Cross Country » Cross Country (2022)

Cross Country (2022)

Girl’s Finish 2022 Season 10th Best in California!

November 26th, 2022

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Clovis, CA – The girl’s varsity cross country team concluded their 2022 season with an impressive, gutty 10th place finish at the CIF State Championships on Saturday.  Known by the runners simply as “state”, the CIF Championships gather all the championship teams from around the state for a single race held on the famed Woodward Park course in Clovis (Fresno). 

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The Saint Mary’s girls, having won the North Coast Section Championship last Saturday, were one of the featured teams to race in the ultra fast – ultra competitive Division 4 race.  Leading the charge was fast-rising junior star Annika Punz, who placed 33rd overall in a 5k PR 18:59.  Sophomores Alexa Lawson and Jing Li-Chou both ran great races to place 2nd and 3rd for the team, while Leaih Goode and Milan Jackson completed the scoring for the Panthers.

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For the boy’s, their only entrant was senior sensation Matoe Malko-Allen, whose bid for a top 10 finish and an individual medal fell just short.  Still, Mateo’s 16th place finish in a Woodward Park PR 15:42 was solid and sent him away smiling. 

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Congratulations to the entire Panthers cross country team and coaches for an incredible 2022 season!

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Girls Run To Exciting NCS Championship!

November 19th, 2022

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Hayward, CA – Despite spending most of the year ranked amongst the state’s best teams as well as the top ranked team in the North Coast Section, the girl’s varsity cross country team found themselves in a dogfight at the NCS Meet of Champions on Saturday.  The upstart group from Archie Williams High School (San Anselmo) had upset on their minds and, after placing 3 runners in the top 6, were bidding for the upset.  However, this 2022 Panther group was having none of it.  Relying on their depth, talent and fierce determination.. the girls placed their 5 scoring runners in the top 14 and all 7 of their runners in the top 20 to capture their 1st NCS title since 2008. 

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“The girls really showed a lot of grit today,” said a smiling, jubilant coach Denis Mohun after the race.  “Archie Williams came out fast and aggressive but our girls never panicked or backed down.  From one through seven, they stayed composed and executed their race plans.  It was a great team win for us.  I’m proud of all of them.”

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Junior Annika Punz’s 3rd place finish was the highest individual finish for any Panther since Spencer Moore finished 2nd in 2013 and earned her both an individual medal and a spot on the All-NCS 1st team.  The race of the day, however, was turned in by senior Dylan Hedgspeth.  After “only” placing 5th  on the team and 7th  overall at the TCAL Finals, Dylan ran a massively spirited race… moving all the way up to #2 on the team and 9th overall amongst all runners in the entire section! Junior Milan Jackson ran her usual steady, tough, smart race in placing 1 spot behind Dylan, while senior Sofia Jackson – whose recent physical ailments seem to finally be behind her – was 12th overall in 19:27.  Sophomore Alexa Lawson (19:34), senior Leiah Goode (19:54) and sophomore Jing Li-Chou (20:05) completed the scoring for the Panthers.

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The girl’s win was their 4th in school history and their team time (1:36:17) was the 3rd fastest time that any Panther team has ever run on the Hayward course. 

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The boy’s race was equally competitive and very fast according to coach Jeff Rogers.  Despite a valiant effort, several lifetime best performances and an overall team time FASTER than the 3rd place qualifying team, the boy’s team fell just short of their bid to compete at the California State Championships next week.   

 

Senior Mateo Malko-Allen, running for the final time on the storied Hayward course, used his immense talent and tons of untiring moxie to place 3rd overall.  Running in the lead pack for most of the race, the vaunted Panther star had fallen back as far as 5th halfway through the race before rallying over the final 7 minutes to finish a mere single step from 2nd.  His time of 15:05 places him 3rd all-time in NCS Division 4 history and, for the second straight year, earns him All-NCS 1st team honors. 

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Kai Valle, like Dylan Hedgspeth, also ran a massively spirited race to place 2nd on the team and 19th overall in 16:07.  Kai’s time places him on Saint Mary’s all-time top 20 list for 3.0 mile races and remember: he’s just a sophomore!

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Another pair of sophomores, Luke Bradley and Javin Schmitt, also ran huge lifetime bests… finishing 3rd  and 4th on the team in 16:44 and 16:50 respectively.  Coach Rogers, in emphasizing the massive improvement that both Luke and Javin have made over the course of the year, pointed out that Luke was only 10th in the FROSH-SOPH League race a year ago while Javin didn’t even run cross country as a freshman.  Way to go Luke and Javin!

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Junior Collin Kopchik, sophomore Brandon Bosio, and senior Adrian Licea completed the team and the scoring… in that order… for the Panthers at NCS. 

