By Rich Gonzalez
Boys: The seeded race is a high octane showdown that includes US#3 CA#1 Royal Simi Valley (Dylan Jaedtke), US#4 NW#1 Jesuit Portland OR, US#11 NW#2 Ferris WA, US#21 NW#5 Mead WA (Laef Barnes), CA#3 Don Lugo, CA#7 El Camino Oceanside (A. J. Acosta and Randy Pensinger), and NW#7 Central Catholic Portland OR. Other individual stars are Redwood CA sr Jake Schmitt and El Toro sr Brian Bethke, fastest runner at last week's super fast Woodbridge Invitational. SW#8 Reno NV will run in Div 2.
Girls: US#13 NW#2 Jesuit Portland OR takes on CA#4 Murrieta Valley (soph Liana Boucher) in the girls seeded race, while US#19 SW#4 Reno NV (2003 Foot Locker runnerup Marie "Mel" Lawrence) is running in Div 2.
DIVISION I BOYS
If you are looking for the finest collection of boys teams before the arrival of the highly anticipated Nike Team Nationals in December, you have found it right here in Palo Alto! No less than six nationally ranked squads will converge for this blockbuster Division I affair, including five ranked in the top dozen! NEVER has California played host to so much national-class team talent in a single high school race. Jesuit of Portland (OR), Ferris of Spokane (WA) and Royal of Simi Valley (CA) – the Nos. 3, 4, and 5 teams in the Harrier Magazine preseason poll, respectively, – are among the showcase teams, with Royal expected to welcome back a key returnee from injury this weekend in further fortifying its amazing depth.
State 4A runner-up Jesuit features preseason All-West Region selections Michael Maag and John Maletis, while defending state 4A champion Ferris welcomes back the triumvirate of Ben Poffenroth, Brendan Chestnut, and Peter Hawkins. Division I state runner-up Royal might be the race favorite, with senior leader Dylan Jaedtke, recently recovered junior star Jason Pedersen, and a superb sophomore class on display! Need more? How about 8th-ranked Don Lugo (Chino, CA) and 12th-ranked Central Catholic (Portland, OR) two of the most revered programs on the West Coast! Don Lugo has All-American candidate Fistum Tesfa at the forefront while Central Catholic answers with All-West Region picks Stephen Oliver, Kenny Klotz, and Luke Wiltshire. Murrieta Valley, ranked 23rd nationally, has Patrick Milloy and Michael Munoz leading its upset aspirations.
Individually, the Who’s Who cast above figures to be joined by Antelope Valley’s Jose Melena (11th at the 2003 Foot Locker West Regionals), El Camino’s duo of junior A.J. Acosta (4:12.31/1600m) and Randy Pensinger, national-class senior stud Brandon Bethke (4:09.53/9:02.15) of El Toro, senior Patrick Smyth (16th at 2003 Foot Locker West Regionals) of Judge Memorial (UT), senior Laef Barnes (4:09 miler) of powerhouse Mead (Spokane, WA), senior Jake Schmitt (4:15.2/9:12.83) of Redwood, senior Jesse Ramirez (4:14.35/1600m) of Santa Ana (4:14.35/1600m) and senior Brett Campfield (4:13.98c, 1600m) of Temecula Valley!
DIVISION I GIRLS
Murrieta Valley enters the post-Liza Pasciuto era, but it looks like the Nighthawks are not about to lose any steam! Liana Boucher leads a crew just off the fringe of the national rankings, with four seasoned veterans among the nucleus formed for its title chase in 2004. St. Mary’s of Portland, ranked 9th in the NTN Northwest Region preseason poll, has Anne Murphy-Hagan keying a returning trio of scorers from last year’s Oregon state 4A runners-up. Royal and Peninsula, two traditional Southern California powers, and upstart King of Riverside also should be among the leading teams. All-state selections Annaliese Chapa of Central Catholic (Portland, OR) and Lauren Saylor of Buchanan (Clovis, CA) figure to keep the pace honest up front.
DIVISION II BOYS
A very attractive matchup is featured here as Sac Joaquin Section superpower Jesuit of Carmichael is pitted against Central Coast Section megaforce North Monterey County of Castroville. Throw is regional gem Reno of Nevada and this race packs quite a punch! Jesuit boasts among the finest crews in the state for 2004, with senior Dillon Ramos and junior Jake Kelly-Strong heading a varsity cast that occasionally field as many as three sophomores for the famed Marauders program. NMC is paced by one of the Best in the West as senior Nathan Huerta paves the way for teammate Keli Parker and a motivated crew moving up in enrollment division this fall. Judge Memorial is headed up by senior Patrick Smyth, among the top returnees in the West Region. Santa Ana schools Foothill and Mater Dei along with Orange are other formidable lineups on tap. Up front, expect Smyth (16th at last year’s Foot Locker West Regional) and Huerta (32nd at Regionals) to vie for the win.
