2002 Earlybird Preview/Meet Announcement
by Coach Gus Ibarra
North Monterey County XC
The 2002 North Monterey County Earlybird Invitational looks to be the best yet! Over 40 teams have entered with several
Girls Team Preview:
The girls may steal the show with some very good early season match ups. The CCS is well represented with 8 out of the
top 15 ranked CCS teams doing battle here. Top ranked CCS teams include San Lorenzo Valley ranked #1 in CCS and #2 in State,
Presentation #4 , Aptos #5, Notre Dame-Belmont #6, Soquel #9, Saratoga #11, Los Gatos #12 & St. Ignatius #15. Plus, many
other up and coming teams from the area including host North Monterey County.
Some top out of the area teams make the trip to the coast and include Enterprise, Madera, Atwater, Modesto, Golden Valley
& Reedley. Look for some very fast early season times as these top teams do battle here.
The top teams are well represented here with Mellisa Grelli (11) from Presentation and Casey Nevitt (12) from Aptos leading
the charge. Look for several top runners including Janessa Hoppe (Enterprise), Erica Williams (Los Gatos), Sarah Zerzan (Notre
Dame-Belmont), Raquel Barrientos (SLV), Stephanie Hamilton (SLV), Emily Romo (SLV), Alicia Follmar (Saratoga), Ciara Vierdeg
(St Ignatius) & Evelyn Wing (Valley Christian) to make things real interesting.
Boys Team Preview:
With the boys running in age group races by grade, team depth is a crucial factor this weekend! 5 out of the top 15 CCS
teams will be represented in each race led by St. Ignatius #2, Bellarmine #7, King City #8, host North Monterey County #11
& James Lick #15. Look for large teams to perform very well in the team competitions. Traditionally large teams include
St Ignatius, Bellarmine and host North Monterey County with well over 50 boys each.
Out of the area teams will make it very exciting as they make the trip. Madera rolls into town with its rich cross country
tradition. They return 5 from their State Meet team from 2001 and should perform very well with their large group. Enterprise
comes south and always seems to de very well in this meet, they also return 5 from a State Meet 2001 team. Other teams making
the long trip include Atwater, Escalon, Golden Valley, Mercy, Modesto, Natomas, Reedley & Roosevelt.
Although many top runners wont run against each other since they are in age group races, sparks could still fly. Kenny
Frank (Enterprise) makes the trip south and could highlight the Senior Boys race. Alex Dunn (SLV) could run away with the
Junior Boys race. The sophomore boys race is up for grabs but look for Keli Parker and Nathan Huerta from host North Monterey
County to make it interesting up front. As always, many unknowns with the freshmen boys.
Other top individuals that could battle for top honors include Jacob Evans (Aptos), Ryan Jensen (Bellarmine), Victor Cerna
(Golden Valley), Oscar Martinez (Greenfield), Khalil Hallack (Modesto) & Jonathan Rivera (San Benito-Hollister).
Monte Vista Christian
Notre Dame-San Jose
San Lorenzo Valley
St Francis-Central School
The Kings Academy
<P>There are few undertakings more challenging and rewarding than a multi-team competition in our sports of cross-country
and track and field. Often a successful activity snowballs into one where the logistics can become quite challenging, yet
it is these affairs that are often the highlight of the season for teams and athletes. We would like to take the time to talk
to Meet Directors of major competitions around the state when they have time to give us a few of their very hectic minutes
about their particular meet. Some background and maybe some information others could use. </P>
<P>This weekend's Earlybird Condor Invitational - sponsored by North Monterey County HS in the Central Coast Section.
A big meet, with great competition, and seeming great concern shown to all who come and take part. </P>
<P>Bruce White, Coach at North Monterey County takes a few minutes to speak with us below: </P>
<P>"I'm Bruce White, the head boys cross country coach at North Monterey County High School and co-founder
of the Earlybird, along with Jesse Soliven, the girls cross country coach. Gustavo Ibarra forwarded your email to me to answer
some questions you had. First of all, we are all honored that you would take an interest in our meet. We are very enthusiastic
about the meet because it has a very special feel to it. It's hard to put a finger on it, but almost every year a few kids
come up to us and thank us for putting on such a fun meet. They seem to really enjoy themselves. It's relaxed yet competitive
and congenial. I guess that's the way it's supposed to be. I will try to answer your questions below."</P>
<P>1) How Long as the Earlybird Condor Invite been in existence?
