By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s boys cross country team will enter the Valley League meet Saturday at Guajome Park tied with Del Norte for the league lead.
High school cross country league championships are determined by records in dual meet competition and by standings at the league meet. The results of Saturday’s league meet will determine the Valley League champion.
There is no such league meet for the junior varsity, so Ramona’s JV team won the Valley League championship after winning all five of its dual meets.
“Both varsity and JV looked strong all season,” said coach Steve Albanese.
The Bulldogs’ only varsity loss was against Orange Glen on Sept. 27, when Albanese held out five of his top runners for the Stanford Invitational meet two days later. Orange Glen subsequently lost to Valley Center and Del Norte.
Del Norte’s only loss took place Oct. 26 at Dos Picos Park, where Ramona’s boys posted a 25-34 victory. Forrest Riley’s time of 16:29 on the 5,000-meter (3.1-mile) course made him the first finisher. Tristan Stidham finished third with a time of 17:00. Josh Spieker finished the race in 17:07 for fifth place, Cory Thomas took 17:09 and finished sixth, Isaiah Spieker had an eighth-place time of 17:27, Max Edwards finished 10th at 17:32, and Wesley Hardin took 11th place with a time of 17:39.
Ramona’s junior varsity took the top six positions against Del Norte. Colin Uekert won the race in 18:07, Anthony Jauregui spent 18:08 racing, Joey Jauregui needed 18:19 to complete the race, James Meskell was on the course for 18:35, Matt Meskell finished in 18:36, and Eric Szymanski raced for 18:56.
On Nov. 1 Guajome Park’s 5,000-meter course was the site of a tri-meet between Ramona, Oceanside, and Valley Center.
In a tri-meet, or double dual meet, runners from all three schools compete in the same race but each team is scored against each other team. Ramona’s varsity took a 15-50 victory over Oceanside and a 23-36 win over Valley Center to give the Jaguars their second loss of the season.
“The idea was just to put our 1 (first finisher) in front of their 1 and our 2 in front of their 2 and all the way through the end,” Albanese said.
Riley, Stidham, and Thomas have been Ramona’s top three runners during the season. The Spieker brothers, Edwards, and Hardin have had various positions in the fourth through seventh roles.
“I wanted all of those guys to beat their number four,” Albanese said. “They did.”
The focus was thus on positions rather than times.
“We basically ran as a pack for two miles and split up after that,” Albanese said.
The pack reached the first mile in 5:42 before taking 5:10 for the second mile. Riley eventually won the race in 16:50, Thomas finished second with a time of 16:51, Stidham posted a fifth-place time of 16:57, Edwards finished seventh at 17:17, Josh Spieker took 17:19 and eighth place, Isaiah Spieker had a ninth-place time of 17:27, and Hardin’s time of 17:30 was worth 10th place.
Ramona’s JV runners took the top six positions. The first five runners were within one second of each other both at one mile, which took 5:50, and at two miles, which occurred 11:33 after the starter’s gun was fired. Anthony Jauregui’s time of 18:02 gave him his first race win, Uekert had an 18:05 performance, Szymanski completed the course in 18:09, Joey Jauregui took 18:12, James Meskell raced for 18:32, and Matt Meskell finished at 18:38.
“I’ve got a good group of young guys,” Albanese said. “Every single one of them improved significantly throughout the season.”
The league meet will be followed by the CIF San Diego Section meet Nov. 17. If Ramona is one of the top three teams in Division II, the Bulldogs will qualify for the state meet Nov. 24.
“We’re excited to start competing in the post-season,” Albanese said.