Bulldog boys third at Nike Pre-Nationals
Dylan Blankenbaker finishes second
By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s boys cross country team took third in the premier division at the Nike Pre-Nationals meet in Portland, Oregon, while Bulldog senior Dylan Blankenbaker was the second finisher both in the division and for all runners.
“They ran a great race,” said Coach Steve Albanese.
Ramona finished third among the 25 teams in the Danner Championship Division boys race on Saturday. The meet was hosted by Aloha High School, which won six state championships in the 1980s under Coach Jim Danner
“It’s excellent,” Albanese said of the finish.
Cross country team scores add the positions of the first five finishers. Gig Harbor (Washington) won the Danner Championship Division with 126 points, Madera South had 147 points, Ramona totaled 167 points, and Jesuit (Oregon) finished fourth with 171 points.
“In the big meets my biggest concern is where my 4-5 finishers come in,” Albanese said.
Donny McKay, Ramona’s fourth finisher, placed 64th while Graham Gantzer crossed the finish line in 71st place.
“Every point matters and Graham had a great last mile of his race and passed a lot of guys coming into the finish,” Albanese said.
Blankenbaker was closer to first-place runner Jacob Smith of Wenatchee (Washington) High School than to
third-place finisher Korey Krotzer of Auburn Riverside (Washington) High School. Smith won the race with a time of 15:10.19 on the 5,000-meter (3.1-mile) Portland Meadows course,
Blankenbaker took 15:12.54, and Krotzer’s time was 15:24.37.
“I just ran out of real estate,” Blankenbaker said. “I just let him get too far away from me in the second mile.”
Blankenbaker took 4:42 for the final mile.
“He was, I would say, probably 15 seconds behind this guy, behind Jacob Smith, with a mile to go and Dylan ran out of his mind in the last mile,” Albanese said.
Blankenbaker passed Krotzer in the final mile.
“We were kind of going back and forth,” Blankenbaker said. “I opened up that lead on him.”
Cross country tends to use course personal records rather than distance personal records due to differing terrain between venues, but Blankenbaker’s time was a distance personal record by 16 seconds.
“I was really excited about it,” he said.
Blankenbaker ran Fresno’s Woodward Park course in 15:28 during last year’s state finals.
“I think Woodward’s actually faster than this course,” he said, noting that the Portland Meadows course had sharper turns.
Ramona’s second finisher was Forrest Riley, who placed 17th with a time of 15:59.75.
“Going into the race he wasn’t feeling all that well,” Albanese said.
Riley ran the state meet in 16:03, so the Nike Pre-Nationals was his first 5,000-meter race under 16 minutes.
“I knew he had the potential,” Albanese said.
Alec Richardson finished in 27th place and completed the course in 16:13.87. Richardson took 16:21 at the state meet.
McKay, who ran last year’s state meet in 17:09, had a time of 16:40.55 at the Nike Pre-Nationals. Gantzer, who did not run at last year’s state meet, completed the Portland course in 16:45.17.
Ramona’s sixth finisher was Cory Thomas, who had a 98th-place time of 17:03.57.
“I would say that Cory had an off-day. His stomach was hurting,” Albanese said.
Ian Pedlow was Ramona’s other runner and had a time of 17:35.99 to place 143rd among the 178 runners in the Danner Championship Division boys race.
Ramona was one of two CIF San Diego Section teams to compete at the Nike Pre-Nationals. Vista competed in Division 2. The Panthers also finished third as a team and had the division’s second-fastest runner, although Steve Maher’s time of 16:38.33 trailed the top three Ramona runners.
Madera South is coached by Fallbrook High School graduate Rich Parris. The Stallions and the Bulldogs are both in Division II for California state championship purposes, but Albanese isn’t concerned about the Central Section school’s margin of victory in the Nike Pre-Nationals.
“If one guy runs 20 seconds faster, then we beat Madera South,” Albanese said. “They’re not all that far ahead of us.”
Ramona’s focus at this point of the season has been strength, hills, and distance.
“Our guys have not done any initial work, any race pace work, up to this point,” Albanese said, noting that he expects his runners’ times to drop as the season progresses.
“I’m really happy we were able to pull off a good run as a team,” Blankenbaker said.
- Bulldog JV boys win Showdown at Sundown
- Blankenbaker places first in regional meet
- Two Ramona runners compete in state meet
- Blankenbaker, Spieker qualify for state meet
- Blankenbaker runs 1,600 in 4:15.33 to place 19th at state
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