By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s boys cross country team placed second among Division II schools in the CIF San Diego Section meet at Morley Field in San Diego on Saturday, qualifying the Bulldogs for the state meet at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday, Nov. 26.
Team cross country scores are determined by adding the positions of the top five runners. La Costa Canyon had 56 points while Ramona accumulated 65 points.
“I thought we could have beat them,” said Coach Steve Albanese. “We’ll have a shot at them next week.”
“Next week” now means this Saturday, as the top three Division II teams qualified for the state meet.
Mount Carmel placed third with 103 points. The top three Division II teams qualified for the state meet.
La Costa Canyon senior Darren Fahy was the first individual finisher, completing the 5,000-meter (3.1-mile) course in 15:23. Ramona senior Dylan Blankenbaker took second place at 15:37. La Costa Canyon’s Eric Causey took third place with a time of 15:47.
“Without them in our division, we would have all five of our guys in the top 20,” Albanese said of the addition of La Costa Canyon and Rancho Bernardo to Division II.
Last year Blankenbaker won the Division II race with a time of 16:20 on a muddy course. Last year La Costa Canyon was in Division I and took second place behind Rancho Bernardo while Fahy had a third-place time, behind two 2010 seniors, of 15:48. This year Rancho Bernardo was also moved down to Division II, and nine of the top 10 times from all divisions were posted by Division II runners. Poway’s Eric Hayen had a time of 15:57, which placed fifth overall.
Ramona’s second finisher also placed directly behind one of the Fahy brothers; sophomore Steven Fahy and Bulldog senior Alec Richardson both had times of 16:06, but the younger Fahy finished ahead of Richardson to take sixth place while Richardson settled for seventh place. Richardson posted a time of 16:55 in last year’s race.
The top 10 finishers earned all-CIF first-team status while the second 10 finishers received second-team all-CIF honors.
The first-team berths of Blankenbaker and Richardson were complemented by second-team accolades for juniors Forrest Riley and Cory Thomas; Riley took 16:23 and finished 13th while Thomas’ time of 16:40 gave him 18th place. Riley, who was slightly ill Nov. 19, ran the 2010 race in 16:23; Thomas was not one of Ramona’s seven runners last year.
“I’m thrilled with the way he’s come on at the end of the season,” Albanese said of Thomas.
Senior Donny McKay, who took 17:38 in the 2010 CIF section meet, completed the course this year in 16:56 to take 25th place.
Ramona’s sixth finisher was junior Tristan Stidham, who posted a 46th-place time of 17:21.
Senior Graham Gantzer placed 75th among the 147 Division II runners with a time of 18:06.