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Up next for the Panthers are a trip to Woodward Park in Clovis for the State Championships on Saturday, November 26th.  The girl’s team will test their NCS Championship and state ranking against the best from Southern California while Mateo Malko-Allen will line up individually to test himself against the state’s best.  Good luck to the Panthers next weekend!

 

Runners Capture 3 Team & 3 Individual Championships @ TCAL Finals!

November 10th, 2022

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Richmond, CA – In the world of high school sports, the month of November signals the conclusion of fall sports and the impending end of yet another calendar year.  For cross country runners around the Golden State, November means “Championship Season” and features races that determine league, section and state championships for both teams and individuals.  On Thursday, the first of these trifecta of championships – the TCAL League Finals - were run at Point Pinole Regional Park where familiar surroundings and familiar trails produced familiar results for the Saint Mary’s Panthers: Championships!

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Stealing the show were the North Coast Section’s top ranked Panthers varsity girl’s squad.  Having won every league championship banner since the inception of the TCAL in 2013, the Panthers made quick work of the field in capturing their 9th straight league championship.  Junior Annika Punz continued her storied junior season with a scintillating run over the rolling 3.0 course, finishing 2nd overall while running the 3rd fastest time ever run by a Panther at Point Pinole (18:56).  Joining Annika on the all-league first team was fellow junior Milan Jackson (3rd place – 19:18), sophomore Alexa Lawson (4th – 19:19), and seniors Leiah Goode (6th – 19:28), and Dylan Hedgspeth (7th – 19:39).  Sophomore Jing Li-Chou also had a huge race, according to longtime coach Denis Mohun, finally breaking the 20:00 barrier.. finishing 8th overall in 19:50. The girl’s squad will enter the North Coast Section Championships next Saturday looking to improve on last year’s 2nd place finish.

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The boy’s squad, led by yet another school-record setting performance from senior Mateo Malko-Allen, fell short in their bid to grab a league championship… falling to the defending state champion Albany Cougars 21-36. 

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“I know we came up short against Albany, but for the most part our guys ran pretty well today,” said head coach Jeff Rogers afterwards.  “Mateo ran his PR on the course.. as did Collin, Kai and Luke.  What more can you ask for than to have your runners go out and run faster than they EVER have?  Our group feels good about how we performed today.”

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Indeed, Mateo’s time – 15:06 – is the fastest any Panther has ever run and one of the fastest times ever recorded at Point Pinole.  Teammate Collin Kopchik, having finally shaken a nasty cold, overcame a potentially damaging slow start and ran a great middle and last mile to finish 7th overall (16:32) which earned him 1st team all-league honors.  Sophomores Kai Valle and Luke Bradley also ran solid races, Kai finishing 8th (16:36) and Luke breaking the vaunted 17:00 minute mark in finishing 9th (16:55).  Both Kai and Luke… along with senior Adrian Licea (13th place) earned 2nd team all-league medals. 

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The frosh-soph and junior varsity races were dominated by the Panthers.  9 of the 14 junior varsity all-league selections were Panthers… including sophomore winner Lia Sullivan.  Running steady and confidently, Lia rolled through the winding 2 mile course in a PR 13:04.. which was :40 seconds better than the 2nd place finisher!  Madi Potter, Olivia Tarango, Aoife Shen, Sierra Maris and Charlotte Graham finished 3rd – 7th to join Lia as 1st team all-league selections… while Cally MacIntyre, Nicole Davis and Lilah Nemerson-Hoover all gutted their way to 2nd team honors. 

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For Coach Craig Sutphin’s JV group, there were two races contested: a freshman-sophomore race and a junior varsity race.  The frosh-soph race was a dominant victory for the Panthers as the squad scored a near perfect 15 points.. finishing with 17.  Sophomores Javin Schmitt and Jacob Demissie combined with freshman Shane Dougherty to sweep the top 3 spots.  Each runner also broke the 11:00 minute threshold on the course… something no junior varsity runner has done in nearly 10 years!  A pair of freshmen – Tucker Presnell and Adrian Hall – placed 5th and 6th overall to complete the scoring and the victory for the Panthers.  Freshman Keowyn Warner was also singled out by Coach Sutphin as having a great race.

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The JV boys – like the varsity boys – ran a valiant race against a stacked Albany squad.. only to come up short in their bid to claim the JV title.  Sophomore Brandon Bosio had the chase down run of the meet, over-taking the Albany runner in the final stretch run to post a PR 10:47 win.  Juniors Darragh Westover and Daniel McAndrew-Kvaerno… along with sophomores Gabe Cabral and Jagger Gullov-Singh also received praise from the coaches for their fine runs.