This is our 8th year. It started out with 3 teams and about 100 runners, most of them Condors (from NMCHS). Last year,
the 7th annual, there were over 30 schools and about 1,000 runners.</P>
<P>2) What do you and others see as the meet concept (reason behind the meet's being held - what give teams chance
to do at this time of season, etc.)
I started coaching in 1989 and very soon it became clear to me that our course would be an ideal place for an invitational.
It is truly spectator friendly, with about 90% of the race easily visible...and up close and personal because of its loops.
But no serious thought was given to starting a meet until we got fed up with a local meet 9 years ago which was poorly organized
and on a terrible course.....Other coaches also hated that meet. So Jesse and I decided to put this meet on. We called it
the Earlybird because we are Condors (bird) and because the meet is so early (early) in the season. The concept behind the
format (boys running in grade level races) was that whoever got the greatest number of bodies out for xc sooner would probably
have the advantage in the races. Thus, the early bird gets the worm....or prize in this case.</P>
<P>3) What areas do you draw teams from?
We started out with just CCS teams...but soon more and more have come from the central valley to escape the heat out there
this time of year. We have schools coming from Fresno, Madera, and as far north as Red Bluff (Enterprise HS). Most schools,
however, still come from CCS. It has turned into a sort of a preview of teams in CCS, a time for coaches and runners to size
up one another early on. We've had some great teams here. D3 champs of 2000 were here....Los Gatos. Bellarmine, Serra, St.
Ignatius, San Benito (Hollister)...Gustavo's old team...we were rival coaches. This year Madera will be coming, it seems.</P>
<P>4) What group do you have in place to carry out the competition?
I'm not sure what you mean here. Jess and I organize it. Mark McConnell from Soquel HS is gratious in running the scoring
system. Our kids' parents help out and some teachers help out.</P>
<P>Over the years we have had a number of small and not so small local businesses sponsor our meet. At least several
are former runners from my past teams. They have been instrumental in making the meet possible.
<P>5) Do you think you do any things unique in your utilization of local resources for the meet?
Not really. I know one of the first meets we had an Aztec dancer come and perform a ceremony with drums and dance before
the beginning of the first race. We have had kids from our high school beat on drums during races. I'd personally like to
get a group of Japanese drummers to play during the races. Our shirt design, the one that looks like a poster, was designed
by one of my former runners, a young man who was on my first CCS championship team......he designed several previously, and
did some designing in HS for xc and football uniforms...He's now a graphic designer by trade. His name is Aaron Pedroza....He'll
be stoked about getting his name mentioned. He also designed the original course map. Jesse took that concept and changed
the map to reflect the course changes. I think his daughters helped, but I'm not sure. I like the original one more...but
it is a cool map regardless.</P>
<P>6) What kind of timing, placing, and results system do you use for the athletes who run? </P>
<P>You know, Mark McConnell runs that. I truly don't even have anything to do with that. He just makes it happen.
The kids wear bibs of course with bar codes.</P>
<P>7) Any thoughts given to the course layout for toughness, viewability, etc.?
It's not an extremely tough course, except the second time up the hill. It's a fast course. The viewability, however,
is like no course I have EVER been on or heard of. It really gives the coach an excellent opportunity to watch his or her
runners during the race. And parents and friends love the course for the same reason.</P>
<P>8) What advice would you have for someone else considering starting a multi-team affair such as yours?
Find a good course....make it spectator friendly....organize it well (don't be late for your own invitational...I overslept
on the 5th one)....and make it fun......Also, don't be stingy on the awards...make 'em nice as possible.</P>
<P>Thanks Bruce - Best of Luck - Doug Speck</P></DIV>