Ramona High School’s varsity girls finished fourth among the 12 teams at the inaugural The Showdown at Sundown hosted by Mission Hills High School Sept. 26.
The varsity girls results also included a fourth-place individual finish by Ramona’s Chelsey Cortez. Ramona’s freshman-sophomore boys finished fourth among the seven teams in that race, and Ramona’s varsity boys finished seventh among the 14 teams despite losing Conner Jenson during the race due to a sprained ankle.
All of the races were on a 5,000-meter (3.1-mile) course.
“The kids, I think, responded pretty well,” said Coach Steve Albanese. “I didn’t have any expectations going into the meet. I just wanted the kids to continue to work on their pacing and improve, and that’s what they did.”
Cortez posted a time of 18:35 on the course, and Lindsey Spieker finished 11th in the varsity girls race with a time of 19:33. Lauren Cortez completed her 5,000 meters in 20:01 to take 19th in the varsity girls race.
Ashley Duck was 56th among the varsity girls at 21:28 while Tessa Balcom placed 60th after a time of 21:34. Anna Phillips had a time of 23:00 to take 70th place. Caitlin Choi, who rolled her ankle two days before the meet, still posted a 73rd-place time of 23:20—which was 55 seconds per mile faster than her time one week earlier at the Mount Carmel Movin’ Shoes Invitational.
Ramona sophomores Dylan Blankenbaker and Alec Richardson competed in the boys varsity race rather than in the frosh-soph competition. Blankenbaker had Ramona’s top time at 16:31, which gave him 15th place in the race.
“I actually told him to hold back and run with the pack of guys,” Albanese said. “He just sacrificed some places for the good of the team.”
Even with Jenson not being able to complete the race, Ramona’s top six finishers had a spread of 57 seconds. Chance Varnardo-Richardson was 21st at 16:38, Paul Reynolds placed 36th with a time of 16:55, Alec Richardson posted a time of 17:10 to take 43rd place as well as to obtain his first 5,000-meter time under 18 minutes, Tanner Perfect finished 55th at 17:25, and Nathan Morgan took 59th place with a time of 17:28. Max Hughes had a time of 17:37 to earn 66th place, and in his first cross-country race Matt Maple placed 81st with a time of 18:23.
The first night race on its course exposed a poorly lighted section, and course organizers will change that portion for next year’s race.
“It’s just unfortunate that one of my varsity guys had to be the one to suffer through that,” Albanese said.
Jenson sprained his ankle on a downhill portion of the course just past the two-mile marker.
Albanese was also pleased with the spread in the boys freshman-sophomore race. Jose Pilar, who was battling injuries and missed most of the pre-season workouts, took 13th place at 18:15. Ramona took the 18th through 21st finishing positions with Josh Sears posting a time of 18:26, Donny McKay finishing in 18:27, Forrest Riley completing the course in 18:28, and Josh Spieker taking 18:29. Ian Pedlow was 23rd with a time of 18:38.
“For six guys to run 23 seconds apart is amazing,” Albanese said. “They were really tight together at the track.”
Graham Gantzer placed 42nd at 20:18 and Andrew Gregg finished 49th with a time of 20:28, which equates to a decrease of 62 seconds per mile from his race the previous week.
Ramona had six girls compete in the frosh-soph race, and the Bulldogs took eighth among the nine teams in that race. A pack of four Ramona runners finished two seconds apart.
“As a team they were the biggest improvement from last week,” Albanese said.
Times of 24:35 gave Erika Stinchcomb 49th place and Kelly Helman 50th place. Sarah Callan had a time of 24:36 to take 51st while Samantha Jackson was 52nd at 24:37. Daniella Cunningham placed 67th with a time of 25:14. Sara Fabian was 75th with a time of 25:44, which was 85 seconds per mile faster than her race at Morley Field a week earlier.
The Bulldogs open league competition tomorrow with a tri-meet at San Marcos.