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Next up for the Panthers is the North Coast Section Championships at Hayward High School on Saturday, November 19th.  Teams that place in the top 3 at NCS qualify for the California State Championships on Saturday, November 26th in Clovis, CA.  Good luck to both Panther teams at NCS!

Seniors Honored @ TCAL Finale; Teams Finish League Season 47-1!

October 27th, 2022

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Richmond, CA – Over the past decade, one thing has remained constant in the Tri County Athletic League (TCAL) world of cross country: the Saint Mary’s Panthers are dominant!  After cruising to shutout wins against Hercules, Jesse Bethel, and SPSV… the varsity girls and both JV boys and girls finish their TCAL season 12-0.  The varsity boys also posted a trio of crushing wins to finish the season 11-1. 

  

Seniors Mateo Malko-Allen and Sofia Jackson and juniors Darragh Westover and Annika Punz were race winners and led a cavalcade of Panthers to big races and lifetime bests. 

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Ten of the first eleven runners in the JV Boys race were Panthers, including the first 7.  Freshmen Adrian Hall and Daniel Sankar.. along with sophomores Gabriel Cabral and Joaquin Tarango finished behind Darragh to lead the dominance. 

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Not to be outdone, the JV Girls posted the first TWELVE runners in their race… led by the rehabilitating duo of Sofia and Khaya Jackson.  Sophomores Lia Sullivan, Madi Potter and Aoife Shen provided plenty of back up… with Sierra Maris, Olivia Tarango and Charlotte Graham all  running under the 15:00 minute mark on the challenging 2.0 mile course.

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For the varsity, the girls only ran 6 runners who all managed to finish first – sixth.  The boys, meanwhile, placed the top 5 runners… 9 of the first 10… and 11 of the top 13 while flexing their depth and talent.  Junior Collin Kopchik, senior Adrian Licea and freshman Shane Dougherty all had very good races according to Coach Rogers.

 

5 Races; 3 Plaques; Lots of Medals & PR’s @ Mariner Invitational

October 15th, 2022

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Hayward, CA – Each year, the Mariner Invitational signals the end of the competitive invitational season around the North Coast Section.  The meet, now in it’s 37th year, attracts much of the top talent from around the section because it is run on the famed Hayward High School course.. home to the North Coast Section Championships later in November.  On Saturday, the Saint Mary’s Panthers fielded 5 different teams – 3 frosh/soph and 2 varsity – in hopes of testing themselves both on the 3.0 mile course and solidifying themselves as some of the best runners in the NCS.    

On the day, the Panthers recorded 7 top 10 finishes, 11 top 20 finishes, and a bevy of other medalists and lifetime bests.  The day’s fastest were senior Mateo Malko-Allen and sophomore Kai Valle… and juniors Annika Punz and Milan Jackson. 

 

Mateo came into the race as only the 3rd fastest Panther ever to run at Hayward, but left the meet as the new fastest Panther ever.  After positioning himself in the front pack, Mateo ran a steady race and held on down the homestretch to finish 5th overall in 14:53. 

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An emphatic fist pump and a hearty “Yes!” as he crossed the line told everyone how he felt about the race.  Juniors Collin Kopchik (16:46) and Charlie Higley (16:48) finished only :02 seconds from each other… both running PR’s on the Hayward course.  Seniors Adrian Licea and Jurgis Vass were next… followed by juniors Darragh Westover and Daniel McAndrew-Kvaerno in the varsity race that featured 282 runners!

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Sophomore Kai Valle continued to race his way onto the North Coast Section running scene, placing 3rd overall in the frosh/soph boys “A” race.  Mimicking Mateo, Kai surged to the lead pack from the beginning and battled his way to a huge PR (16:34) and to the bragging rights as the team’s top finisher.  Kai’s aggressiveness also inspired sophomore teammates Brandon Bosio and Luke Bradley to follow … as they finished 17th (17:11) and 18th (17:12) in the 245 runner field.  Jacob Demissie and Javin Schmitt also ran exceptionally huge races according to head coach Jeff Rogers. 

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Jacob, running in only the second 3 mile race of his life, earned a medal after running a full 2½ minute PR!  For Javin, the Mariner Invite was his inaugural 3 mile race, and his 17:26 – 24th place finish was quite exceptional.  Sophomores Gabe Cabral and Joaquin Tarango also had solid races in their first 3 mile race this season. Overall, the frosh/soph boys “A” team finished 2nd among the 32 teams entered. 

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Coach Craig Sutphin’s top freshmen boys were entered in the frosh/soph boys “B” race and they too did not disappoint.  Running 3 miles for the first time ever, both Shane Dougherty (17:41) and Tucker Presnell (17:45) blasted their way to top 5 finishes in the 187 runner race.  Ian Kopchik (22nd place) also earned a top 25 medal.

