Bulldog juniors and seniors take first in team races
By Joe Naiman
As an individual, Ramona High School senior Dylan Blankenbaker took first place in the Division 2 senior boys race at the Mount Carmel/Movin’ Shoes Cross Country Invite at Morley Field in San Diego on Saturday, and as a team Ramona took first place in the junior race as well as in the senior race.
“I’m very pleased,” said Coach Steve Albanese.
Had overall results been based on times (cross country team scores add the positions of the first five finishers), Ramona would have finished second among the 93 schools from all divisions, behind Rancho Cucamonga and 2 points ahead of La Costa Canyon.
“It’s good to see our guys up front,” Albanese said.
Ramona took two of the top three positions and three of the top seven spots in the senior race. Blankenbaker’s winning time of 15:11 on the 2.95-mile course was followed by the 15:30 from Tucson runner Tyler Stamp of Sabino High School and the 15:37 performance of Ramona’s Alec Richardson.
Blankenbaker had a first-mile time of 5:08 and a second-mile time of 5:09.
“The first two miles he was sitting back in the pack,” Albanese said.
Blankenbaker’s move to the front in the final portion of the race resulted in the 19-second victory.
“He could have gone faster had he had to race,” Albanese said.
Blankenbaker and the rest of Ramona’s varsity will leave tomorrow for Portland, Ore., where they will race in Saturday’s Nike Pre-Nationals. The lack of a close race allowed Blankenbaker to conserve physical resources for the Nike Pre-Nationals.
A total of 176 Division 2 seniors competed at the Mount Carmel/Movin’ Shoes Cross Country Invite. Ramona’s third finisher, Donnie McKay, had a seventh-place time of 15:59.
“Donnie McKay established himself as one of the top runners in the area by breaking 16 minutes,” Albanese said. “I was pleased with the way he raced.”
Graham Gantzer placed 20th with a time of 16:27. Ramona’s final scored finisher, Ian Pedlow, took 48th place after completing the course in 17:13.
“He closed very hard and passed a few people coming into the finish,” Albanese said of Pedlow.
That accounted for Ramona’s 1-point victory over Cathedral Catholic, which finished ahead of Ramona in the 2010 meet. Ramona’s sixth senior finisher, Jose Pilar, earned 64th place with a time of 17:53.
The Division 2 junior race had 260 runners. Forrest Riley finished fifth with a time of 15:42, Cory Thomas had a 13th-place time of 16:13, Josh Spieker placed 27th at 16:44, and Tristan Stidham earned 37th place after taking 16:55. Runners from schools with fewer than five competitors in a race were not scored for team purposes, and Brandon Burrill’s 128th-place time of 18:52 allowed Ramona to conclude its scorers 9 points ahead of Valhalla. Andrew Gregg had a time of 19:04 to place 134th.
Three Ramona sophomores finished in the top half of their 259-runner field. Eric Szymanski crossed the finish line 18:46 after the starting gun was fired and claimed 86th place, Connor Swan’s time of 19:11 was worth 103rd place, and Anthony Jauregui was the 121st finisher with a time of 19:28.
Isaiah Spieker finished sixth among the 213 Division 2 freshmen, doing so in 17:43. The Meskell twins ran together with James Meskell having a 30th-place run of 18:57 and Mike Meskell placing 32nd at 18:58.