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2004 Earlybird Preview

2004 Earlybird Preview

2004 Earlybird Invitational Preview by Coach Gustavo Ibarra

Anticipation is running high as the 2004 cross country season kicks off with the 10th 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 1,500 athletes are expected to participate in the anniversary edition this Saturday, Sept. 11th. This just may be one of the most competitive early-season meets 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, we’ll start by highlighting the top teams followed by the top individuals.
Let’s get started with the girls. St. Ignatius comes in ranked 4th in the state in Division III and 1st in CCS Division III. They are the defending CCS Champs and placed 8th at state last year. The exciting part for 2004, they return their full varsity squad! They are heavy favorites to run away with the team title here. Aptos comes in ranked 13th in the state in Division I and 2nd in CCS. They are also defending section champions and placed 11th at state last year. Keep an eye on Madera, they were 3rd last year at Earlybird and run great as a team. Los Gatos comes in ranked 3rd in CCS Division II and always has some wheels. Escalon comes in ranked 4th in Division 4 in the Sac Joaquin Section & should fare well.
The race for top individual girl honors could be fierce as several of the top ten girls ever on this course are back! This includes Alicia Folmar (Saratoga), the two-time defending state champion in the mile and defending state champion in cross country! She’s currently the top ranked harrier in California in Division III. Alicia has already kicked off her season with a victory at the Marshall Clark 4 miler in 24:20, a good minute faster than in 2003 so look out course record! Her only problem might be that the current course record holder is also in the field!! Ciara Viehweg (St. Ignatius) set the current course record of 18:03 back in 2002 and would like nothing more than to lower that standard. She placed 5th at the state meet last year and would love a shot at an individual title! She’s currently ranked 2nd in the state in Division III so look for a tough battle up-front between these two ladies. Other top 10 contenders include Amanda Moreno (Escalon), Brianna Larson (Las Lomas), Korina James (Madera), Zoe Unruh (St. Ignatius), Malinda Dominguez (Silver Creek), Jessica Van Ausday (Aptos), Adilene Sanchez (Alisal), Lisa Worsham (Monta Vista) and Sierra Siemer (Presentation).
The boys won’t disappoint with the highest quality field ever assembled for this early-season meet!! For the boys, 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 from the central valley to defend their “time title” from the last two years and should do it in fine style. They ran 81:54 in 2003 making them the fastest ever at Earlybird. The 2004 squad should take down that record! They are currently ranked 8th in the state in Division I and return most of their squad from 2003 that placed 10th at the state finals. They are coming off a dominating victory at the Granite Bay Invitational last week. Madera impresses with their team spirit and will put on a team-running clinic on Saturday. Host North Monterey County will challenge for the title with runner-up finishes to Madera the last two years. The Condors return the key front-runners of a team that enjoyed its best season ever on way to a league and section title and a 4th place state finish. They ran 83:34 last year making them the second fastest team ever and could go under that this year. They enter the season ranked 3rd in California and 1st in CCS Division II! St. Ignatius comes in ranked 9th in the state in Division III and they are the favorites to win the CCS title in that division. San Benito is ranked 3rd in CCS Division I and features some of the finest young runners around. Watsonville is ranked 4th in CCS Division I and Seaside is ranked 2nd in CCS Division III.
In the senior boys’ race it should be part three of a three-year battle between Madera and North Monterey County. These two schools have a couple of the deepest senior classes in the state for 2004!! Nathan Huerta (North Monterey County) is back to defend his 2003 title. Last year he ran 15:51 making him the 3rd fastest ever behind the 15:20 by Brett Gotcher (Aptos) in 2001 and the course record of 15:18 by Alex Dunn (San Lorenzo Valley) in 2003. Nathan enters 2004 ranked 2nd in the state in Division II and is coming off a fantastic 9:08 2 mile during the outdoor track season and an All-American citation in the steeplechase. He is also a pre-season All-West 2nd team member. He’s currently on his way back from a slight IT band injury. If he toes the line, he may run a conservative team race. Benny Madrigal (Madera) ran second to Nathan last year and may be the pre-race favorite if Nathan isn’t up to speed. He’s coming off a dominating victory at the Granite Bay Invite last week. He holds the sophomore course record at 16:26 and is the 3rd fastest junior ever at 15:56. Look for him to go well under that mark. The sleeper is Keli Parker (North Monterey County) from the host school that could send some shockwaves to the running community in 2004. He placed 5th last year and is coming off the best summer of his life. Scott Campbell (Carlmont) is another one to keep tabs on. Anthony Pulido (Madera) and Claudio Moreno (Madera) return to try and duplicate their 2003 top 5 finish. Other contenders include Steven Giron (Los Baņos), Nathan DeVault (Madera), Jason Yow (Monta Vista), Jose Garcia (North Monterey County), Robert Maher (Palma), Chance Caruthers (Aptos), Hari Subramaniam (Saratoga), and Jose Tapia (Watsonville). Look for Seaside led by individual contender Adalberto Corres to make a run at team medals in 3rd.
In the junior boys’ race, Daniel Rocha (Madera) returns after a 16:50 win as a sophomore and a 17:25 win as a freshman. He’s going for a third win in as many years and is the heavy favorite. He’s well on his way to becoming the only four-time champ at Earlybird! Look for him to run around 16:00. Steven Thompson (Seaside) returns to defend his runner-up from last year but keep an eye on Scott Russell (Monta Vista) and a trio of St. Ignatius runners, Nick Alvarado, Daniel Morthole, and Robert Alvarado that should make it a close battle for the top 5. The sleeper in this one is Ivan Alfaro from host North Monterey County. Higher summer mileage and a strong determination will make him a contender for a top individual finish. Jose Sanchez (Greenfield), Kevin Bookholdt (Santa Teresa), and Jaime Gonzalez (Westmoor) should also contend. With their fine trio up-front, St. Ignatius is the pre-meet favorite for the team title but watch North Monterey County as they try and play the role of spoiler. The Bells from Bellarmine should also be in the mix.
In the sophomore boys’ race we hope they go the right way this year. In fact, to make sure, a scooter will lead all races this year! Last year as freshmen, the top couple of runners were misguided near the finish and I’m sure a few of them will be back with some unfinished business in mind. Rigo Vasquez, Eddie Trujillo and Alfredo Lopez all from San Benito return to try and duplicate their 1st-3rd sweep of 2003! Keep an eye on Matt Petrillo (Los Gatos) that was leading when the 2003 mishap occurred. He ran some great times in track and very well may be the favorite this weekend. Look for contenders to include Jimmy Jatho (Los Gatos) and Wes Buntman (Monte Vista Christian) that came on the scene with a 4:34 mile as a freshman. In the team competition, look for the crushing depth of the Madera juggernaut to once again pull off a win. San Benito is just too good up-front to not medal but not quite as deep as Madera and should once again play the role of runner-up. Los Gatos could make it a great battle for a top 3 placing.
The freshman boys are always the great mystery but at least they won’t go the wrong way with our lead scooter!!


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