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For the girls, the frosh/soph team beat out 17 other teams.. including Lick-Wilmerding (San Francisco) by 1 POINT.. to win the overall team championship.  Jing Li-Chou and Alexa Lawson led the way… with Lia Sullivan and Madi Potter running PR’s and earning medals… but it was freshman Sierra Maris’ gutsy first time 3 mile race that cliched the victory for the Panthers, according to coach Ariana Corwin.

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Despite the frosh/soph girls dramatic victory, it was senior Annika Punz’s eye-opening run in the girl’s varsity race that had the coaches talking after the meet.  At this meet a year ago, Annika ran a very respectable 20:15.  On Saturday, she ran 18:07 while finishing 9th overall!  Her time, according to the coaches, is the 4th fastest time ever run at Hayward by a Saint Mary’s Panther.  Only a trio of state meet medalists have run faster.  Junior Milan Jackson also showed that she’s starting to round into form, posting a Hayward course PR at 18:41. Seniors Leaih Goode (19:47), Dylan Hedgspeth (19:58), Cally MacIntyre and Olivia Tarango completed the scoring for the North Coast Section’s top ranked team. 

Young Talent Shines @ TCAL League Meet #2
October 12th, 2022
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Richmond, CA - On Thursday, the Saint Mary's cross country teams hosted Albany, Pinole Valley and Salesian in the 2nd of 3 TCAL cluster meets at Point Pinole Regional Park in Richmond.  For the varsity, the meet was the 4th in the past two weeks but for many of the JV runners this was their first opportunity to run since September 29th... and their anticipation and excitement showed.  Both JV Boys and Girls teams managed to steal the headlines as both posted impressive, dominant wins.
Coach Craig Sutphin's JV Boys, the reigning TCAL Champions, are progressing and improving at "an incredible rate" according to head boys coach Jeff Rogers.  The JV boys ran to 5 of the top 6 places on Thursday... on their way to a resounding 25 point win.  Sophomore Brandon Bosio was the overall winner - covering the hilly 2.0 mile course in 11:15.  Senior Jurgis Vass was next in 11:22, followed by sophomore Jacob Demissie (11:30), freshman Shane Dougherty (11:32) and sophomore Javin Schmitt (11:32).  All five runners ran times equivalent to the past 7 JV league champions!  A pair of freshmen, Tucker Presnell (11:43) and Adrian Hall (12:12), also ran impressively fast for coach Sutphin's squad.
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Likewise, coach Ariana Corwin's JV girls squad... the 12 time defending TCAL league champions... also flexed their running muscles at Point PInole on Thursday.  Led by sophomore Lia Sullivan's :20 second win, the Panthers exceeded the JV boys performance by a single point.. winning by 26.  Sophomore Maddie Potter, on the verge of breaking into the varsity group, used her speed and talent to pull away from an Albany rival in the homestretch and place 2nd overall.  Freshman Sierra Mariswas not far behind in 14:32, with junior Maeve Urban the 4th runner in at 14:54.  A pair of seniors, Cally MacIntyre and Olivia Tarango were next, followed by freshman Charlotte Graham in 14:58.  
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"I was proud of our group," said coach Corwin when it was over.  "For a lot of our group, this was the first time they've raced on the Point Pinole course.  Give them a few more weeks and another race here and by the time the league championships come around their times will drop even more.  I'm excited to see what they can do."
 
The varsity girls team ran like the top ranked NCS group they are - under control and relatively unopposed.  The first 5 runners to cross the finish line were all Panthers and they all ran the same time (20:34).  After the race, several runners were heard saying it felt "easy" and "it didn't seem hard at all."  Both comments brought a satisfying smile to head coach Denis Mohun's face.  
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The varsity boys were the lone losing team on Thursday.  Running against the defending state division 4 champion and top NCS ranked Albany Cougars, the Panthers put up a valiant fight only to fall in the end.  Senior Mateo Malko-Allen ran 15:54 for a very respectable 3rd place finish... while junior Collin Kopchik ran a PR 17:05 on the Point Pinole course.  Sophomore Kai Valle and senior Adrian Licea also ran solid races according to coach Rogers. The Panthers hope to get back on track this Saturday at the Mariner Invitational at Hayward High School.  First race is at 9:00 am.
 
 
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Panthers Compete Against State's Best @ Clovis Invitational

October 8th, 2022

 

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Clovis, CA - On Saturday - despite spending most of the week battling injury, illness, and destruction - the Saint Mary’s Varsity Cross Country teams traveled to Woodward Park in Clovis for the 43rd annual Clovis Invitational. Each year, because it is run on the same course as the state championships, Clovis attracts most of the top talent from around the Golden State.  In fact, many see the meet as a sort of state meet “preview”.  This year, with the varsity girls race at 7:40 am followed shortly thereafter by the varsity boys, the Panthers would need all the focus and moxy they could muster to compete at Clovis.  When it was over,  the results were - according to the coaches - “mixed.”

