 Earlybird Invitational Preview by Coach Gustavo Ibarra
Anticipation is running high
as the 2007 cross country season kicks off with the 13th Annual Earlybird
Invitational hosted by North Monterey County High School! The meet is back for a 2nd year at Toro Park (Site
of the 2008 CCS Championships) in Salinas during continued construction at NMC. It promises to be as great as ever with more
than 60 teams and almost 2,500 athletes expected to participate this Saturday, Sept. 8th. This just may be the
most competitive early-season meet in the state of California with many state and section ranked teams and individuals! As
a side note, the course at NMC where the first 11 Earlybirds were held and the Toro Park course have historically produced
similar times. As cross-country is a true team sport, we’ll start by highlighting the top teams followed by the top
Let’s get started with
the GIRLS. The defending Earlybird champions from Carlmont are back and
come in ranked 1st overall in CCS as well as breaking into the very elite NTN CA rankings at #8! They feature the best front-runners
in CCS although they will be shorthanded here. Their coach reports that their #1 girl is opening her season at Stanford and
another top runner isn’t running this season. Therefore, Los Gatos may steal
the show today! They come in ranked 1st in CCS DII and are riding high after setting the park record of 96:01 at
CCS Finals last year! Aptos won state in 2005 and has re-loaded nicely with some great youngsters. They’re currently
ranked 1st in CCS DIII and hold the 3rd fastest time ever at Toro! Host North Monterey County is coming off of their first CCS title ever on the girls side and are currently ranked
2nd in CCS DIII. San Benito with some great running up-front comes in ranked 2nd in CCS DI.
Madera always has a good showing and has a nice group of youngsters ranked 3rd in CS DI. Las Lomas is ranked 3rd in
the NCS DIII and has all 7 girls back! St. Ignatius comes in ranked 2nd in CCS in DIII and also has an ace up their
sleeve. Leland has a couple of sisters leading the 4th ranked team
in CCS DII. Sobrato is slowly moving into the CCS elite ranked 4th in CCS DIII. Saratoga could be a sleeper and may be under-ranked
at 6th in CCS DIII. Willow Glen is ranked 7th in the very deep CCS DIII. Harbor will represent the small schools
well at #2 in CCS DIV. Monta Vista returns 6 that went under 21:00 last year at Crystal
Springs and could move up from their #4 ranking in CCS DI. Presentation comes in ranked 6th in CCS DIII.
Half Moon Bay has one of the top individuals and is ranked 3rd in CCS DIV. Carmel is ranked 4th in CCS DIV. Salinas knows
Toro well and comes in ranked 5th in CCS DI. Enterprise returns to Earlybird from the NS and would like to challenge the CCS
The race for top individual girl honors could be fierce as we have on hand THREE defending CCS Champs from their respective
divisions and the top 7 finishers from last spring’s CCS 2 mile! Also, to make things interesting, one is the two-time
defending CCS DIII Cross Country Champ, the defending 2 mile CCS track champ, and the Earlybird meet record holder from the
course at NMC! Since the girls will now join the boys in running grade level races, we’ll break it down by class.
In the senior girls’ race, Mary Rhoades (Carlmont), Amy Schnittger (Aptos), and Kaela Townsend (Los Gatos)
could be considered co-favorites. Mary had been a bit under the radar with her
fantastic teammates but emerged during track season with a great 10:53 3200 and a trip to the state meet! Amy ran a great
18:34 at Toro last year placing 2nd in DII and Kaela ran 18:45 placing 5th in the same race. Amy went
on to run 11:00 for 3200 meters and Kaela went 5:02 for 1600 meters. Look for
Mary & Amy to do the work early and Kaela to challenge late. Sam Smiley (Notre Dame-Belmont) returns after running 19:39
here last year. Keep an eye on Tamara Abinader (Carlmont) and Erin Fabris (Los Gatos) as they seek to lead their favored teams!
Christina Barrientos (Harbor) will carry on the family name and should not be counted out! Also watch for Tracy Vargo (Presentation),
Stephanie Estrada (Madera), and Morgan Celaya (Valley Christian).
The junior girls’
race should go down as the most competitive in the meet! All-everything Justine Fedronic (Carlmont) suffered a major injury
in track and will make her season debut at Stanford, so, the role of favorite will go to Katy Daly (St. Ignatius). She shocked
everyone as a 9th grader two years ago blazing an 18:03!! Her time tied her with Ciari Viehweg, also from St. Ignatius,
for the old meet record! She has won CCS DIII the last two years and also has fine 4:58 1600 and 10:32 3200 track credentials,
the latter netting her a CCS title! Watch for her to push the pace early and make it a “pure guts race”. Stephanie
Barnett (Leland) is the most experienced of the bunch and also likes to push the pace early. She’s the defending CCS
DI champ and ran a 10:51 3200 and blazed an 18:12 at Toro last year making her #7 All-Time at the park! She’s also ranked
#1 overall in CCS! Jennifer Bergmann (Valley Christian) had the fastest time of all divisions in winning CCS DIV two years
ago with an incredible 17:53 and added a fine 4th at state that year. After a
bit of a down 2006 here’s hoping she emerges among the elites once again! Jean Feng (Monta Vista), Kathleen Miller (Gilroy),
and Courtney Allen (San Benito) continue to move up the ranks. Also keep and eye on Matsuda Kayla (James Lick), Katie Nast
(Saratoga), Kelsey Johnson (Santa Cruz), Priya Pappu (The King’s Academy), Jessica Fee (Los Gatos), Crystal Renteria
(Madera), and Naomi Wentworth (Las Lomas).
