6/3 – 27 Club Records Set as Epic Spring Season Comes to a Close

Strawberry Canyon Track Club competed in both road and track races in the Spring 2018 season

In yet another successful and prolific racing season, Spring 2018 was very kind to Strawberry Canyon Track Club. Things were bound to get off to a good start when a random mid-January track workout became the most highly attended practice in club history (with 40+ Berries in attendance!); however, this was just the first of many club records that would fall in the subsequent months. 

Lots of Berries putting in the early season work at a Monday interval session

Between the tracks and roads, the first five months of 2018 played host to an astonishing 27 new club records (and far, far more personal bests) covering 21 different disciplines ranging from 60m hurdles to the marathon, and spanning seven age / gender divisions. (As always keep up to date with the latest club records and SCTC PBs on our records page!)

  • Open Men 60m Hurdles – Stephen Bailey
  • Open Men 110m Hurdles – Stephen Bailey
  • Open Men 200m – Stephen Bailey
  • Senior Men 400m – Tom LeGan
  • Open Men 400m Hurdles – Stephen Bailey
  • Senior Men 800m – Tom LeGan
  • Open Men 1500m – Harmen Hoek
  • Masters Women 1500m – Vanessa Lordi
  • Senior Men 1500m – Tom LeGan*
  • Masters+ Women Mile (road) – Jen Bayliss
  • Masters+ Men Mile (track) – Stephen Agar
  • Open Men 3000m – Harmen Hoek
  • Open Women 3000m – Megan Gentes
  • Masters Men 3200m – George Torgun
  • Open Men 3000m Steeplechase – Ben Harper
  • Open Women 5000m (track) – Madeline Duhon
  • Masters Men 5000m (track) – George Torgun
  • Masters+ Men 5k (road) – Jaime Heilpern
  • Masters+ Women 5k (road) – Jen Bayliss
  • Open Men 10000m (track) – Jonathan Briskman
  • Masters+ Women 10k (road) – Jen Bayliss**
  • Open Men 15k – Jonathan Briskman
  • Open Women 10 mile – Madeline Duhon
  • Masters+ Women 10 mile – Jen Bayliss
  • Senior Men 10 mile – John Hill
  • Masters+ Women 25k – Jen Bayliss***
  • Open Men Half Marathon – Jonathan Briskman
  • Senior Men Marathon – John Hill
*Club’s all-time best age-grade performance, 94.68% at the Sacramento State Open
** USATF National Masters 10k Champion, 37:19 at the James Joyce Ramble
*** USATF National Masters 25k Champion, 1:40:13 at the River Bank Run
 
But to look only at the records is to see only a small part of the story of the season’s success. 
 

On the track

The temporary closure of SFSU’s track lead to a circuit with a different look than usual. As is tradition, however, the season started with the three Cal All-Comers meets in January and February on our home track. A great opportunity to shake off the cobwebs and get the feel for race pace, these meets, along with a trip down to Los Gatos for their All-Comers meet, served as the launching point for the season.
 

Madeline Duhon runs to a 5000m club record at the UC Davis Aggie Open

Things really got rolling at the Oxy Distance Carnival in Los Angeles and the Aggie Open in Davis in mid-March, which is where the first records started to fall. Next up was the first of two trips to the state capital for the Sacramento State Hornet Invitational, which was the grounds of several eventual season bests.

As April rolled around, focus shifted to Hayward where the club favorite meet SFSU Distance Carnival (temporarily relocated) and CSU East Bay Open took place. Between these two meets many club records and PRs fell as Berries took advantage of highly competitive fields. Late April featured a return to Edwards Stadium at Cal’s Brutus Hamilton Open, where unfavorable conditions lead to some off-the-mark times. However, the season was certainly not over.  

Ryan Smith competes at the Cal Brutus Hamilton Open

May brought about the final meets of the season with the Sacramento State Open and Oxy Invitational. These meets again had a high concentration of breakout races, most notably the setting of the club’s all-time age grade performance by Tom LeGan in Sacramento with a 4:10.97 1500, corresponding to an astounding 94.68% age grade, at the age of 51.
 
While the major spring meets have come to a close, some Berries are diligently pushing forward towards some summer meets. More fast times sure to come!
 