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Running without 3 of their top 6 runners, the varsity girls would rely on not only their talent but their depth while finishing a very respectable 5th in the small schools race. Leading the way was fast-rising junior Annika Punz, who’s 6th place individual effort made her the top Panther placer of the day, regardless of gender.  Annika’s 19:22 was nearly a minute faster than she ran last year at Clovis and a hefty :30 PR on the Woodward Park course.

 

Following Annika was fellow junior Milan lsJackson, who finished 23rd overall in 20:20.  Senior Sofia Jackson, one of the Panthers battling illness this week, gutted out a respectable 20:57.  After Sofia, a trio of Panthers lined up for their first ever race at Woodward Park.  Sophomore Ji Ling-Chou, recorded a huge 5K PR and was the team’s 4th finisher in 20:59.  Senior Dylan Hedgspeth, who was not only brand new to the Woodward Park but to cross country running in general, was the fifth and final scorer for the Panthers, running 21:20. Sophomore Lia Sullivan was also impressive in her 5k debut, running 22:07. 


The Boy’s Varsity team finished 12th overall, which reflected how competitive the small schools varsity race was at Clovis. Half of the teams ahead of them came into the race ranked in the top 10 in California’s division 3, 4, or 5. 


Per usual, it was senior Mateo Malko-Allen who crossed the finish line first for the Panthers. Mateo, like Sofia and a few others, courageously ran through congestion and sniffles to finish 8th overall. His time of 15:48 makes him the 3rd fastest Panther ever on the Woodward Park course and was also a huge :20 second PR.

 

Next across the line was sophomore Kai Valle, who’s season continues to impress but not surprise his coaches and teammates. Coming into kvthe season, Kai was hoping to compete for the 1 of the 7 varsity racing spots.  After his 17:27 Clovis Invitational performance, not only is he solidly varsity but now has become a major factor in the Panthers championship season aspirations. Junior Charlie Higley, another of the ailing Panthers this week, was just a few steps behind Kai: finishing in 17:29. Neither Adrian Licea or junior Collin Kopchik were their usual selves as both struggled on the Woodward Park course. However, sophomore Luke Bradley followed his classmate Kai Valle for much of the race and finished in a very respectable 17:43. 


Overall, the Clovis Invitational served as a reminder to all the Panther runners and coaches that California is a big state with A LOT of runners who take it very seriously.  “We have to be at our best to run with the best in California,” said coach Denis Mohun after the meet.  “Today we felt what it was like to not be at full strength.  We’ll take the next few weeks to train hard and take care of our bodies.  Our groups have a chance to make some noise in the post-season and we want to make sure we’re ready.”


Next up for the Panthers is their 2nd TCAL cluster meet on Thursday at Point PInole against Albany, Pinole Valley, De Anza and Richmond High School. First race is at 4:00 pm.

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Mateo Malko-Allen Stars; Panthers Run Away With 3 Team Championships @ Artichoke Invitational

October 1st, 2022

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Half Moon Bay, CA – After competing at the mostly North Coast Section attended Ed Sias Invitational and the mostly Southern Section attended Woodbridge Invitational, the Panthers took both their varsity and frosh/soph teams to the largely Central Coast Section attended Artichoke Invitational… hosted by Half Moon Bay High School.  And, after a record-setting win by school record holder Mateo Malko-Allen and 3 overall team championships, what many in the North Coast Section already knew is now also known by many in the Central Coast Section: the Saint Mary’s Cross Country team is good!  Highlighting Saturday’s results were the NCS top ranked varsity girl’s squad as well Mateo. 

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Mateo, who seems to be using his spring track success to catapult himself to the upper-echelon of longer distance running, ran in a tightly contested group of three for much of the race.  However, using the aforementioned track speed he’s known for, he broke away in the later stages of the race to win by :13 seconds.  His 11:56 time, according to coach Ben Turman, is the fastest run at Artichoke by any athlete since 2017. Junior Collin Kopchik also ran a strong race according to coach Turman, moving up more than 20 spots in the last 1.3 miles to finish 10th overall.  Collin’s time was 12:48.  Senior Adrian Licea, junior Charlie Higley and senior Jurgis Vass placed 3rd through 5th for the 4th place finishers. 

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Despite running without two of their top five runners, the Panthers were still able to defeat the CCS’s top ranked Scotts Valley team at Artichoke.  A pair of junior’s - Milan Jackson and Annika Punz - were the team’s top two finishers…separated by a mere :02 seconds.  Senior co-captain Sofia Jackson was just a few steps back of Milan and Annika.  The trio finished the 2.33 mile, rolling hills course in 15:04, 15:06, and 15:09.  Senior Leiah Goode claimed an individual medal with her 4th place team finish, while Dylan Hedgspeth did just enough in the all-important 5th place spot to secure the two point team win.  Seniors Cally MacIntyre and Olivia Tarango also ran strong races according to grinning head coach Denis Mohun.

