For decades, cross country powerhouses Redwood, Drake, Branson, Tamalpais and Marin Catholic have owned the podium each year at the Marin County Athletic League Championships. Relative MCAL newcomer Justin Siena has spent most of the last 16 years well outside that pantheon.
In 2013, the Justin-Siena girls finished ninth out of 10 teams at the league championships. But in 2014, they improved to fifth place. A year later, they moved up again to fourth.
In Wednesday’s MCAL Championships at Novato’s Indian Valley College, the Braves improved again, this time onto the podium to finish third overall. It’s the first top-three finish in Justin-Siena’s history in this elite distance running league.
In addition, Braves senior Dante de los Santos finished fourth overall among boys.
Top girls team honors went to perennially strong Redwood with 44 points. Tamalpais took second with 62, followed by Justin Siena with 93.
Braves co-captain Hannah Chau led the team and finished fifth overall in a time of 20 minutes 15 seconds over the hilly 5,000-meter course. In doing so, the junior earned First Team All-MCAL honors. Earning Second Team All-MCAL recognition were senior co-captain Ariel Kivela, by finishing 13th overall in 21:12, and sophomore Mia Vlaming, by finishing 20th in 21:37.
Rounding out the Braves’ top five were junior Melissa Corona (21st in 21:37) and senior Donna Roscoe (38th in 22:39). Justin Siena’s usual No. 3 runner, junior Juliette Nast, overcame injury to finish 49th overall in 23:18, and freshman Sophia Smith finished 50th in 23:19.
“I’m really happy,” said a smiling Chau. “After so many years where Justin was not considered much of an MCAL contender, it feels good to be a part of this turnaround and to help Justin Siena become one of the league’s top teams.”
Added Braves head coach Matt Wilkinson, “I’m happy for these girls. It’s also fun for me to be a part of their success. I got involved with the team in 2014, and they were all learning how to become runners back then. Now they really get it. The older runners are passing this along to the younger runners, too. This helps make a strong program. I’m looking forward to what they can do at the North Coast Section meet in 10 days. If they execute, they have a good shot at their goal of returning to the state championships.”
Also running for the Justin girls were freshman Lauren Aubert (23:25), seniors Ryann England (24:53) and Kayla deLeuze (24:54), freshman Natalie Schiefferly (24:55), senior Maeve Peace (25:12), sophomore Amanda Bueno-Kling (26:43.8), junior Cierra Ceccatti (27:03) and sophomore Emily Breneisen (27:35.1).
For the boys, de los Santos attained his season-long goal to finish in the top five at MCALs. His fourth-place finish in 16:47 in a very competitive field earned him First Team All-MCAL honors.
Also competing for the boys were junior Rahim Burdette (18:53), sophomore Deven Bose (19:16), freshman James Huber (19:18), seniors Charlie Rundquist (19:44) and Cameron Vaziri (20:11), freshman Max McAlister (20:38), junior Jarod Ricetti (20:41) and sophomores Brett Carey (24:03) and Sumir Hayer (27:35).
“The boys suffered from injuries throughout the season,” Wilkinson said. “Their goal at the start of the season was to finish in the middle at the MCAL standings. They fell 26 points short of this objective, about the difference of two runners having an off day, and ultimately finished ninth overall. The team looks to bounce back at NCS.”
The Braves travel to Hayward High School on Nov. 19 for the NCS Championships.
Napa’s Whorton wins Jackpot
With just one more Wednesday Night event remaining on the 2016 Sonoma Raceway schedule, entrants took advantage of great fall weather for another evening of quarter-mile drag racing under the lights.
Napa’s Mitch Whorton made a rare appearance that paid off for the retired Vallejo firefighter, as he picked up a class victory in the Jackpot division. Also in the winners circle was 40-year-old Joe Lannoo of Riverside, who marched to the win for his first Sonoma class win in the Comp Rod division. Other winners included Novato’s Doug Love (Motorcycle), Vacaville’s Ken Kalis (Sport Street), Richmond’s Chris Burton (Street), and San Francisco’s Vince Cardinale.
Next week’s season finale will feature a King of The Track runoff special event, which will include all six of the 2016 Wednesday night class champions. Vying for the special award will be San Jose’s Steve Jaslovsky (Gear Jammer), Santa Rosa’s Jorge Valencia Jr. (High School), Novato’s Bobby Grabrian (Street), Rodeo’s Doug McCay (Sport Street), Novato’s Doug Love (Motorcycle), Pacifica’s Brian Kam (Comp Rod) and Santa Rosa’s Tom Johnson (Jack Pot).
Here are Wednesday’s results:
Comp Rod winner: Joe Lannoo (Riverside), 2010 Cadillac, .038 RT, 11.571 ET (11.54 dial in), 116.98 mph. Runner-up: Joe Rossi (Napa), 1972 Nova, .173 RT 10.470 ET (10.45), 127.44 mph. Semifinals: Dale Sandberg (Concord), 1965 Nova.
Jackpot winner: Mitch Whorton (Napa), 1968 Camaro, .058 RT, 9.876 ET (9.75), 135.17 mph. Runner-up: Jeff Broussard (Novato), 1998 GMC, .060 RT 10.433 break out (10.44), 127.86 mph. Semifinals: Daniel Valencia (Santa Rosa), 2001 Chevy.
Motorcycle winner: Doug Love (Novato), 2001 Triumph, .098 RT, 13.038 ET (13.02), 100.44 mph. Runner-up: Bill Myers (Petaluma), 1989 Honda, .238 RT, 14.247 break out (14.35), 90.37 mph. Semifinals: Eric Oliver (Santa Rosa), 2005 Suzuki; Alfredo Escandon (Novato), 1996 Harley.
Sport Street winner: Ken Kalis (Vacaville), 1964 Valiant, .014 RT, 17.081 ET (17.19), 75.41 mph. Runner-up: Matt Brians (Petaluma), 2017 Camaro, .144 RT, 13.990 break out (14.10), 97.63 mph. Semifinals: Bill Taggart Jr. (Pacheco), 1997 Acura.
Gear Jammer winner: Vince Cardinale (San Francisco), 2013 Shelby Ford, .251 RT, 12.488 ET (11.89), 86.22 mph. Runner-up: Jorge Montoya (Pleasant Hill), 2003 Nissan, .647 RT, 15.790 ET (14.80), 92.58 mph. Semifinals: Emillio Garcia (East Palo Alto), 2001 Corvette.
Street winner: Chris Burton (Richmond), 2013 Challenger, .075 RT, 13.605 ET (13.65), 102.86 mph. Runner-up: Scott Sterley (San Rafael), 1971 Camaro foul -.010 RT 11.936 ET (11.90), 103.41 mph. Semifinals: Nick Bublitz (Cotati), 2001 Corvette.