On the roads

SCTC “B” Centipede placed 8th at Bay to Breakers

While the spring has historically been reserved for track within SCTC, in 2018 the open men decided to try their hand in the PAUSATF road circuit. The year-long Grand Prix is but halfway through, however it is off to a promising start. The Open Men have locked down 2nd place team finishes at the SACTOWN Run 10 mile and Devil Mountain Run Mile of Truth; 3rd place finishes at the NorCal John Frank Memorial 10 mile and Stow Lake Stampede; and 4th place finishes at the Super Sunday Run 10k and Reach for a Star 5k. The Open Women also scored their first ever roads team, debuting with a strong 2nd place finish at the SACTOWN Run 10 mile.
 
Outside of the PAUSATF, some seriously impressive road performances took place. Kicking things off, Jonathan Briskman won San Francisco’s Hot Chocolate 15k, setting a club record in the process. In the Boston Marathon in treacherous conditions, John Hill won the Senior Men’s division, also setting a club record. Meanwhile, guest member Jen Bayliss won three (!) USATF Masters National Championships, the cross country title in Tallahassee in January, the 10k road title at the James Joyce Ramble, and the 25k road title at the River Bank Run.

SCTC “A” Centipede placed 3rd at Bay to Breakers

The season’s final hurrah went down in late May at Bay to Breakers. For the first time, Strawberry Canyon fielded two full centipede teams (which involves attaching 13 people together to complete the 12k course as a single unit). Now a club favorite tradition, the two squads finished 3rd and 8th in the competitive centipede division, competing against several other PAUSATF rivals.

Happy Berries after Bay to Breakers

The road season will continue all summer long, with the Across the Bay 12k, Los Gatos One Mile Bang, Morgan Hill Freedom Fest 5k, and of course, Wharf to Wharf, coming up in June and July. Others will take a well deserved break after a long and rewarding spring season. But then it’s back to work, and training will begin for others for SCTC’s marquee season, cross country. We’ll be practicing throughout the summer and hitting the trails around the Bay Area and beyond for some destination long runs. See you out there!
 

11/19 – Berries Wrap-Up Pacific Association XC Season

On a cool November Sunday morning in Lindley Meadow, as the call for Strawberries to assemble echoed through Lindley Meadow, the Strawberry Canyon Track Club prepared to toe the line and conclude another successful cross country season at the PAUSATF Championships in Golden Gate Park.

Months earlier, the Senior’s (50+) Men opened the season up at the UC Santa Cruz XC Open on August 19th. Tom LeGan, still a month before running his awe-inspiring mile, won the Senior’s division with John Hill close behind in third, and Bill Brusher rounding out the team.

Kevin Petow at the Phil Widner Empire Open in August

A couple weeks later, the Open Women’s and Men’s teams joined the Senior’s team at the Phil Widener Empire Open in Santa Rosa. In the first race of the day, the women put a strong team together, finishing second as team behind a 3-4 finish from Julia Sizek and Megan Gentes. The Senior’s Men followed, scoring fourth place as a team. The Open Men also finished second, exhibiting their depth behind top 10 performances from Kevin Petow and Jonathan Briskman.

More Berries made their season debut in mid-September to test out a variation of the traditional championship course at the Golden Gate Park Open in San Francisco. The Open Women edged out the Aggies to take second place, with Tamma Carleton finishing in the top 10 individually. The Super Senior’s (60+) men scored their first race of the season, finishing fifth. The Open Men finished third as a team, with Ben Harper cracking the top 10.

Bill Brusher at the Phil Widener Empire Open in August

After sitting out the Rebels XC Open, the Berries returned to action at Hayward’s Garin Park XC Challenge in late September. The Open Men started off the action, narrowly finishing third with Ryan Smith leading the way with a sixth place finish. The Senior’s Men started to round into form, placing second with Rob Elia, John Hill, and Jeff Mann each finishing top 10 in the division. The Open Women also took third as a team, with Megan Gentes placing seventh individually.

In the highlight meet of the season, the early October Willow Hills XC Open in Folsom, saw team victories from the Open Women and Men. In the women’s race, Megan Gentes, Regina Scarpin, Elizabeth Ordeman, and Molly Schassberger all finished in the top 10, while Vanessa Lordi finished eighth in the Women’s Master’s division. The Senior’s Men again finished second, with John Hill, Jeff Mann, Tim Keenan, and Bill Reed finishing in the top 10 in the division. In the Open Men’s race, Ryan Smith took the win individually, and was followed closely by Kyle Dunn, Kevin Petow, and Harmen Hoek, each placing in the top 10. The Open Men also scored a “B” team, which took third as a team.