 

While the varsity girls win was certainly impressive, the frosh-soph girls win was overwhelmingly dominant.  Sophomores Alexa Lawson (3rd overall), Jing Li-Chou (8th), Lia Sullivan (15th), Madi Potter (18th), and Aoife Shen (22nd) combined to post an incredible 78 point win against second place Scotts Valley (Santa Cruz). 

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“The frosh-soph girls ran really good races today,” said coach Mohun.  “Alexa was the catalyst, battling up front the entire race.  I think the other girls fed off of her energy.  Jing was super competitive in that top 10 group, and Lia hung in there very well.”

 

Still, according to JV coach Ariana Corwin, it was the determination of up-and-coming sophomore Maddie Potter that seemed to ignite the team.  “Maddie’s drive in the second half of the race was so incredible,” said coach Corwin.  “She started out mid-pack at best and then really started to move up.  She covered so much ground going up that huge hill.  She was awesome.”  Freshman Sierra Maris and sophomore Katherine Scannell rounded out the victorious seven.

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Before the girls races, the frosh-soph boys seem to set the tone of the day for the Panthers.  Like the girls, the sophomore boys led the way.  Kai Valle, who coach Rogers calls a “rising star”, fought his way to hard earned 3rd place individual medal.  His time – 13:18 – was the 3rd fastest of any of the Saint Mary’s boys (Varsity or Frosh/Soph) on Saturday.  Not far behind was Luke Bradley – whose 10th place finish also put a medal around his neck.  Brandon Bosio (13:51), Javin Schmitt (14:12), and Jacob Demissie (14:16) completed the scoring for a Panther team that doubled the score of runner-up Archie Williams (San Anselmo).  Gabriel Cabral (14:54 – 35th place) and Joaquin Tarango (15:13 – 45th) were also part of the big Panther win.

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Next up for the Panthers is a varsity only meet this Saturday at the Clovis Invitational.  The meet is one of the two biggest invitationals in California and is run at the famed Woodward Park – site of the California State Championships each year. 

 

Panthers Dominant in 2022 TCAL Opener

September 29th, 2022

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El Sobrante, CA - On Thursday, the St. Mary’s Cross Country team opened their 2022 league season against TCAL foes El Cerrito, De Anza, John Swett and Richmond at Kennedy Grove Regional Park in El Sobrante.  After an entire summer and weeks of fall training behind them, it as said by one coach that “the teams were more than ready for this meet.”  And, as expected, the perennial TCAL stalwarts made quick work of all four opponents. 

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The varsity girls squad, currently ranked #1 in the North Coast Section, ran as a strong, unified group in what was viewed as a warm-up for this weekend’s Artichoke Invitational.  Juniors Annika Punz and Milan Jackson, along with seniors Sofia Jackson and Leiah Goode and sophomores Alexa Lawson and Jing Li-Chou paced a cavalcade of Panthers that dominated the scoring.  In all, the varsity girls scored 7 of the top 9 places and finished with a perfect 15 points in their dominant win. 

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Not to be out-done, the junior varsity girls were even more dominant – placing the top 8 runners overall.  In fact, 16 of the first 17 runners donned Panther uniforms!  Freshman Sierra Maris was credited with the victory in a race where a group of girls ran together.  Sophomore Maddie Potter and Aoife Shen, along with seniors Cally MacIntyre and Dylan Hedgspeth also ran in the lead group.  Maeve Urban, Sienna Silberman and Charlotte Graham also ran strong races according to JV Girls coach Ariana Corwin.

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The boys races were equally as dominate, with the varsity boys placing 5 of the top 6 runners while the JV boys one-upped them by placing 6 of the top 7 runners in their race.  Senior co-captain Adrian Licea led the way, with juniors Collin Kopchik and Charlie Higley… along with sophomore Brandon Bosio running In the same lead pack.  Senior Jurgis Vass rounded out the scoring for the victorious Panthers.

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The JV Boys squad, who according to coach Craig Sutphin were “chomping at the bit” to compete today, showed their talent and enthusiasm while cruising to four emphatic wins.  Sophomores Kai Valle, Luke Bradley, Jacob Demissie, and Javin Schmitt led the way… with freshmen Shane Dougherty, Tucker Presnell and Ian Kopchik providing plenty of supportive firepower.  Gabriel Cabral, Daniel Sankar and Joaquin Tarango also ran strong races for coach Sutphin’s defending JV boy’s league champions.

