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!