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!