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.┬áThe 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.

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