Tamma Carleton (right) in the lead pack at PAUSATF XC Championships

At the Aggies XC Open in Martinez, the Senior’s Men shined, winning their race as a team behind top 10 division runs from John Hill, Jeff Man, and Bill Reed. For the Open Men, Ryan Smith cracked the top 10 in the Aggie dominated race, pulling the Berries to a third place finish. The Open Women did not field a team, but Megan Gentes finished fifth overall individually.

In the final tune-up before championships at the John Lawson Tamalpa Challenge in San Rafael, the Open Women and Men both finished second as a team, with Tamma Carleton and Megan Gentes finishing the in the top 10 for the women, and Ben Harper and Ryan Smith in the top 10 for the men.

Open Women at the PAUSATF XC Championships

At the Association Championships, the Strawberries brought their A-game to take on  highly competitive and elite fields. In the Open Women’s race, Tamma Carleton led the way, finishing 11th overall. Megan Gentes, Regina Scarpin, Elizabeth Ordeman, and Sylvia Jebiwott (just 2 weeks after a strong run at the New York City Marathon), rounded off the scoring team with a fifth place team finish. In the Senior’s race, Rob Elia paced teammates John Hill, Tim Keenan, Carl Rose, and Bill Brusher, finishing third as a team. The Master’s (40+) Men did not score a team, but saw George Torgun make his Master’s debut by finishing ninth overall in the race. For the Open Men, Ryan Smith’s 19th place finish led the Berries to fourth place team finish, with Kevin Petow, Jonathan Briskman, Ben Harper, and Kyle Dunn making up the rest of the scoring team.

Open Men at the PAUSATF XC Championships

The season of steady, consistent performances was rewarded in the end-of-season PAUSATF Grand Prix Standings. For the Open Women, Megan Gentes (4th), Elizabeth Ordeman (10th), Regina Scarpin (12th), Tamma Carleton (16th), Megan Lang (20th) and Kim Sanchez (24th) all finished in the top 30 in the final standings, finishing second as a team on the year. The Senior’s Men finished tied for third, with John Hill (6th), Tim Keenan (18th), Jeff Mann (19th) and Rob Elia (23rd) achieving top 30 finishes. Additionally, Scott Strait (Super Seniors, 29th) finished in the top 30 in his division. Finally, the Open Men wrapped up at tied for second in the team standings with top 30 standings from Ryan Smith (3rd), Ben Harper (5th), Kevin Petow (6th), Jonathan Briskman (12th), Kyle Dunn (14th), Matt Weber (28th), and Kyle Bystrom (30th) over the course of the PAUSATF XC season.

A handful of Berries will make the trip Lexington, Kentucky for the USATF Club Cross Country Championships on December 9th, before attention turns towards the track and roads in 2018.

11/22 – Open Women and Masters Men Claim XC Grand Prix Titles; Strawberries Ready for Nationals

For the second straight year, the Lady Berries stand atop the Pacific Association Cross Country Grand Prix standings.

After claiming their first ever Grand Prix Championship in 2014, Strawberry Canyon’s Open Women returned to Berkeley in August ready for another big year. The Berries’ historic season began with a win at the Phil Widener Empire Open in Santa Rosa. They then went on to take first place four more times, ultimately securing the Grand Prix title with a second place finish the PA Cross Country Championships.

In the Grand Prix individual, season-long standings, the women placed an association-leading five women in the top 10. Co-captains Julia Sizek (who established an astounding three course records during the season) and Tamma Carleton went 1-2, with Megan Gentes close behind in 4th. Megan Lang, Jen Schick, and Olivia Hill were 7th, 10th, and 18th, respectively, giving the Berries six in the top 20.

Open Women take first place at the Garin Park XC Challenge in September. Photo by Kim Sanchez.

But the Open Women’s victory wasn’t the only Berry Grand Prix title in 2015. The 50+ men, who fielded a team at nearly every race this season, had a resurgent year. With four first place regular season team wins and a second place finish as the PA Cross Country Championships, the Master’s Men can expect a big finish at Nationals in San Francisco.

Individually, Tim Keenan locked in a 5th place finish overall in the Grand Prix standings. Rob Elia (14th), Dan Sivolella (18th), Richard Sloan (22nd), and Coach Carl Rose (28th) gave the Master’s Men five runners in the top 30 in the popular division.

