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2013 Earlybird Post Meet Story

A clear and sunny Salinas morning greeted 65 teams with a very anxious and hope-filled crowd of 2,400 runners and their fans at the 19th Annual Earlybird Invitational held Saturday, September 7th, 2013 and hosted by North Monterey County High School. The Toro Park layout that is used for the CCS Cross Country Championships on even years would offer a nice setting for the early races while the late morning and early afternoon races would face temperatures that would creep into the 90’s keeping our first aid station with many clients and putting some brakes on the runners facing their first test of the season! Although, many were not phased by the heat and had magnificent efforts! On to the details!

   The day started with an open 3 mile race along with an open 2 mile middle school race. If the numbers keep growing like we saw today we may have to put them into the full meet program with full results and awards. For now the 300 plus runners had a good time warming the course up and were rewarded with the best conditions of the day.

   The 9th grade girls got the real party started as our only pre-meet girl we knew about showed up on the California scene in fine style. The young but agressive Franki Navarro (Madera South) came into town after setting a 9th grade course record at the Dennis Dewitt Invitational last week and took the lead early and held on for a fine 19:16 time knotching her first Earlybird win and taking home the first individual trophy! Anika McBride in 2nd (19:24-Aptos) will be a nice addition to the top ranked CCS squad! Lindsay Allen in 3rd (19:30) ended up being their top girl on the day! The team race was not a contest as Los Gatos (27 pts) showed they have a great crew to feed the storied program. St. Ignatius (70) and Los Altos (79) had a good battle for the final medals.

   The young 9th grader boys blasted out of the gates next as they chased our pre-meet favorite Miguel Villar (Madera South). Miguel impressed us with the traditional Madera South take the race early tactic and held on for a very impressive 16:07! Flirting with a sub 16 on his first shot at Toro bodes well for this new impact player on one of the top teams in the state! His teammate Michael Ochoa was almost a minute back at 16:57 and 3rd placer Max Sawyer (Monta Vista) was another half minute back at 17:34! Quite the run by soon to be known all over Miguel Villar. Bellarmine started their hardware haul of the day with a very impressive 45 points! If you think the Bellarmine army will stop coming one of these years, think again! Madera South led by Miguel and Michael could have upset the Bells here with a solid 5th scorer but had to settle for 2nd (66). Homestead  in 3rd (81) looks like they have some young guys to push their ranked veterans this season.

   The sophomore ladies had a defending champion in Jaqueline Escalera (Fremont) going for her 2nd win but it wasn’t to be as our pre-meet favotire Lauren Jacob (Los Altos) would show as the class of the field with an impressive 18:12 win! The time would hold up as the 2nd fastest of the day and puts her on target to take down her own 17:49 she ran last year which ranks her as 6th fastest ever at Toro! Jaqueline had to settle for 9th as Cate Ratliff (Santa Cruz-18:32) and Jonnie Montano (Madera South-19:14) indeed spoiled the party in 2nd and 3rd. Menlo-Atherton paced by a couple of top 10 girls won going away with 73 points. St. Ignatius (128) got their 2nd team medals of the day while Silver Creek surprised many in 3rd (134).

   The sophomore boys had Eduardo Herrera (Madera South) returning to defend his Earlybird title and he did just that going away throwing down the fastest time of the day at 15:43! Eduardo took advantage of the cooler temperatures that would heat up and challenge the upper-classmen later on. His time was only 9 seconds shy of making the top 25 all-time list at Toro. Not bad for a 2nd year kid! Kevin Lehr (St. Ignatius-16:08) and Ben Zaeske (Los Altos-16:17) held on for fine early season efforts!  We knew Bellarmine might be a bit vulnerable in this one but they held true for the win with 66 points!  Los Altos was only 20 points back (86) which is about as close as anyone has been to the Bells here recently. St. Ignatius (99) will also hope to make it a close battle next year!

   The junior girls started to feel a bit of the heat but that didn’t slow our pre-meet favorite Jenna Storms (West Valley)! The smooth striding newcomer held on late for a 19:10 win (6th fastest of the day) as two time Earlybird winner Jenny Xu (Monta Vista-19:17) rallied late past some rivals and had to settle for 2nd best today. Two firsts and a second is quite the resume for her so far! Grace Ling (Lynbrook-19:37) held on for 3rd. Jenny led her Monta Vista squad to a nice 79 point win with Madera South (95) and Homestead (123) taking the other medals. Homestead earned theirs the hard way as they were rewarded on a 6th runner tie-breaker with Los Gatos. True cross country team running on display when everyone counts and can make a difference!

   The junior boys lacked the presence of the defending champ Steven Sum (Saratoga) and Chris Foster (Los Gatos-15:52) seized the opportunity to notch his 2nd Earlybird win after a 9th grade win! Chris’ time would end up being 2nd best of the day! Jose Pina (Lincoln-15:55) seemed to be primed for the upset late but Chris would have none of it as he hit the gas with 50 meters to go and blasted away for the win! Corey Gonzalez (Harker-16:02) was a late add with fires in Northern California altering some meets that way and he was rewarded for the trip here. Bellarmine (48 pts) absolutely dominated with 7 guys coming in before most top teams had their 3rd or 4th in! Los Gatos (126) and Carlmont (130) had to settle for a close battle for 2nd way back of the impressive Bells!

