2003 Earlybird Cross Country Invitational Preview
by Coach Gustavo Ibarra
North Monterey County HS
Anticipation is running high as the 2003 cross country season kicks off with the 9th Annual Earlybird
Invitational hosted by North Monterey County High School in Castroville, CA! This meet promises to be the best
yet as more than 50 teams and well over 1,000 athletes are expected to converge on campus this Saturday, Sept. 6th.
This just may be the most competitive early-season meet in the state of California!! Highly ranked teams and individuals will
once again rip through the spectator friendly 3.0-mile course. As cross country is a true team sport, well start by highlighting
the top teams followed by the top individuals.
For the girls' teams, San Lorenzo Valley will defend
their Earlybird team title from 2002 with a fine returning group that is ranked 3rd in California and 1st in CCS in Division
IV. They bring big meet experience with multiple State and Section Championships in recent years!! Theyve had a great summer
and will not give up their title easily. They looked impressive in a recent all-comers 2 mile with 6 girls under 11:54! St.
Ignatius enters the meet ranked 1st in CCS Division III and could challenge SLV for the title along with Presentation
with their #2 CCS DIII ranking. They both feature some great up-front running and strong traditions. Madera returns
the bulk of their runner-up Earlybird team from 2002 and could challenge. They have big meet experience having qualified for
the 2002 CA State Meet. Other top 10 contenders include Los Gatos, Aptos, Clovis West, Clovis East and host
North Monterey County.
the boys teams, races will be run in grade levels but overall individual times will be combined to sort out the overall squads for
bragging rights. Madera returns to defend their Earlybird time title and should do it in fine style if last week is
any indication. A bit off the rankings radar, Madera surprised many last week at the Granite Bay Invite defeating Jesuit 45-86!
Jesuit entered that meet as the top California squad and 15th in the country! Madera will fly on the coast come Saturday.
Host North Monterey County will challenge for the title coming off of last years runner-up finish to Madera. The Condors
return the bulk of a team that surprised many all year on way to a 12th place State finish. Theyve had a great summer and
should see the fruits of their labors. They enter the season ranked 2nd in California and 1st in CCS DIII! Serra will
send the seniors of their top ranked squad that comes in ranked 5th in state and 1st in CCS DI. Look for King City
to challenge for a top 3 finish as they enter ranked 3rd in state and 1st in CCS DIV. Other top contenders gunning for a top
5 finish include Carlmont, #2 in CCS DII, Bellarmine, #2 in CCS DI, and St. Ignatius, #3 in CCS DIII.
All in all, 15 of the top 25 ranked CCS teams will be on hand!
The race for top individual girl honors could be fierce as
many great harriers race each other for the first time in 2003! This race will include many of the top ranked individuals
including #s 1-3 on the DIII state list! Leading is 2002 Earlybird individual champ Ciara Viehweg (St. Ignatius) ranked
#2 in the state! 2002 runner-up Melissa Grelli (Presentation) enters 2003 ranked first in the state and could steal
the title. Remember, she is the defending 2002 California State Cross Country Champ! These two better not blink or they could
miss Alicia Follmar (Saratoga) flying by with her blazing speed that netted her a mile (4:51) state title! Alicia enters
2003 ranked #3 in the state. Thats right, #s 1-3 in the state right off the bat!! Other top 10 contenders include Sarah
Zerzan (Notre Dame-Belmont), Christine Jones (Los Gatos), Annie Adams (Aptos), teammates Stephanie Hamilton and Emily
Romo (SLV), and Corina James and Vanessa Rodriguez (Madera).
The individual boys wont disappoint with the highest quality
field ever assembled for this early-season meet!! The seniors will be a Shoot-out in the OK Corral! Its loaded!!
Alex Dunn (SLV) comes down from the hills to defend his top time from 2002. He recently ran a great 14:57 5k on the
track and should tour the NMC course in just about the same amount of time. He went 15:44 last year but look for that to be
dismantled. Alex won the DIII state title last year! Kyle Shackleton and twin Drew Shackleton (Carlmont) come
from the north and are capable of doing runner-up duties. Dominic Vogl (Serra) leads a strong senior class for them.
Look for locals Jacob Evans (Aptos) and Darren Mattinson (Harbor) to mix it up with the leaders. Jacob brings
the fastest legs to town with his 1:52 (800) and 4:11 (1600) PRs, so you better
break him early! Darren has made huge improvements from last year and could be a sleeper. Michael Hannon (Mills) has
a great 4:20 1600 PR. Daniel Jensen (Silver Creek), Danny Tapia (North Monterey County), Jonnie Rivera (San Benito),
Alex Guney (Bellarmine) and teammates Jorge Oliveros & Marco Ayala (King City) are all top 10 contenders. Getting a medal in this one will be tough! All in all, the CCS is well represented
here with 25 of the top 35 seniors for 2003!!!
The juniors arent as deep but will be just as quick up-front.
Were predicting another Madera vs. North Monterey County battle. Last year Madera squeaked out a 1 point win in the sophomore
race with 3 guys in the top 5! North Monterey County countered with 2 guys in the top 5 and 4 in the top 11!! This year could
be much the same. Look for defending champ, Benny Madrigal (Madera), to battle once again for the win. Hes coming off
an impressive 5th place run at the Granite Bay Invitational. Last year he held off two charging Condors for the
win. Nathan Huerta (North Monterey County) and Keli Parker (North Monterey County) will once again be battling
up front. Nathan enters the season ranked 8th in the state DIII. Hes had a great summer including a 31:36 romp
at the 6-mile Wharf to Wharf. Keli is primed for a great junior year and will use his devastating kick come crunch time. Claudio
Moreno (Madera) and Jesse Perez (Madera) return to try and duplicate their top 5 finish. Jose Garcia (North
Monterey County) and Enoch Trujillo (North Monterey County) will attempt to break up the Madera juggernaut.
The sophomores are led by defending 2002 Earlybird champ Daniel
Rocha (Madera). Hes coming off a fine 12th place finish at last
weeks Granite Bay Invite. Also returning from last years top 5 are, in order: Daniel Morthie (St. Ignatius), Jose
Sanchez (Greenfield), Kevin Collins (SLV) and up-and-coming Ivan Alfaro (North Monterey County).
are always a mystery this early in the season and we just hope they go the right way this year J.
Check out the North Monterey County cross country team website for meet results
and pictures, and we hope everyone enjoys the meet!
Coach Gustavo Ibarra
North Monterey County Cross Country