DIVISION II GIRLS
A titanic showdown of nationally ranked programs headlines here, with 13th-ranked Jesuit of Portland clashes with 19th-ranked Reno of Nevada. Reno, with sophomore Marie “Mel” Lawrence spearheading a deep attack, might actually show up the rankings pundits here thanks to a very deep crew. Jesuit, which rode the “pack attack” to an Oregon state crown a year ago, is rushing to rebuild its powerful program. College Park (paced in 2004 by Nicole Pennes), which constructed perhaps the greatest year of female prep distance-running performances within California in at least 20 years in 2003, is seeking to withstand a mild rash of injuries at season’s opening, with the very talented crew pointing yet again toward the November clashes! Buena’s Kimberly Donatelli the top returnee in California in Division II, Cypress’ Lauren Jirges and the Oregon tandem of Melissa Tranin (Aloha HS) and Samone Brackett (Sunset HS) figure to be chasing Lawrence for top honors.
DIVISION III BOYS
Maria Carrillo enjoyed a superb summer of training and enters as the sure favorite here, with the “Fab Four” junior class of Michael Brew, Diego Moulton, Ryan Aldridge and Logan Ensign joined by senior Alex Wolf-Root. The Pumas were landslide winners at the season-opening Rancho Cotate Invitational and will aim to head off Southern Section force Corona del Mar (Newport Beach) as well as Oakmont and Enterprise in the quest for team awards today. Maria Carrillo’s duo of Brew and Moulton are projected to battle Oakmont’s Erik Arreguey and Enterprise’s Eric Malain for race-title honors.
DIVISION III GIRLS
Although defending state champion Miramonte is heavily favored to win a second consecutive year-end crown, the leading contender should be identified here as 4 of the next 5 ranked teams are entered! Second-ranked Placer, with senior Kim Crouch headlining a very deep squad, and Anne St. Geme-led Corona del Mar (ranked #3 in the state) headline the field, with all-state gem Ciara Viehweg leading fourth-ranked St. Ignatius and Amy Robinson pacing sixth-ranked Maria Carrillo of Santa Rosa. All-Western U.S. candidate Lindsey Kirschmann of enterprise in Redding and Sir Francis Drake’s Katelyn Calvelli, the top freshman in Division IV at last year’s state meet (fifth in 18:49), should be among the leaders.
DIVISION IV BOYS
The top-ranked California squads in Division IV (2003 state champion Carmel) and Division V (2003 state runner-up Flintridge Prep) lock up here, as the latter squad elects to move up a division for this weekend perhaps in search of stronger competition. Carmel has senior ace Dylan Fitzpatrick and classmate Matt Dally leading its charge, with the Rebels countering with senior Tom McLean and Guz Zoell. Orange Lutheran, which tops the Southern Section preseason poll at this division, has vastly improved junior Eric Ricca heading its efforts, while Danny Nunes keys St. Bonaventure. Junior Tyler Rapp (Lakewood, WA) should battle those listed above, with Fitzpatrick lurking as the race favorite.
DIVISION IV GIRLS
A quartet of state-ranked squads decorate the entry list here, with Sac-Joaquin Section power Riverbank (third in the state poll), Southern Section title contender Laguna Beach (fourth), Central Coast Section juggernaut Carmel (seventh) and North Coast Section force Arcata (tenth) leading the field. Riverbank returns six from last year’s third-place team at state, including the fine tight-packing trio of Brittney Harrison, Georgina Arnold and Bianca Melchor. Laguna Beach has Katherine Gordon leading five returnees from its state-finalist squad, while sophomore Thea Lee paces Carmel. Arcata, beset with injuries just as last year’s championships approached, has junior Yasmine White leading everyone back from last year’s squad. The Lakewood (Spokane, WA) duo of Kristyne Westerman and Larson Agee join Anderson’s Julie Shaw, Riverbank’s trio, Laguna Beach’s Gordon and Carmel’s Lee among the talented individual entries here.
DIVISION V BOYS
University High of San Francisco, ranked fourth in California’s state Division V preseason poll, has a fine pack of returnees (David Lee, Robbie Hagbom, Sam Steyer and Bremner Morris) that who finished just a few ticks from each other at last year’s state finals, with the squad lurking as the favorite here. Individually, keep your eye on Mt. Shasta junior Austin Fritzke and Dublin Valley Christian sophomore Andrew Dixon, a pair figuring to wage battle for lead statewide bragging rights at this level for 2004. College Prep, Lick-Wilmerding, Tri-City Christian and Berean Christian are other squads entering that have enjoyed solid regional success within California in recent years.
DIVISION V GIRLS
University High of San Francisco has dominated the small-schools division in recent years, laying claim to an impressive five state crowns since 1996. All-state honorees Andrea Imhof and Grace Hunter lead a quintet of returnees from last year’s title-winning Uni squad, which enters 2004 atop the Division V statewide poll yet again. Fifth-ranked College Prep (led by junior Diana Trump) and 10th-ranked Lick-Wilmerding (headed by junior Charlotte Gjedsted) are additional powers in the entry mix. Individually, Castilleja junior Tori Amos (third at state in 2003) and sophomores Katie Fritzke of Mt. Shasta and Hagen Atkins of Durham join the aforementioned harriers as among the lead contenders in the race for individual honors.