   The senior girls always have special place in our hearts as they kick off their last season and their final Earlybird run! We knew it would be special with Anna Maxwell (San Lorenzo Valley) highlighting the meet on the girls’ side! The all-everything harrier absolutely blasted out of the gates and when the clock showed 8:30 at the half way point we knew she wasn’t here to mess around! Her commanding lead showed that she was on pace to take a shot at the course record although she had to deal with the famous Toro hills in the 2nd half of the course along with the rise in the temperatures! The crowd cheered the valiant effort as she stopped the clock at 17:23 (2nd best ever at Toro) breaking her own previous best of 17:28 and inching her that much closer to the 17:16 course record by Tori Tyler (Gunn-2004). We can only speculate as to what she could have done in cooler temperatures. Anna is primed for a fantastic season and we look forward to her senior campaign at the national level! Her teammate Claire MacMillan (SLV-18:51) had her hard work pay off as we spotted her doing multiple laps at Toro a couple of weeks back. Claire’s time would be 4th best of the day. Bridget Gottlieb (Monta Vista-19:03) showed very well in 3rd. Anna and Claire would spear-head San Lorenzo Valley with a very impressive 31 point effort with their 5th scorer 12th overall in the team scores! Monta Vista (104) and Los Altos (107) would have to settle for a distant 2nd and 3rd.

   The senior boys would wrap up the meet in a tactical affair with 15 guys separated by only a second or two half way through the course. The hills separated the men from the boys as fast improving and our sleeper for the win Michael Marquez (Madera South-15:56) would test the field but it wasn’t to be as Cooper Sloan (Homestead-15:52) roared past late for the win! Cooper is an Earlybird veteran and was rewarded with an experienced over the newcomer! Steven Velarde (San Benito-16:04) is another meet veteran that always shows well here! Bellarmine would put their stamp on the meet here with their 4th win in 4 tries with 31 points! Homestead (97) and Los Altos (117) will rely on their seasoned veterans all year!

   Overall, as we combined all the grade level races, we had the ladies from San Lorenzo Valley taking the team-time title here as we had predicted with a very fine early season 1:39:02. Before you don’t take notice, remember that they have an all-state transfer waiting in the wings along with an ill runner that was not at her best today. Watch for this crew to cause waves all year at the section and state meet. They will be shooting for a 5th state title later on this year and should move up to the top ranked spot in the CCS. Monta Vista (99:17) came close to pulling off the upset of the meet and will likely move up from their current #8 CCS ranking. Aptos (100:02) showed well and had a nice 9th grader join the ranks to bolster the current #1 CCS team. Watch for some epic battles with San Lorenzo Valley as they lock horns in the same league!  Madera South (101:56) had their best day ever at the park and Menlo Atherton (103:20) showed why they are ranked #6 overall in CCS!

   For the boys, Madera South once again made the long trek from the central valley, took names, and walked off with the top team time (81:03) for the 3rd year in a row! Their time today would be 6th fastest ever at Toro although their 80:31 from the last two years is a tad better and puts them currently at 3rd best ever! Spear-headed by an impressive mix of front-runners in each grade level, the Stallions have the balance of young guys and veterans to cause some havoc at the state level in Division 1. Any opponents hoping to best the Stallions better be ready to go out hard and try to win a pure guts race. If their role-playing veterans closing the door in the scoring today can round into previous form, watch out! This team is the real deal! Bellarmine (81:35) is probably scratching their heads once again as they seem to always be just a few ticks back of the Stallions each year. Quite the legendary team battles these two teams are having at this meet. Carlmont (82:18) kept our 1-3 predictions here in place with a great showing and have set up, once again, another anticipated showdown with Bellarmine at CCS and State. Los Gatos (83:23), as the #6 ranked CCS school, showed well to raise their stock! Homestead (83:37) showed why they deserve their pre-season headlines and hope to shake up the Bellarmine and Carlmont party!

   Finally, Earlybird has always favored huge teams that can beat the bushes and recruit, recruit, and recruit! Cross Country is a great sport for ANYONE and the meet set-up is geared towards rewarding teams that can cover their bases and field multiple teams at various grade levels and genders. The largest plaque of the day goes to the team that scores well in multiple races and usually is won by a large squad. Bellarmine certainly fits the bill (120 boys strong) as they walked away with the overall plaque once again with a clean sweep of the four boys’ races!!! If Bellarmine starts enrolling girls the rest of us should just take the day off here! Quite impressive to take this title year in and year out with only boys on the roster!

We want to thank all of the volunteers, coaches, and parents for making the meet possible but we mainly want to thank the runners that make this the greatest sport in the world! We hope to see you all back next year as we celebrate the highly anticipated 2014 20th Anniversary Edition!!!!

Coach Gustavo Ibarra


Earlybird Meet Director

North Monterey County High School

Please follow this link for results of the meet! http://www.prepcaltrack.com/ATHLETICS/XC/2013/ebird.htm


Results here!