Cross country swarms competition

Claremont High School cross-country coach Bill Reeves may be a man of few words, but he certainly got the message across to his runners: go for the team win over individual results.

And that’s exactly what happened as the Wolfpack swept the second Palomares League meet on Tuesday at Bonelli Regional Park, even though the highest varsity place was second place.

The boys varsity team ran in a very tight pack for the first 10 or 12 minutes with five Claremont runners joined by a pair from Ayala and Bonita as well as one Diamond Bar runner.

However, in the final push for the finish, Ayala’s Steven Kahn picked up the pace forcing the rest to chase. In the end Kahn came in first at 15:13 followed by Claremont’s Ryan Renken at 15:15 and Ayala’s Gavin Bradley at 15:28. The next highest place for the Pack was Tab Backman who took seventh at 15:48, but Claremont also got five of the next six places, clinching the team title. The final score was Claremont 36, Bonita 53 and Ayala 60.

The girls varsity race was remarkably similar with the top runners largely sticking together and pacing themselves for the finish. This time it was Bonita’s Kelsey Creese who eventually broke away, taking first at 18:16 followed by Ayala’s Sydney Tullai at 18:21 and Claremont’s Annie Boos at 18:27. Again the team tactic worked for Claremont as they snatched six of the next nine spots and the overall victory: Claremont 27, Ayala 59 and Bonita 66.

Watching the girls junior varsity race, one might have think Claremont was the only team that showed up, at least for those watching the front of the race. In all, the massive girls JV team took 17 of the top 20 places including the top nine spots led by Alyssa Cantrell’s first place finish at 19:24, Kyla Morris at 19:39 and Sarah Ayala at 19:52.

The meet got off to a hectic start because the timing personnel accidentally went to the wrong location, causing an hour delay. As a result the freshman, sophmore and junior varsity boys races were combined in an effort to save time resulting in one massive pack of competitors.

With all of those runners out on the course even the coaches were a bit confused.

“I can’t tell if we are winning,” said Coach Reeves as the bulk of the runners passed during the first of two laps.

But win they did with Sergio Espinoza taking first in the JV race at 16:29 followed by Ayala’s Andrew Martinez at 16:42 and Claremont’s Jacob Gomez at 16:47. The Pack also had seven of the top ten places for the team victory.

As he waited for the timing crew to arrive Coach Reeves elaborated on his overall plan for the meet.

With the Pack’s top finish in the first league meet Coach Reeves told his team, “they will be coming after us, so you’ve got to come out and race.” But at the same time he warned them: “you can only go to the well so many times,” a euphemism for going all out in an effort to take a top spot.

Instead he told them to save their energy for the league finals and then go for the personal win.

Next up for cross-country is the Clovis Invite on October 10.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com

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