The Masters Men at the start of the 2015 PA XC Championships. Photo by Eric Gullikson.

The Open Men earned their third straight top three Grand Prix finish, after finishing with a win at Willow Hills and a pair of second place finishes throughout the regular season. A banged up squad at Regionals pulled in a 5th place finish in a stacked race.

Rising stars, Ryan Smith (3rd) and frosh Geoff Leonhardt (4th) both secured impressive top five finishes in the Grand Prix standings. Alex Battaglino, despite missing Regionals with injury, finished 15th in the standings, and captain Sean McFarland, after suffering a gruesome off-season injury, rallied amazingly, and finished off in the top 30 for the season.

Open Men Alex Battaglino and Geoff Leonhardt at the Aggies Open in October. Photo by Jack Wallace.

But the Berries’ season is not over just yet. The Pacific Association has the honor of hosting the USATF Club Cross Country National Championships for 2015. On December 12th, roughly 2,000 runners will descend upon San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and the Berries will be running a strong contingent. This is a can’t miss race – so whether you’re running or spectating, join the Canyon in the final race of a historic 2015 cross country season!

Don't miss the final unfurling at Club Nationals, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, December 12th, 2015.

Don’t miss the final unfurling at Club Nationals in Golden Gate Park, Saturday, December 12th.

3/5 – Hot day in Redding for Masters & Kate

Six hardy folks ventured up to Redding and were rudely surprised by the unmitigated warmth of an unseasonably balmy morning. It was ideal for lounging around, BBQs, an easy jog, and tossing a frisbee around, not so much for an all-out long race.

Knowing we were in trouble with a 10 a.m. start and feeling perfectly comfortable without warm-ups, most of us still managed to go out too hard and melted down during the course of the race. Everyone felt like they were a good three or four minutes off of their projected times in what was deemed “by far the hottest Redding 10-mile race ever,” according to Chikara Omine of Excelsior. No argument here as it seemed to be pushing into the upper 80s at rest stops on the return drive home. Even the winner was ‘only’ 52 minutes and change which may be the slowest winning time on record.

Five oldsters from all parts comprised a ‘masters’ team, and Kate Ashley had the best race of the group, nailing a PR in rough conditions with a 1:12.50 despite not feeling all that great throughout. She’ll be ready to roll at Boston in six weeks.

Chafik Azerki made the trip from Mammoth and finished in 1:00.41, about three+ minutes off of where he was last year. Next across was Brian Gunn, who was hoping to break 65 and ran 1:08.27. When he called his 11-year-old son to update him on the race, Dylan, who is evidently not one to beat around the bush, quipped “What happened??”

Alan Dehlinger made the venture from Reno and finish four minutes off of his 65:00 goal with a 1:09.10. He was followed by new/former Pacific Strider senior Kevin Brunson in 1:09.36 – and they made the drive from Reno. Coach Carl was most definitely the caboose today as he started cramping up in his right calf for the last 2-3 miles and slowed down considerably. His last fond memory of the race was looking out across the river on the way back in and thinking to himself in all seriousness, “I could just swim over to the other side, drift down stream a couple of miles, and climb out at the finish.”

It was tempting but we needed five broken bodies across the line to finish, not four, so we did just that. It was a strangely warm day and I think we all learned the lesson about not going out too hard here. Sometimes it takes a little humble pie to reinforce these basic concepts.

So the team still manage to take 3rd overall and Kate actually did well, despite some rough patches in the race.

11/16 – Women Grab PA XC Season Title, Men 2nd!

A golden dawn sky was belied with a pesky, cold breeze that swept through Golden Gate Park preceding the morning start of the long-awaited PA-USATF Cross Country Championships. The Strawberry Canyon TC women’s team, now squarely on the radar, warmed up nervously and vigorously as mostly the men (who raced later) set up the tent. This was a “take no prisoners” kind of day.

A little back story is in order: This particular group of women constituted the most inspiring regional team of the decade. They went from zero to regional / national-class in a matter of months, putting together what had to be classified as a “dream season.” In the summer they were a no-name, small group with 500-to-1 odds to win the Pacific Association-USATF team grand prix cross country championships. This would be the talk of fools and delusional coaches. However, in a few short months, they became a very tightly knit, focused and well-respected team locking horns with the best clubs in the region for a fighting chance to claim our club’s first ever women’s title.