The sophomore girls’
race is where we’ll have some young girls continuing their breakthroughs! Leading
the way will be Samantha Hamilton (Half Moon Bay) who stormed onto the scene as a freshman.
The small efficient strider blazed an 18:25 at Toro last year to win CCS DIV, which moved her to #14 All-Time at the
park and set a freshman park record! Carina Mendoza (Madera) will give Samantha all that she can handle with a blazing 4:54
1600 during track. Kendra Higgins (Sobrato) won the frosh/soph race last year at Earlybird and will continue to help put her
team on the elite map. Watch Jovita Trujillo (North Monterey County) be inspired
as the host school leader! And, keep an eye on rising stars Claudia Barnett (Leland), Marissa Ferrante (Aptos), Elise Ogle
(Gilroy), Riyana Straetker (Evergreen Valley) as well as teammates Libby Brokaw & Claire Hindes (Las Lomas).
The freshman girls’
race will be a great mystery although leading the way may be the runner that has traveled the furthest. Lea Lundblad (Seabury Hall-Hawaii) comes in as the middle school state champ from the islands and has run
a 5:05 1500 as an 8th grader. She also won the intermediate division
of the Iolani Invitational last year.
The BOYS will put on a show with the highest quality field ever assembled at Earlybird! Many state and section
ranked teams & individuals highlight the meet. If that’s not enough… How about a CCS preview? 8 out of the
top 10 ranked CCS teams are here!
2002 Champs? Madera. 2003
Champs? Madera. 2004 Champs? Madera. 2005 Champs? Madera. 2006 Champs? Madera. 2007 Champs? Well, we think the streak may
end! But, we thought that a couple of years back and the Coyotes answered with a new meet record! So, after a big coaching
change (Coach Rich Parris is now coaching in San Diego) and some graduation hits, the Coyotes will have their hands full from
Carlmont and host North Monterey County! Carlmont comes in as the #1 ranked team in CCS and the 3rd ranked team
in Northern California and features a few aces up-front that have the ability to flirt with the elite 16:00 barrier at Toro.
Last year they stormed to an 80:49 team time good for 2nd all-time at Toro. They will be without the services of
their team leader who has opted to open up at Stanford, so they could be challenged here! Host North Monterey County returns
their top 5 from their 2006 squad and features an experienced senior group. They’re ranked 1st in CCS DIII
and 6th in Northern California. They also have the 3rd
fastest team-time ever at Toro Park. Madera will take their hits and keep on fighting.
They feature 3 aces up-front that may dip under 16:00 here, and, if their supporting cast develops, watch out, the
streak will continue! Aptos features a great 1-3 punch and should fare very well on the team time. They’re ranked 2nd
in CCS DIII. Willow Glen has the luxury of a national class leader and may prove to be under-ranked at 3rd in CCS
DIII. Their spring development has been impressive and they could take it all! Los Gatos graduated a good group as well as
their ace but they bring back great leaders and welcome a world-class runner as their coach. They’re also ranked 1st
in CCS DII and set the park record of 80:45 last year! Las Lomas is ranked 3rd
in NCS DIII and along with Willow Glen has a great ace leading them. They would like nothing more than to spoil the CCS party!
St. Ignatius will try to use their army of runners to fill graduation losses
and come in ranked 4th in CCS DIII. San Benito should re-group
nicely from graduation hits and are ranked 2nd in CCS DI. Serra and Bellarmine continue their league battles ranked 3rd & 4th respectively in CCS DI. Monta Vista,
Palma, Gilroy, and Evergreen Valley will all look to get into the elite mix here.
