Cross country holds onto first-place hopes

   Had Ramona High School’s varsity boys cross country team defeated Mount Carmel as well as Oceanside during a Nov. 6 tri-meet at Dos Picos Park, Ramona and Westview would have been tied for first place with 5-1 records entering the Valley League meet.

   Mount Carmel’s 21-39 victory gave the Sundevils the 5-1 record while leaving Ramona a 4-2 mark entering the league competition Saturday at Kit Carson Park.

   “They’re probably the deepest team in the league,” Ramona Coach Steve Albanese said of Mount Carmel.

   Ramona was the only team to defeat Westview while Westview handed Mount Carmel its only loss.  Ramona also lost to Valley Center, which also enters the league meet with a 4-2 record.

   The final league standings are based on both dual-meet/tri-meet competition and the league finals.  “If we win the league, then we can still probably tie for first place,” Albanese said.

   A tri-meet consists of a single race for each category, and runners are scored against those of each other team. In the Ramona-Mount Carmel breakdown, the Sundevils had the first two boys finishers, Ramona had the third and fourth finishers, and Mount Carmel had the fifth through eighth finishers and the 10th finisher. While the positions of the first five finishers are used for the team score, a team’s sixth and seventh finishers can add to the other team’s score.

   Ramona’s varsity boys earned a 15-48 victory over Oceanside, taking the first six positions as well as the ninth spot.

   The tri-meet saw the return of Ramona’s Conner Jenson, who sprained an ankle at a Sept. 26 invitational, but Jenson dropped out of the race as a precautionary measure due to pain in his ankle.  

   “I’m just glad he made it through without reinjuring his ankle,” Albanese said.

   Dylan Blankenbaker was Ramona’s first finisher, completing the 5,000-meter (3.1-mile) course in 17:17.  Chance Varnardo-Richardson had a time of 17:28, Paul Reynolds took 17:45, and Nathan Morgan posted a time of 17:54.  

   “I think Nathan had the best race of the day.  It was his breakthrough race,” Albanese said.

(At the Southern California Invitational Oct. 18 on the 3.06-mile Guajome Park course, Morgan had a time of 19:07.)

   Alec Richardson was Ramona’s fifth finisher at 18:03, Tanner Perfect crossed the finish line 18:05 after the starting gun, Matt Maple ran the course in 18:25, Forrest Riley took 18:37, and Max Hughes completed the distance in 18:40.

   “Even though we lost our last two races, I feel our guys are coming on strong,” Albanese said. “We’re starting to peak right now.”

   Ramona’s varsity girls lost 23-36 to Mount Carmel and beat Oceanside by a 20-35 score.  Chelsey Cortez placed third overall at 19:17, Lindsey Spieker was fourth with a time of 17:23, Lauren Cortez had a sixth-place time of 19:32, Anna Phillips took 20:14 to earn 14th place, Erika Stinchcomb’s time of 23:10 made her the 17th finisher, and Sarah Callan posted an 18th-place time of 23:31.

   The varsity girls will enter the league meet with a 3-3 record.

   Ramona’s junior varsity boys defeated both Mount Carmel and Oceanside, giving them a 7-1 Valley League record (Del Norte and Mission Vista have junior varsity cross-country but no varsity teams).  

   “They had a great year,” Albanese said.

   Ramona’s Donny McKay won the junior varsity race with a time of 18:47.  

   “He stepped up big over the last two races and showed me he’s ready to run in the league race with the varsity boys,” Albanese said.

   Griffin Gamble was Ramona’s next finisher, taking fifth place overall at 19:03. Josh Sears was sixth with a time of 19:20, Josh Spieker had a time of 19:27 to place seventh, Ian Pedlow’s time of 19:29 was worth eighth place, Darien Hightower ran the course in 19:47 to take ninth place, Cory Thomas had the 10th-place time at 19:48, and Graham Gantzer finished 11th at 19:51.

   Brianna Wallace, who won the previous week’s girls junior varsity race, dropped out of the November 6 race due to hip pain, and Sara Fabian also dropped out due to injury.  Because the Bulldogs did not have five finishers, they were not scored.  Daniela Cunningham was Ramona’s top finisher at 20:37.

   
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