The race started with butterflies, as the Canyoneras had been battling since August. This effort had left them tied with the West Valley Track Club, and beating them was necessary to win the Grand Prix. But we wanted to do more. The mighty Impala Racing Team was within striking distance and they brought several 2012 Olympic Trials marathon qualifers to the starting line to try and grab that title from us and defend their eight-year grand prix winning streak, and the No. 18-ranked (2013) ASICs Aggies who’d improved a bit in 2014, and No. 8-ranked New Balance Silicon Valley (2015 – and without their No. 1 runner at Club Nationals) squads also brought their hammers to this championship race. The Strawberry Canyon women’s team had one more test, and they were going to have to punch way above their weight yet again to pass it.

But this had all started in June. At this point, too much work had been invested and our women were on a mission. They had one chance to make history, to claim their destiny, a chance to upend the regional hierarchy, and make it that much sweeter as an underdog, unsponsored club…all of this was at stake and more. So here was the moment, they had to line up and see where things stood. Coach Carl gave them a little pre-race encouragement at the start, but there wasn’t really much else to do than to let things unfold and trust that they had been sufficiently prepared for this massive test. And so with that…off they went.

The women went out prudently, according to plan. As their race unfolded, it was a thing of beauty as they all ran pretty evenly and shredded the field in a tight 50-second pack between the No. 1 and 6 runners. (I heard a few shocked exclamations among the spectators). This was no accident – it was a perfect storm. We didn’t just edge WVTC for the title, we also beat the Aggies, Impalas, and West Valley TC in that order, and grabbed the title in the way it should be won, head to head when it counted.

Everyone stepped up in their own way. Julia Sizek came on to the scene and started hammering people. This was no different as she blitzed through a very strong field and took 12 th. Second for the Berries scoring was Olivia Hill, who got better and better and better in every race and beat people she hadn’t ever beaten before at the championships – finishing with a strong kick. Tamma Carleton raced with painful tendonitis in her foot and we weren’t even sure if she was going to start. She gutted it out like a champion and ran an extremely gritty and courageous effort for 18th. Next there was the middle-distance specialist Rebecka Oberg (20 th), who was racing at a distance that was completely out of her comfort zone – finishing with a flash ahead of a couple of very strong runners, there was the team leader and women’s captain – our women’s team’s glue, Megan Lang (26 th), who also threw down a very impressive race. There was the ever dependable Megan Gentes (27 th), who never met a starting line she didn’t like and rounded out a very dangerous six-woman pack with another strong race performance. Next was the youngest was 17-year-old Jennifer Schick, who has a massive upside to develop. And the most improved of the bunch might be our club’s vice-president Kimberly Sanchez, who wrapped up the racing for the women.

When the dust had settled and the preliminary scores were posted – other team were genuinely stunned; some seemed upset, others were congratulatory and delighted for us. Our ecstatic SCTC women had pulled off the David vs. Goliath miracle finish – winning the grand prix title in a rather moving performance, and took second only to the elite development-based NBSV club. The rest of our club was glowing for them too –they knew that they had seen something special and this was a very proud moment for everyone in the club. To close – I quote Bill Brusher: “That has to be one of the coolest things that’s ever happened in the history of the club.” Yer damn right! 🙂

Their times and a video link to their historic finish is linked below:

Women’s 6K race

12. Julia Sizek – 21:30

14. Olivia Hill – 21:40

18. Tamma Carleton – 21:49

20. Rebecka Oberg – 21:55

26. Megan Lang – 22:15

27. Megan Gentes – 22:20

42. Jennifer Sc hick – 22:58

57. Kimberly Sanchez – 23:34

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp_75dB2FcA

The masters and seniors-plus men dusted off a few hearty graybeards and put together a solid group of oldsters. Many were pleased both with their performance as well as the new 10K course, which will also be the site of the USATF Club National Cross Country Championships in 2015.

Rob Elia and Darrin Banks killed it, taking the first two spots. Tim Keenan had an excellent race and exorcised his ‘jinx’ races at Golden Gate Park – he too, loved the new course. Chris Dodge was next, and the quarter- and half-miler by trade ran an impressive effort. A legend in the making is Keith Duncan, who at 60 is shellacking our club records. He was 4 th senior overall. Next was the smiling patron saint of the club, Sir Erik Gullikson, who seemed to be only moderately pressed and content to soak up the moment. Coach Carl Rose continued his coming back ways (with a ways to go) came through with a good effort relative to his fitness and had his best race of the season. Paul Nolan missed the start (everyone has that ONE “bad dream” race), and throwing in the towel, ended up running a tempo of the course, tangled behind the slower runners. Bill Brusher debated running but still finished since he already had the grand prix points in his sights.

