By Joe Naimain
Ramona High School’s boys junior varsity cross country team took first place at the Showdown at Sundown meet Sept. 10 in Vista. Bulldog juniors Josh Spieker and Tristan Stidham were the first two finishers.
Ramona’s top five finishers all placed in the top 10 with two other Bulldogs finishing among the top 20. The race had 119 runners.
“From the beginning of the race we had boys up in the lead pack,” said Coach Steve Albanese. “To have five in the top 10 shows that they followed the race plan really well and they were competitive throughout.”
Ramona’s next meet will be the Mount Carmel/Movin’ Shoes Cross-Country Invite this Saturday at Morley Field in San Diego, and the varsity squad will travel to Portland, Oregon, the following weekend for the Nike Pre-Nationals, so Ramona’s varsity runners did not compete in the Showdown at Sundown.
“I’m trying to give the kids a weekend where they don’t have to race,” Albanese said.
Spieker had a time of 16:58 on the 5,000-meter (3.1-mile) course.
“He definitely had the best race of the day,” Albanese said.
Spieker’s time was a 3:14 improvement over his time of 20:12 at the 2010 Showdown at Sundown meet.
“After the first mile he ran by himself for the rest of the race,” Albanese said of Spieker.
Stidham’s time of 17:20 was the closest a runner from any school came to matching Spieker’s time. The Showdown at Sundown allows seniors to compete in the junior varsity races, and Ramona twelfth-grader Jose Pilar’s time of 17:51 placed seventh overall.
Freshman Isaiah Spieker placed eighth at 18:00 and sophomore Anthony Jauregui had a ninth-place time of 18:09 to give the Bulldogs a 71-second split for the first five runners.
“That’s a very good split,” Albanese said.
Freshman Collin Uekert was Ramona’s fastest runner in the freshman-sophomore race Sept. 3 at the Vaquero Stampede meet, but Uekert had a soccer commitment and missed the Showdown at Sundown.
“We might have had a smaller split had he run,” Albanese said.
Josh Spieker’s victory was the second consecutive for Ramona in the Showdown at Sundown junior varsity boys race; current senior Ian Pedlow won last year’s race.
Ramona’s sixth and seventh runners, the freshmen Meskell twins, also finished in the top fifth of the field. James Meskell’s 12th-place time was 18:40 while Mike Meskell’s time of 19:01 gave him 20th place.
Ramona’s boys won the junior-senior division at the Vaquero Stampede while finishing second in the freshman-sophomore race, so the Showdown at Sundown gave Ramona varsity and junior varsity wins in the Bulldogs’ first two meets.
“It bodes well for the rest of the season and the future of the program,” Albanese said.