 

Next up for the Panthers is the annual Artichoke Invitational in Half Moon Bay this Saturday.  

Panthers Take On Nation’s Best @ Woodbridge Invitational 

September 17th, 2022

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Irvine, CA - On Friday, the Saint Mary’s Varsity Cross Country teams departed school at 7:00 am – headed for Southern California to compete that evening at the 41st annual Woodbridge Invitational. Woodbridge is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious high school cross country meets in the country, featuring runners from all around the Golden State and across the country. Defending state champions, soon-to-be state champions, nationally ranked teams and plenty of rising talent take part in the multi-day extravaganza held at Great Park in Irvine, CA. For the SM Panthers, Woodbridge was an exciting opportunity to test themselves against the highest level of prep competition that exists.

Grabbing plenty of highlights for the Panthers were the varsity girls squad. Led by senior Sofia Jackson and juniors Annika Punz and Milan Jackson, the Panthers took 4th place overall in the Varsity Gold Division. All three Panthers recorded big PR’s, which underscored the weekend for the entire team. Sofia’s time of 18:32 was :25 seconds faster than her previous 3 mile best, with Annika (18:33) and Milan (18:39) running similar PR’s.  Sophomore Alexa Lawson placed 4th on the team, running just over 19 minutes while senior Leiah Goode was the 5th finisher in a PR 19:37.  All five runners earned medals for their performances.  Sophomore Jing Li-Chou also had a big race, barely missing the sub-20 minute barrier… finishing in 20:10. Overall, the team’s 4th place finish was remarkable given they were without sophomore Khaya Jackson, who continues to rehab a nagging sore quadricep.

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The Varsity Boys also walked away from Woodbridge with their heads held rightfully high.  Leading the way, as always, was talented senior school record-holder Mateo Malko Allen. Running as the sole Panther in the featured Invitational Sweepstakes Race, Mateo recorded the fastest 3 mile run in school history, finishing with a time of 14:47.  His time was :30 seconds faster than two-time state medalist Dan Maxwell ran in 2009. 

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“I was very excited to race against the best runners on the West Coast,” Mateo said after the race.  “I wasn’t surprised about how fast the race went out, but I was surprised at how fast the race kept going.  I was happy to come away with a new PR and I definitely learned a few things from this race that I think will help me later in the season.”

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90 minutes before Mateo’s race, the varsity boys, like the girls, ran in the large school Gold Division race.  Pacing the Panthers in Mateo’s absence was fast rising junior star Collin Kopchik.  After a somewhat cautious start, Collin stormed over the middle part of the race, passing nearly 40 runners on his way to his first sub-16:00 finish. Collin’s 15:57 PR now ranks him amongst the top 12 runners in school history. After Collin, senior Adrian Licea fought his way to an almost one minute PR, finishing in lg16:22.  

Not to be outdone, junior Charlie Higley also had a big night - trailing Adrian by just 10 seconds and finishing in 16:32. Charlie’s time was a whopping 1:10 faster than his previous PR!  Rounding out the top 5 were a pair of upstart sophomores - Kai Valle and Luke Bradley.  Running in the their first varsity 3 mile race ever, the sophomore duo opened many eyes when they crossed the line in near tandem… Kai coming in at 16:47 and Luke at 16:48. Their times, according to head coach Jeff Rogers, exceeded pre meet expectations but absolutely reflect their talent level.

 

Fellow Sophomore Brandon Bosio gutted his way through a tough race to also break the 17 minute barrier. His time was 16:55. Senior Jurgis Vass, battled through fatigue and a massive crush of runners to finish with a gutsy 17:15. 

 

Overall the coaches and athletes were so pleased about their performances and the hard work that went into being invited to Woodbridge that the next day they were treated to a day at Disneyland! Congratulations to all the athletes who represented the Panthers at the Woodbridge Invitational.

 

Panthers Running Hot @ Ed Sias!
September 10, 2022
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Martinez, CA -  After enjoying a solid summer of group runs, mileage tracking, training camps, and time trials, the Panthers finally put on their meet singlets and ran a race at the 37th annual Ed Siad Invitational.  Led by recent record shattering senior Mateo Malko Allen and the pre-season state ranked varsity girls squad, the only question that remained after the meet was, "What was hotter: the near triple digit weather or the Panther cross country runners?"
 
Mateo was the Panthers top finisher, placing 2nd in the Varsity Boys race after running one of the fastest times in meet history (10:15) and the fastest time ever from a Saint Mary Panther.  After Mateo, junior Collin Kopchik (11:31) placed 2nd on the team, with seniors Adrian Licea (11:45) and Jurgis Vass (11:52) next.  Junior Charlie jvgHigley (11:56) rounded out the scoring for the upstart Panthers.
 