The senior boys’ race will save the best for last! Hold
on folks, there will be fireworks here! Diego Estrada (Alisal) will continue his emergence as a national force! He blazed
a 15:28 here last year to win the junior race and is now #7 All-Time at the park. He’s
only 16 seconds from the coveted 15:12 that Matthew Petrillo (Los Gatos) established as a park record last year! Unfortunately,
Diego could run the park record and not even win! Mohamed Abdalla (Willow Glen) loves to push the pace and could take the
win if he’s able to hold on! He ran a 15:21 at the CCS Finals last year at Toro to move to #2 All-Time and cranked a
9:11 3200 in the spring! He’s only 9 seconds from the record and if he’s
willing to share the load with Diego, it could be a special day! Mohamed is the #3 ranked runner in all of California and
Diego comes in at #6! Greg Drosky (Las Lomas) will try to hang on to the fast early pace and mix it up-front. He has great
track credentials with a 9:23 3200. Javier Sanchez & Isai Orea (Madera) are
now called upon to lead the Coyotes and could play spoilers here by working together! Michael Landry (Santa Cruz) always runs
well at Earlybird and should dip under 16:00 here. Walter Mayeda (Aptos) will provide his squad leadership to emerge as an
elite team! Teammates Antonio Dorado and Michael Machado (North Monterey County) will work together to bring the host school
back into the elite of California. Oscar Peņa (King City) may surprise many of
the favorites! Dylan Shawhan (Los Gatos) broke through nicely in track with a 4:20 1600. Finally, keep an eye on Oran Arms
(Serra), Eyuel Galato (Willow Glen), Hsiao Yu (Monta Vista), Austin Logie (Carlmont), and teammates Michael Johnson &
Dane Sawyer (Los Gatos). Host North Monterey County is heavily favored to win
the team race here with 5 guys capable of a top 20 finish with great squads from Los Gatos, Bellarmine, Serra, Monta Vista,
and Madera mixing it up.
The junior boys’ race we could see a couple of young stars continue their development! Rylan Hunt (Aptos) sent shockwaves through the running community with his fabulous freshman track times
2 years ago. He blazed a 1:55 800, 4:18 1600, and a 9:28 3200! He has battled some injuries since but looks to be healthy
and ready to roll! He’s 10th on the overall state rankings and will seek to de-throne Lance Wolfsmith (Sobrato),
last year’s sophomore race winner! Lance bid his time last year to outkick Rylan through the hills and comes in ranked
27th overall in the state to go along with his national class tri-athlete rankings. Jesse Arellano (Madera) would
like nothing else than to spoil the party. He had a fantastic freshman fall season and destroyed the Earlybird freshman record
by 21 seconds with a fantastic 16:21! He had a small off day last year but will bounce back with a vengeance here! Tyre
Johnson (Palma) had a great track season and will challenge. Adrian Rodriguez (San Benito) ran the best race of his
young career here last year and will seek to return to form. Michael Jamieson (Las Lomas) returns after a nice showing last
year. Dayne Gradone (Aptos) will benefit from having Rylan along and could challenge here. Greg Innes (St. Ignatius) will lead his squad this year and Jake Arveson (Monterey) will try to carry over his track exploits. Jose Flores (Pajaro Valley), Benjamin Kelly (Bellarmine), Andrew Pierce
(North Monterey County), & Chris Pedro (Carlmont) will be upset minded.
The junior team battle will be fierce with St. Ignatius as favorites with
San Benito, Las Lomas, Bellarmine & Madera in the mix!
In the sophomore boys’, Gregory Harper (Las Lomas) returns to defend his Earlybird win
where he romped to a fine 17:06 last year! Zach Kaylor (Enterprise) will make his Earlybird debut and try to
play spoiler. Michael Reher (St. Ignatius) led early in the race lat year and could play spoiler here with a
conservative start. Chris D’Arriago (Palma), James Michon (Carlmont), and Nick Olsen (Saratoga)
were only separated by 6 seconds last year and will renew their battles here. Others to watch include Miguel Gallegos (North
Monterey County), David Valenzuela (Madera), David Bean (Los Gatos), Juan Velasquez (Gilroy), Michael
Young (St. Francis-CC), and Alan Rios (Sobrato). The team race could be the closest of the day with
Madera, Las Lomas, Monta Vista, Carlmont, & North Monterey County
The freshmen boys are always the great mystery although Domenic D’Aquisto (Enterprise) blazed a 4:16
1500 as an 8th grader and leads a good squad, and, Bellarmine has 63 young lads lining up in this race alone!!
Since the meet will be at
Toro Park once again, we’ll keep an eye on the clock and see the Toro Park record books take some major hits! Matthew Petrillo (Los Gatos-2006) holds he park record at 15:12.
We think there are 2 guys in the field that could challenge that today! The boys will have to dip under 15:52 to make
the all-time top 25 list. We’re looking at 6-8 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 this year. #2 on the all-time Toro list is 17:53! To make the top 25, the girls will have to run 18:37. We’re
looking at 4-5 girls that could do that here!
As far as team time records
are concerned, Los Gatos boys ran a course record 80:45 last year. We think that record may be safe here with challenges coming
later in the season. The girls’ team time record of 96:01 also set by Los Gatos last year also seems safe but watch
the clock! Good luck to all and we hope you enjoy the meet!
2007 EARLYBIRD WILL BE THE BEST EVER, GUARANTEED!
Visit our meet website for coverage! http://nmcxc.tripod.com/ and http://www.dyestatcal.com/will be on hand!