Both the masters men and seniors were 4 th overall, which was a pretty solid result considering we were missing a few of our hitters.

Master’s Men’s 10K race

20. Rob Elia – 36:21 (5 th 50-59)

21. Darrin Banks – 36:23

28. Tim Keenan – 36:50 (8 th 50-59)

47. Chris Dodge – 38:18

68. Keith Duncan – 40:34 (4th th 60-69)

79. Erik Gullikson – 41:17

82. Carl Rose – 41:39

119. Paul Nolan – 45:18 (missed start)

166. Bill Brusher – 55:51

The open men weren’t as fortunate as the open women, as the ASICs Aggies added lots of depth and decided to show up to enough races to accumulate the maximum five wins going into the championships. Jonathan McKinley was not where he was at last year, which was putting the fear of God in everyone in the PA, after a long stretch with injuries, but we were still in the hunt for a valiant second-place team finish. Most of the guys ran well and were feeling the effects of a very long race season, particularly the younger runners. So we were a little outmanned up front, but still packed up pretty well. Their efforts locked us solidly into 4 th-place team finish at the PA XC champs but this was still sufficient to keep our club in second. Despite that we’re primarily running with undergrads that never ran in college and a few graduate students from small-college programs, they still held their own against the heavyweight clubs.

Here below are their finishes in order.

Open Men’s 10K race

18. Jonathan McKinley – 31:54

31. Sean McFarland – 32:50

42. Ryan Smith – 33:21

46. Lauri Takacsi-Nagy – 33:29

52. Ryan Lok – 33:48

61. Colin Gannon – 34:18

62. Stephen McKinley – 34:23

64. Rory Runser – 34:40

69. Jack Wallace – 34:47

71. Brandon Kan – 34:50

73. Ed Izaguirre – 34:51

76. Dan Duett – 35:00

79. Justin Huang – 35:07

89. Bentley Regehr – 35:35

110. Stephen Granger-Bevan – 37:72

115. Matthew Berberick – 38:29

123. Kevin Hsu – 39:13

11/2 – Berries @ Santa Rosa XC – Women take close WIN

The Phil Widener Empire Runners XC meet in Santa Rosa was shuffled to the end of the year but that did not deter the Canyoneros from showing up and giving it a good shot on the challenging 3.43-mile course.

The women brought only five runners to the line and needed a really good race performance to stay in range of the West Valley Track Club, which had at the time a 1.5-point lead on our women’s team. The season’s dramatic build-up to the PA-USATF Cross Country Championships was coming to a head as the Canyoneras needed to nail down a “W” with a couple of their runners sitting this one out.

Tamma Carleton delivered a really strong effort despite dealing with some tendonitis in her foot, finishing in a prodigious 5th-place in a speedy 20:19. In 6th was the ever-impressive Olivia Hill who rolled through in 20:28. Following those two heavy hitters was Megan Gentes in 21:34 (13th-place), as she was starting to show a little fatigue from the long season. Megan was trailed by Jennifer Schick in 16th-place (21:44). Closing out the scoring team was Kimberly Sanchez, who knocked about two minutes off of her 2013 time in 22:18 (22nd place). That proved to be crucial as the final scoring came in four agonizing days later, confirming that the Berries had finished one point ahead of the Impalas. They opted for the masters money and hence the Berries beat West Valley and ended up in a tie with them going into the PA-USATF Championships in two weeks.

The open men managed third overall in this race as the Aggies and West Valley both brought some serious firepower. Jonathan McKinley was 7th (17:33), and he was followed by Sean McFarland (17:51 – 9th); Ryan Smith (17:51 – 10th); Ed Izaguirre (18:23 – 16th) and Jack Wallace (21st – 18:36) to round out the top five scorers. Also competing for the Berries was Bentley Regehr, a newcomer from Edmonton, in 18:42 (23rd), Colin Gannon – 18:43 (24th), Justin Huang 18:47 (26th), Stephen McKinley 18:54 (27th), Matt Weber 19:30 (32nd), and Daniel Anderson 21:05 (42nd).

