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2011 Earlybird Post Meet Story

2011 Earlybird Post-Meet Write-Up


               The cross country season kicked off on the Central Coast of California in fine fashion at the 17th Annual North Monterey County Earlybird Cross Country Invitational.  Perfect running weather, a great crowd, and loaded fields made for some of the best performances ever seen at the large early-season meet held at Toro Park in Salinas on September 11th, 2011.

               Before the event we knew the boys would steal the show on the team front while the ladies would have to shine on the individual front. That is exactly what happened.  Bellarmine had been the Earlybird showcase team the last 2 years running 81:37 and 81:10 combined team times (races are held by grade levels) to take home the fastest team award.  Well, the 2011 Bellarmine squad came ready to fly and ended up with a BLAZING 80:43 team time good for 3rd FASTEST EVER AT THE PARK!  That is a school record and improved on their 80:48 they ran last year at the CCS section finals! Today they featured 2 guys under 16:00 with a nice scoring gap of just 42 seconds. They were also short-handed with one of their aces ACT testing so watch out for them down the road as they seek to improve on their 6th place showing last year at state in Division I! With that you might think Bellarmine did enough for top honors today, well, forget about it! Madera South from Division II rolled into town from the Central Valley and BLASTED a 80:31 team time good for 2ND FASTEST EVER AT TORO PARK! They now only trail the great Mountain View team of 2008 that scorched a 80:13 time for our current park record.  Madera South put on a show with 3 guys under 16:00 and an incredible 22 second scoring spread for their top 5! That type of performance should move Madera South near the top of the state rankings with Toro Park and Woodward Park running fairly close in times.  Coach Rich Parris for Madera South can now add an Earlybird title to his resume with Madera South after many titles he won while leading Madera several years back. The efforts that Madera South and Bellarmine put in today really were the best team efforts we’ve seen in the 17 year history of the meet.  It was amazing running by two great programs. San Benito (82:05), Carlmont (82:31), Los Altos (83:56), and Cupertino (83:57) also had good days.

               The girls had to settle for individual honors and boy did they do that in fine style! We knew Nikki Hiltz (Aptos) and Vanessa Estrada (San Benito) would have a great battle in the junior girls’ race and it truly was magic.  Nikki looked as good as ever and has carried her 4:43 mile, good for 3rd at state, over to the trails this fall for her 2nd Earlybird win.  Vanessa is a strong front-runner but Nikki took charge early and never looked back on her way to a historic 17:44 clocking! The time moves her to 2ND ALL TIME AT TORO and she now only trails the legendary 17:16 effort by Tori Tyler (Gunn-2004)!! This effort puts Nikki above many of the legendary regional girls that have gone on to amazing feats at the state and national level both in high school and college ranks. Nikki Hiltz is the real deal! Vanessa held on valiantly for an amazing 18:11 clocking good for 12th ALL-TIME! Morgan Lira (Valley Christian) had to do much of the work alone in the senior girls’ race but she did it in fine style defending her Earlybird win and clocking 18:31 good for 24th ALL TIME!  We thought 2-3 girls had a shot at the top 25 lists and we were pleased to have 3 make it today! Anna Welsh (18:51-Senior-Monterey), Alyssa Johnson (18:56-Junior-Leland), and super newcomer in the 9th grade race Jenny Xu (18:59-Monta Vista) all dipped under the very difficult 19:00 barrier!  In all we had 22 girls under 20:00 making it a fine field including sophomore winner Clare Peabody (Aptos-19:06).

               The individuals in the boys’ field maybe lacked a bit of the top elite marks at the highest levels like the girls enjoyed today but flourished with second tier elite depth we’ve never witnessed before. Local runner Samuel Hales (King City) made a huge move up the Toro hills to separate from the lead senior pack that had a group of 20 together up until then.  He blazed the last part of the course to make the top 25 ALL-TIME list with his very fine early season 15:38 good for a tie for 25th ALL TIME at the park. Richard Ho (Leland) was our pre-meet favorite to win his 3rd Earlybird trophy in the junior boys’ race and he didn’t disappoint us with his fine 15:41 just missing the top 25 listings. Sub 16:00 guys Thomas Anthony (Cupertino-15:42) and Jack Bordoni (Bellarmine-15:47) flew in the senior race while Charles Deanda (Bellarmine-15:51) was second to Richard in the junior race. Footballer turned runner Ruben Collins (San Benito) stole the show in the sophomore race winning with a very fine 15:52 while 9th grader Chris Foster (Los Gatos) got his 1st Earlybird trophy in a nice 16:49 effort.  The depth was evident as a historic 12 guys dipped under 16:00 today!

               On the team front for the ladies, San Benito put together a fine day to take home the overall fastest squad plaque with their 100:29 clocking with Vanessa leading the charge for them. Presentation (100:47), Valley Christian (101:48), Aptos (102:32), and Madera South (102:55) also had a good day. Individual race team plaques were awarded to Los Gatos’ 9th graders, St. Ignatius’ 10th graders, San Benito’s 11th graders, and Gilroy’s 12th graders.

               The boys’ team awards continue to stock the Bellarmine cupboard as the Bells ran away with the 9th, 10th, and 12th grade plaques with an additional 2nd place showing to Madera South in the 11th grade race!  With that, BELLARMINE also ran away with the TOP OVERALL EARLYBIRD AWARD COMBINING BOYS AND GIRLS!  The crazy thing is that Bellarmine keeps winning that award without a single girl in their school! That is a true tribute to a great boys’ program.

               We’d like to thank all of the coaches, teams, athletes, sponsors, and volunteers that truly made the 17th meet one to remember!  We hope to see you all next year!!


               Coach Gustavo Ibarra

               Earlybird Meet Director


Full results are available at  http://www.dyestatcal.com/ATHLETICS/XC/2011/ebird.htm