By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s boys cross country team finished eighth among the 32 teams in the seeded race of the Stanford Invitational meet Sept. 29.
“They did pretty well,” said Coach Steve Albanese. “I go in wanting to win races, but I was not disappointed because of where we’re at this season.”
The Bulldogs took seven runners to the Stanford Invitational, and five of those finished in the top half of the race’s 223-competitor field. The only Division II team to finish ahead of Ramona was Mt. Carmel, which gave Albanese and his runners an idea of what the Bulldogs will need to do to beat the Sundevils at the CIF San Diego Section meet.
Ramona’s first, second, and fifth finishers had faster times than their Mt. Carmel counterparts, but the Sundevils’ third and fourth runners finished ahead of their Ramona equivalents.
“There were a lot of points in between,” Albanese said.
Team scores are obtained by adding the positions of a team’s top five finishers.
“We really need to work on our 3-4-5 runners,” Albanese said. “That’s where the points really add up.”
Ramona’s first finisher was senior Forrest Riley, whose time of 15:33 on the 5,000-meter (3.1-mile) course placed ninth not only in the seeded race but also among all 1,330 runners who competed at the Stanford Invitational. Ramona senior Tristan Stidham was 24th in the seeded race at 16:04, senior Cory Thomas placed 66th with a time of 16:32, senior Wesley Hardin was 103rd at 16:54, and senior Josh Spieker had a 106th-place time of 16:55.
Ramona’s two other runners were sophomores. Max Edwards took 17:17 and finished 134th. Isaiah Spieker posted a time of 17:20 for 135th place.
The Bulldogs also had a Valley League dual meet Sept. 27 against Orange Glen on the 5,000-meter Dos Picos Park course. Five of Ramona’s top seven runners did not compete against the Patriots.
“I was saving them for Saturday,” Albanese said. “I basically ran my whole JV squad.”
Riley and Hardin ran against Orange Glen and at the Stanford Invitational.
“I had them take it easy on Thursday, though, so they’d be fresh for Saturday,” Albanese said.
Riley finished second with a time of 17:46 while Hardin was third at 17:56. Colin Uekert would have finished fourth, but he stopped for a drink of water and was disqualified.
“That was the difference between us winning and losing,” Albanese said.
Anthony Jauregui placed sixth at 18:35, Matt Meskell’s time of 18:51 gave him eighth place, and Eric Szymanski took 11th place with a 19:38 performance. The Patriots won by a 26-30 score.