Yesterday the Hillview team loaded up a bus full of runners and headed down to Mt San Antonio College. The Mt SAC Invitational XC Meet for middle schools is by far the largest cross country meet in the nation. My runners participated i 6 races.
The first group to run was the 8th grade boys. We lined them up according to their rankings coming in. Andrew Mitchell, Herschel Smith, Bryce Butler, Martin Plascencia, Taylor Stephenson, Ikenna Achara, and Kris Vidal. Additionally, Jake Kuhlemeier, Kyle Loya, Tommy Flanigan, Alex DeShields and Leo Arguellas were in the race. Going in, I knew that Andrew and Herschel were the top two boys that I have ever had. I ran to where I could spot the boys cresting the first hill (Reservoir Hill). It looked like Herschel was in a small group of leaders. I could see some other familiar green and white runners all in the top 15 or 20. As they came of the hill they were all running strong and up with the leaders. Near the 1 mile mark there were two boys followed closely by Andrew. Herschel was starting to drop back a little in 4th and Bryce was not far behind him. Martin, Taylor and Ikenna were all in the top 20. As I saw Andrew just behind the leaders I almost felt sorry for them. I have watched Andrew pass Herschel and other runners in the last mile all season long. Sure enough coming off of switchbacks Andrew was in the lead with the other two trailing by 10s of meters behind him. Herschel was 4 and Bryce was 5! 10 or 12 other boys went by and then came Martin, Ikenna and Taylor. I told them they had to catch somebody if they wanted a medal (top 15). Then I rushed to the finish chute to see how they came out. I got there just in time to see them put a firstplace cowbell on Andrew’s head! This is only the 3rd Hillview runner to ever win a cowbell at Mt SAC. The others were Wesley Washington in 2004 (now at University of Pittsburgh) and Caylie Choate as a 7th grader in 2005. Bryce had passed Herschel for 4th place and Herschel was 5th! Taylor Stephenson finished strong and got that last medal at 15th. Martin was 17th and Ikenna was 21st, We had 6 runners in the top 21! Kris was a very respectable 53rd place. It took a long time to get the official results, but Hillview was a dominating winner of this race!
The 8th grade girls raced next. I was not expecting quite as much from them as they are not as deep as the boys. Our top girl was Kristine Mendoza who finished 23rd followed by Trya in 27th. The rest were in the 60s and 80s. The team placed 6th.
The 7th grade boys were next and I had some cautious optimism on a top 3 finish. Our top boy had has been Bryce Webb. Leo Oliva and Luis Rocha have been solid in two and 3. Cade Ruble and Elijah Gates have been alternating in 4 and 5 with some strong support from Jimmy Main and then Tyler Grizzell. As we prepared for the race, I found out that Jimmy had a sprained ankle and would not be running. As the race played out I could see that Cade was not running well. I found out later that he was hurting as well. Bryce ran well and earned a medal for a 14th place finish. Leo was 17th, Luis 22nd and Elijah 26th. So far so good. Without Jimmy or a strong Cade, Tyler had to run his best race ever. He did pretty well finising 62nd. The team ended up 4th place. They were very happy with the consolation of knowing that Joe Walker, who had beat them on Tuesday, was 11th place in the same race.
The 7th grade girls were led by Gabby Castro. Gabby was 23rd place. The girls were 13th place as a team.
The other team I had very high hopes for was the 6th grade boys. Adam saw Andrew’s cowbell and wanted one for himself. Adam was in the lead from the beginning and ran the race without any serious challenge. Everytime he ran by I yelled “cowbell!” He looked so focused and determined I am not sure if he ever heard me. The others fought and moved up consistently as the race progressed. Ben Hoeft was 10th, Ben Sumner was 11th and Thomas Ortega was 13th. Derek Rodriguez, who is typically our number 6 guy came in at 27th to round off the scoring. Noah was close behind him in 31st. The team won 53 to 70 over Palos Verdes!
Our 6th grade girls had strong runs from the top runners but there was not quite enough speed in the number 5 spot. Natalie Gutierrez placed 13th and won the only placing medal for a girl for the day! The team finished in 4th place.
You can click here to see all the Mt SAC results. We were in races, 2, 6, 8, 12, 16, and 18.
One final note, those crazy fast Joe Walker 7th grade girls won their race. Race number 11. Mariah Castillo won a cowbell taking first place for them. They will be fun (and frustrating) to race against next year…..