10/25 – Berries roll at Aggies XC Open

After a week off from racing, the Canyon brought solid squads to the ASICs Aggies 4.2-mile XC Open held in Martinez, CA, and they needed to because the fields were stacked with lots of talent to contend with. The open men were paced by Jonathan McKinley, who took 8th in 21:11. Next across was Ryan Smith, who turned in a great performance in 21:43. Sean McFarland was a bit behind Ryan, followed by Ed Izaguirre, Colin Gannon, Jack Wallace, Rory Runser, Stephen Granger-Bevan, Justin Huang, Matt Weber and Dan Anderson. The open men took second to a loaded Aggies squad which brought the pain to their home race, and squeaked out a narrow one-point win over New Balance Silicon Valley TC. (Results are below).

Two elder statesmen aka seniors runners jumped into the masters race – Eric Gullikson (26:55) and Paul Nolan (27:07), both of whom turned in very strong efforts.

The women’s race was notable in that the Aggies fielded their full squad which topped the Berries women, but we were also able to edge West Valley TC,, hence allowing our women to stay within striking distance and maintain our close second-place team position in the Pacific Association USATF Grand Prix standings.

Julia Sizek sizzled (had to say it once) across the line in the 4.2-mile race with a very impressive time of 24:31 (6th place). Olivia Hill had a breakthrough performance and took 10th in 24:46. Tamma Carleton, Megan Gentes and Megan Lang followed to round out the scoring. Shout out of the day went to 17-year-old Jennifer Schick who finally shook off her month-long illness and rolled through in 25:28 (18th place). Kimberly Sanchez rounded things out for the Berries. (Results below).

Open Men (4.2 miles)

8. Jonathan McKinley 21:11
16. Ryan Smith 21:43 (1st 1-19)
17. Sean McFarland 22:01
20. Ed Izaguirre 22:16
26. Colin Gannon 22:43
28. Jack Wallace 22:47
31. Rory Runser 22:53
32. Stephen Granger-Bevan 22:55
33. Justin Huang 23:02
40. Matt Weber 23:42
54. Daniel Anderson 25:35

Masters/Seniors Men (4.2 miles)

Eric Gullikson 26:55
Paul Nolan 27:07

Open Women (4.2 miles)

6. Julia Sizek 24:31
10. Olivia Hill 24:46
11. Tamma Carleton 24:49
16. Megan Gentes 25:24 (1st 1-19)
17. Megan Lang 25:25
18. Jennifer Schick 25:38 (2nd 1-19)
35. Kimberly Sanchez 26:42

10/12 – Bring on the Johnny (Lawson XC)

This 4.25-mile race features one of the most scenic courses in the Pacific Association as it is held on the undulating single track trails at China Camp. This race was created in honor of John Lawson, a well-known and talented masters runner for Tamalpa who passed away roughly a decade ago. Of note, his uber-talented son, John Lawson Jr., competes for Cal and nearly broke 14:00 at Stanford’s Payton Jordan meet last spring. In addition to the great course, the Tamalpa Runners also provide beer and a free, artfully designed beer mug, thus ensuring the longevity of this race for years to come.

In addition to a few seniors runner strays, the Canyon brought full men’s and women’s teams to the Johnny and the men dominated while the women had to settle for second-place team overall. First across the line for the women was Julia Sizek in her first race as a Berry. She was followed closely by Olivia Hill, Rebecka Oberg, Megan Lang and Megan Gentes. Kimberly Sanchez and Christine Bowlus also competed. (Individual results are below). The open women had to settle for second vs. a determined West Valley TC squad. But note their 46-second “pack time” between the 1-5 scorers, because that element played to their favor later in the season.

The masters men scraped together three able-bodied seniors and hornswoggled them to the starting line. They were led by an impressive effort by Paul Nolan. Eric Gullikson and Carl Rose (coach) were in tow. (results below)

The open men brought their “A” game and really cleaned up the field in a convincing team victory. Jonathan McKinley outkicked Mike Hiscott of West Valley to secure runner-up honors. He was followed by Sean McFarland, Ryan Smith (who won the 1-19 age group yet again), Ed Izaguirre and Brandon Kan (who took second in the 1-19 age group). Following the five scorers was Ryan Lok, Colin Gannon, a New Balance Central Park Track Club transplant competing in his debut race, Justin Huang, Stephen McKinley (yes Jonathan has an older brother so some of you can be concerned now) and Matt Weber.

