By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s boys cross country varsity team has the CIF championship as its ultimate goal and is focusing on training toward the CIF meet and not necessarily to win specific dual meets. The Bulldogs’ junior varsity team has the goal of learning how to race.
Both teams met their goals in the dual meet against Rancho Bernardo at the Black Mountain course even though the varsity squad lost by a 22-33 score on Friday.
“I’m happy with our performance,” said Coach Steve Albanese. “The guys did exactly what I told them.”
Rancho Bernardo had the top three finishers in the varsity race. Dylan Blankenbaker was Ramona’s top finisher and placed fourth overall with a time of 17:34 on the 3.15-mile course, which was also Forrest Riley’s fifth-place time. Alec Richardson took 17:38 to earn sixth place.
The Broncos earned seventh-place finishing points, Josh Spieker completed the course in 18:01 and finished eighth, Rancho Bernardo took ninth place, and Donny McKay and Cory Thomas had identical times of 18:08 for the 10th and 11th finishing positions.
“The focus is always performance,” Albanese said. “That’s what I’m telling the guys, and always with the goal of the end of the season in mind.”
If Ramona wins the CIF section championship Nov. 19 — or if the Bulldogs finish second or third — the end of the season will be the Nov. 26 state meet. Ramona’s performance at the section meet will determine whether the Bulldogs’ season is extended, so the larger-field section meet is the target of Albanese’s training.
“Part of that program requires the meets to be workouts,” Albanese said of the dual meets. “We’re not going to win every meet.”
The Rancho Bernardo meet was a “tempo run” for the Bulldogs.
“The idea of a tempo run is to maintain a consistent effort throughout the entire run,” Albanese said.
Albanese did not set time standards for the runners in the Oct. 28 meet.
“I don’t give them a specific pace on a course that’s not flat,” he said of the tempo run. “I let them go based off of feel.”
The Bulldogs’ final dual meet of 2011 will actually be a tri-meet Friday, Nov. 4, when Mount Carmel and Torrey Pines join the Bulldogs on the Dos Picos Park course.
Ramona’s junior varsity ceded the top finishing position to a Rancho Bernardo runner before taking second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth place. The Bulldogs had eight of the top ten finishers in their 20-41 victory.
“I’m really impressed with JV,” Albanese said. “Our JV looked really, really good.”
The second through sixth finishers were freshman Collin Uekert, freshman Isaiah Spieker, sophomore Anthony Jauregui, sophomore Eric Szymanski, and freshman James Meskell. Had the Broncos retained their positions after the first mile, they would have won the race.
“Our guys saved a lot of energy and over the last two miles passed a lot of guys,” Albanese said.