Ramona High School’s boys cross-country team defeated Oceanside by a 17-40 score Oct. 31 at Guajome Park, but what might be even more impressive than the win is that Ramona’s top four finishers all crossed the line together.
Max Hughes, Paul Reynolds, Chance Varnardo-Richardson, and Tanner Perfect all posted times of 18:17 on the 3.0-mile course to take the top four positions.
“That’s really impressive,” said Steve Emery, head coach.
Coach Mario Balcom is in charge of the varsity boys and oriented practices toward a strategy of running together.
“He wanted them to run it that way, and they followed through,” Emery said.
Not only did Ramona’s first four varsity boys cross the finish line together, but so did the first three junior varsity boys.
“Pretty awesome,” Emery said.
In a cross-country dual meet, the positions of the first five finishers for each team are added to determine the team score.
While a team’s sixth and seventh finishers are not scored, if they finish ahead of any of the other team’s top five runners their places would add positions to the opponents’ score. The fifth and sixth overall finishers in the varsity race were Oceanside student-athletes, but Ramona’s Nathan Morgan finished seventh at 18:41. Matt Mazzola took ninth place with a time of 19:00.
Mazzola’s time gave Ramona a separation of only 43 seconds between the Bulldogs’ top six finishers.
“Pretty neat,” Emery said.
Ramona’s Tanner Jorgenson finished 13th overall at 19:54.
In the junior varsity race, Jose Pilar, Dylan Blankenbaker, and Alec Richardson all crossed the finish line at 18:55. Although Blankenbaker is a freshman, he had not previously competed in a junior varsity race.
In the Southern California Invitational meet Oct. 18, Blankenbaker pulled a muscle and did not finish, so Emery and other coaches put Blankenbaker in the less competitive race so that he could nurse his injury.
“He seems like he’s ready to go,” Emery said.
Ramona’s junior varsity runners took five of the top eight and seven of the top eleven positions in the race.
The varsity win over Oceanside improved Ramona’s record to 3-1 in Valley League dual meets.
“We’re really excited,” said Emery.
“This is exactly what we needed this time of the season.” Ramona will host a tri-meet tomorrow with Valley Center and San Marcos visiting the Ramona Oaks course.
“We’re going to have a pretty tough meet,” Emery said.