Open Women (4.25 miles)

6. Julia Sizek 25:46
8. Olivia Hill 25:58
10. Rebecka Oberg 26:20
11. Megan Lang 26:23
13. Megan Gentes 26:32
20. Kimberly Sanchez 28:23
37. Christine Bowlus 28:54

Masters/Seniors Men

Paul Nolan 27:43
Eric Gullikson 28:12
Carl Rose 29:33

Open Men

2. Jonathan McKinley 21:40
4. Sean McFarland 22:14
5. Ryan Smith 22:43
8. Ed Izaguirre 23:05
9. Brandon Kan 23:06
12. Ryan Lok 23:27
15. Colin Gannon 23:55
19. Justin Huang 24:13
23. Stephen McKinley 24:28
24. Matt Weber 24:37

10/4 – Double Trouble – Berries sweet sweep at Presidio XC

The Strawberry Canyon Track Club reached a new and exciting milestone, as both the men’s and women’s teams swept their team races at the rather extreme and sandy Presidio XC course. Apparently the Presidio Army base has one of two objectives as they have now added numerous logs to the very sandy and long up- and downhill at the beginning and end of the race course. They either want to see how challenging they can make the course as it morphs into a mud-run or they want the cross country meet held somewhere else. To add injury to insult, the course was rerouted so runners had to descend the log-strewn sand dune, and its final distance was slightly lengthened from its standard “5K” established in 2010. Our best guess is it is 7-8 seconds per minute slow.

As has often been the case this season the men went first when the weather was favorable and the women were forced to simmer in the mid-morning warmth. The men brought it as the ASICs Aggies also showed up with a full team of accomplished runners, albeit not their very best group. Jonathan McKinley dropped his anchor into the race and gave the field something to think about with a 17:02 mark, good for 4th place. Ryan Smith was next for the Berries in 17:21 (6th). Sean McFarland was a little off his game, but rolled through in 17:22 (7th). Ed Izaguirre came through in 17:27 (11th) and Brandon Kan closed out the scoring in 17:31 (12th). That 29-second spread represented a very nasty pack time which would ultimately deliver the Berries the men’s title in a close race with the Aggies.

Ryan Lok (18:08), Alex Battaglino (18:13), Justin Huang (18:19), Stephen Granger-Bevan (18:25), and Matt Weber (19:08) also got into the mix for the Canyoneros.

Coach Carl (23:16), a seniors runner, and Bill Brusher (27:52), a super-senior, jumped into the masters race for a go. Neither was particularly happy with their race.

Next up was the women’s race and the big questions were, would the hill training in Berkeley translate to a solid performance on the hardest course in the Pacific Association? Would the women be able to win their first team title in club history? And by default would the club have its first double-team men’s and women’s victory in club history? A banner day was within reach as nine hardy women toed the line against the formidable West Valley Track Club.

First across the line for the Berries was Tamma Carleton whose 19:58 4th-place finish represented an excellent performance. She was followed by 800/1500-meter runner Rebecka Oberg who’s been recruited into cross country for the first time since grade school. She was 5th in 20:23. Olivia Hill took 7th in 20:33. Booking in behind Olivia was Megan Lang (21:16 – 15th) and Megan Gentes (21:27 – 16th) to round out the scoring five for the Canyoneras. Following the Megans was Kimberly Sanchez (22:17), Kate Ashley (22:57), Shellin Chuong (23:40), and Jennifer Schick (23:52).

After careful examination of the results which were printed out, it began to dawn on the team that the women had indeed WON this race. A ripple of energy became a great joy as all team members shared in the women’s celebration. It was official – they had notched their first-ever team victory! And by association, this was also the first time the club had ever won team titles in the men’s and women’s open races. Needless to say it was a very satisfying day for the club. Congratulations to everyone!

9/27 – Willow Hills Open XC 5K, Men win!

The open men went up to scenic Willow Hills near Folsom and snagged a much-needed team victory to support their PA-USATF Grand Prix points totals, escaping with a close win over SRA Elite on a fairly rugged course. We did not send a full women’s team and one super-senior competed as well.

Here are the results.

Open women

4. Rebecka Oberg 19:22
14. Jennifer Schick 20:10 (2nd 1-19)
31. Shellin Chuong 21:14

Open Men

8. Sean McFarland 16:21
13. Ryan Smith 16:42
19. Stephen Granger-Bevan 17:04
23. Jack Wallace 17:21
33. Matt Weber 17:45
43. Dan Anderson 19:02

Masters men

Bill Brusher 26:22