FRESNO — Cold weather and rain greeted the cross country runners in Fresno Saturday for the CIF State Meet.
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The boys and girls varsity teams from Oak Ridge High, along with the girls team from Ponderosa and three individual qualifiers from the boys team who qualified at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet competed in the meet at Woodward Park.
The Trojan girls team placed 13th in the very competitive Division 1 race and the boys team placed 17th. The girls set the all-time fastest Oak Ridge team time with a 1:34.29 clocking. The average top-five time for the girls was a very fast 18 minutes, 54 seconds. The girls D-I race had 14 runners break 18 minutes, which is one of the fastest races in the 24 years of state meet competition.
The Oak Ridge boys’ team time was 1:22:04 which is the fastest all-time turned in by a Trojan team. The average top five time for the boys team was an impressive 16:25. The boys D-I race was also one of the fastest races in state meet history. Five D-I boys broke 15 minutes and 24 boys ran 15:30 or faster.
Showers occurred throughout the meet and steady rain fell during the boys D-1 race, adversely affecting some of the athletes. Unfortunately, some of the Oak Ridge athletes were feeling less than 100 percent on race day. Dusty Armstrong and Maxine Goyette had the most disappointing performances at the state meet. Both lacked energy and Armstrong had trouble breathing due to an illness he picked up two weeks ago.
“They typically contribute greatly to the team, so being the competitors that they are they will overcome their disappointments and come back strong next cross country season,” Oak Ridge coach Rob Fairley said.
Many of the Oak Ridge runners set personal bests on the 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) rolling hills course. The girls were led by senior Samantha Ralstin who placed 23rd in 18:18. Ralstin ran a fast last mile (5:33), passing several athletes and finishing her last 200 meters with a very strong kick. Her time is the second fastest all-time by an Oak Ridge athlete and was the 13th fastest time turned in by a senior in all the division races.
Freshman Reaghan Emrick took 44th with a time of 18:40, the fastest all-time for an Oak Ridge freshman on the Woodward Park course. In addition, Emerick was the seventh fastest freshmen in all the races.
The boys team was led by senior Benji Xie who ran a very solid race despite having some difficulties with the weather. Xie took 63rd and set his personal best on the course with a time of 15:57. Sophomore Brandon Williams was 97th with a time of 16:19, the ninth fastest time for a sophomore in the D-I race. He picked off several runners in his last mile, which he ran in 5:09.
“The state meet experience for the ninth and 10th graders is invaluable,” Fairley said. “Oak Ridge had one freshman girl and three sophomore boys (Williams, Marcos Conde, and Armstrong) who raced. All in all, it was an exciting state meet for the Trojans.”
The four senior boys (Xie, Clay McNamee, Jeroen Keukenkamp, Zach Speno) and the four senior girls (Ralstin, Jackie Mansoor, Brittney Putman, Kaileen Palmero) who competed at the state meet will be greatly missed next year. Some of the athletes will continue racing, participating in the Foot Locker West Regional meet Dec. 4, the California International Marathon Relay Dec. 5, and the Junior Olympics Cross Country Nationals Dec. 11.
The Ponderosa girls team took 19th, led by Brooke Ruppenthal who finished 40th in the Division II race with a time of 18;48. The team members include two freshmen, a junior and a sophomore. Junior Riley Ruppenthal was the top finisher among the boys, taking 19th in 15:40. The race was extremely fast, led by Loyola’s Elias Gedyon, who broke the 15-minute mark, taking first in 14:52.
State Meet results
Division I: 17-Oak Ridge, 398 points
Individual: 63-Benji Xie, 15:57; 97-Brandon Williams, 16.19; 100-Clay McNamee, 16:23; 101_Jeroen Keukenkamp, 16:23; 151-Marcos Conde, 17:02; 162-Zach Speno, 17:10; 181-Dusty Armstrong, 17:57.
Division II: 19-Riley Ruppenthal, 15:40; 72-Mitch Hawkins, 16:20; 79-Spencer Jones, 16:22.
Division I: 13-Oak Ridge, 253
Individual: 23-Samantha Ralstin, 18:18; 44-Reaghan Emerick, 18:40; 75-Jackie Mansoor, 19:00; 84-Brittany Putman, 19;06; 111-Holli Arrieta, 19:25; 119-Kaileen Palmero, 19:38; 178-Maxine Goyette, 21:33.
Division II: 19-Ponderosa, 440
Individual; 40-Brooke Ruppenthal, 18:48; 71-Melissa Copley, 19:20; 129-Ashley Silveira, 20:05; 133-Brittany Anselmo, 20;12; 169-Jenna Lambert, 21:10; 191-Brittany Burrows, 24:41; 192-Lauren Smith, 24:57.