by Joe Naiman
A tri-meet Nov. 4 at Dos Picos Park ended the regular season for Ramona High School’s boys cross-country varsity team.
The 1-4 record in Palomar League dual meets deprived the Bulldogs of a league championship banner, which Ramona Coach Steve Albanese and his runners are willing to trade for a CIF section championship banner and possibly the state championship.
“I was not concerned about the score going into the meet, and even afterwards I’m not concerned about it,” Albanese said.
A tri-meet involves runners from all three schools competing in the same race, but the scoring is separated so that each school is scored against each other as if only those schools had competed. Mount Carmel defeated Ramona’s varsity by a 17-40 score while Torrey Pines took a 15-45 win over the Bulldogs as well as a 22-33 victory over the Sundevils.
The focus on training for the CIF and state meets rather than dual meet races made the results less important for Ramona’s varsity, while the rain throughout the race made specific times irrelevant to goals.
“In the back of the course it’s a lot more muddy,” Albanese said.
“The guys have a lot more in them,” Albanese said of the varsity runners’ times. “They’ll be ready when CIF comes.”
The race in the rain was the first for Ramona since the November 2010 CIF section finals.
“Last year it was very rainy at CIF and our guys performed very well in the rain,” Albanese said. “It was good preparation just in case we do experience heavy rains again.”
Ramona won last year’s CIF Division II section finals and had the top three Division II finishers, including winner Dylan Blankenbaker. Blankenbaker is a senior this year, and he fell during the tri-meet.
“He scraped up his leg pretty bad and just didn’t want to push it,” Albanese said.
The scrape will not affect Blankenbaker’s ability to compete at the league, section, or state meets.
“He said he was OK to keep running after the race was over,” Albanese said.
Blankenbaker has also been fighting bronchitis, so the relaxed pace will likely aid in his recovery by the section meet. Ramona senior Graham Gantzer is also expected to be ready for the league meet; Gantzer is nursing an injury and was held out of the tri-meet.
The Dos Picos Park boys course is 3.1-miles. Alec Richardson was Ramona’s first finisher, placing ninth overall with a time of 17:18. Cory Thomas was 12th at 17:37, Donny McKay finished in 17:38 to take 14th place, Forrest Riley posted a 16th-place time of 17:43, Blankenbaker’s time of 18:02 was worth 20th place, Josh Spieker took 18:16 and finished 22nd, and Tristan Stidham had a time of 18:55 which put him in 26th place.
The Palomar League meet will take place Saturday at Kit Carson Park, and each school can enter up to twelve runners. Albanese will use three of Ramona’s junior varsity runners at the league meet. Ramona’s junior varsity squad lost to Torrey Pines by a 24-35 score but took a 29-30 win over Mount Carmel.
“It shows how important every runner is in the top five,” Albanese said of the Bulldogs’ single-point win over the Sundevils. “You can’t give up any places.”
The tri-meet results gave Ramona’s junior varsity a final 3-2 record in league dual meets.
“We have two really strong frontrunners in Isaiah Spieker and Collin Uekert, and they’re both freshmen,” Albanese said.
Isaiah Spieker was the second overall finisher in the junior varsity race with a time of 18:39 while Uekert was fourth at 18:54. Sophomore Anthony Jauregui, who is also slated to run in the league meet, was sixth at 19:18. Brandon Burrill’s time of 20:14 made him the 18th runner across the finish line while Andrew Gregg finished 19th with a time of 20:18.