By Joe Naiman
Members of Ramona High School’s girls cross country team were expecting rain for the Palomar League meet Nov. 12 at Kit Carson Park. What Coach Kim Toth and her runners were not expecting was that the league meet officials would change the course used for the North County Conference league meets.
“None of them ran the hills at all,” Toth said. “Everything was pretty much on the grass and on the concrete.”
That for the most part improved the safety of the course, which retained the 2.75-mile distance of the originally-planned course.
“There were two spots that were real muddy,” Toth said. “Fortunately none of our girls fell.”
Cross country practice sometimes includes running a course prior to the race, so the new configuration adversely affected mental preparation.
“It throws you off,” Toth said. “Running is probably 90 to 95 percent in your head.”
The flatter course also took away Ramona’s traditional advantage on hills, where the Bulldog runners tend to pass competitors.
“The hills work to our advantage usually,” Toth said.
A school can enter up to 12 runners in the league meet, and Ramona had 13 varsity and junior varsity runners who were able to compete. One of them was senior Sam Kershaw, who would have been given one final high school cross country race had she desired. Kershaw is battling tendinitis and chose to end her high school career with the Nov. 4 tri-meet at Dos Picos Park.
Ten of Ramona’s 12 runners comprised the final finishers of the 70-girl field. Ramona’s first finisher was senior Lauren Cortez, who woke up sick that morning. Cortez’s time of 19:36 placed her 33rd among the league’s runners and 1:48 behind the first-place time of Torrey Pines’ Ashlyn Dadkhah.
Freshman Cassidy Blankenbaker was the other Ramona runner who finished ahead of any league opponents. Blankenbaker’s time of 20:46 gave her 52nd place.
Sophomore Rachel Brown’s time of 21:45 placed 61st, sophomore Teresa Leon finished 62nd at 22:00, senior Caitlyn Choy posted a 63rd-place time of 22:49, senior Summer Lempe took 22:50 and received 64th place, and senior Kelly Helman was 65th with a time of 22:59.
Toth is allowed to enter seven runners in the CIF meet, which will take place Saturday at Morley Field. Senior Rachel Lindquist, who was Ramona’s eighth finisher, is entered as the alternate.