Meanwhile, the Varsity Girls squad announced to the entire Northern California running community that they will be battling for medals at both the section and state level this year.  Saturday's group of six - Sofia Jackson, Annika Punz, Milan Jackson, Alexa Lawson, Leiah Goode and Dylan Hedgspeth - all ran with :32 seconds of each other while recording the 2nd fastest team time of the day.  Only defending state Division 3 champion Campolindo ran faster.
 
"The girls competed very well today," said smiling coach Denis Mohun afterwards.  "I expected Sofia, Annika and Milan to all stay up near the front pack, which they did.  But give credit to both Leiah and Dylan.  They both ran big today.  Leiah ran almost a minute faster than she did last year, and this was Dylan's first race - ever!"
 
The JV Boys also opened eyes with their 4th place team finish in the junior varsity race.  Brandon Bosio (11:54) was the first among a quartet of sophomores to lead the pack.  He, like Leiah, ran much faster than he did a year ago. In fact, his 2:00+ improvement earned him a 7th place finish overall.  Teammate Kai Valle was right behind him in 8th place, a mere :05 off the pace.  Luke Bradley and Javin Schmitt (running his first ever cross country race for the Panthers) placed 16th and 20th respectively, while Gabriel Cabral rounded out the scoring as the Panthers 5th scorer.
 
Finally, the JV Girls team - running at the hottest time of the day - endured, fought and toughed out a courageous 3rd place team finish.  Sophomores Jing Li-Chou (14:46) and Lia Sullivan (15:11) led the way, finishing 8th and 11th... while Maddie Potter (15:26) and Cally MacIntyre (15:52) provided much needed support to propel the team to the awards stand.  Senior Olivia Tarango was the team's 5th scorer.
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Next up for the Panthers is a varsity only race on Friday, September 16th at the prestigious Woodbridge Invitational in Southern California.
 
 

Records Fall, All-Time Lists Altered @ 24th Annual Time Trial

September 7th, 2022

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Berkeley, CA – The 2022 Season officially opened on Wednesday the way that the previous 23 seasons have – with the annual running of the time trial at Tilden Park.  “Normally, the time trial is a glimpse into what the team’s summer training has reaped as well as what level of success maybe in store for the upcoming season,” explained head girl’s coach Denis Mohun just before the start of the event.   Thirty minutes later, after watching the fastest time ever recorded on the course being run… as well as ½ dozen all-time top ten times being recorded - all the coaches – Mohun included – were smiling and eagerly anticipating the upcoming season.

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Headlining the event was senior star Mateo Malko-Allen.  Mateo, intent on cementing his place atop the all-time list - attacked the course with enough courageous aggression to break the 15 year old record previously held by 2 time North Coast Section Champion Matt Duffy.  Mateo’s 9:50 was :04 seconds faster than the former Brown University star.  Finishing after Mateo was fast rising up-and-comer Collin Kopchik in 10:49.  Fellow junior Charlie Higley was next at 11:05, with gjvsophomore Brandon Bosio (11:11) and senior Adrian Licea (11:12) a mere :01 second apart.  Another pair of rising stars, sophomores Luke Bradley and Kai Valle, both joined Charlie, Collin and Brandon on their respective grade all-time lists.  Freshmen Tucker Presnell (12:40) and Shane Doherty (12:49) also made the freshmen all-time list with their strong runs.

 

According to head JV Boys coach Craig Sutphin, several junior varsity runners had impressive runs.  Among them, Daniel McAndrew-Kvaerno (12:41),  Gabriel Cabral (13:21), Joaquin Tarango (13:27), and Ian Kopchik (13:42).

 

For the North Coast Section’s top-ranked girl’s team, the results were not-surprisingly impressive.  Junior Annika Punz showed that the huge summer that she’s put in is certainly paying off.  Annika’s 12:35 was the 6th fastest time ever run by an 11th grade girl.  The team’s two captains – senior Sofia Jackson and junior Milan Jackson – also showed very strong on the winding, hilly 1.95 mile time trial course.  Sofia’s 12:43 was :44 seconds faster than she ran a year ago and ranks her #5 all-time on the senior girl’s list.  Milan, meanwhile, earned her second straight top 10 list – running 12:56 to place #9 all-time for juniors. 

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Sophomore Alexa Lawson (13:05) ran the 7th fastest time for sophomore girls, while fellow classmate Jing Li-Chou now ranks #11 (13:54).  A pair of seniors, Leiah Goode and Dylan Hedgspeth, also are now part of the senior girl’s best ever.  Other strong performances were run by sophomores Maddie Potter and Lia Sullivan… as well as senior Cally MacIntyre.

 

Next up for the Panthers is the Ed Sias Invitational on Saturday at Hidden Valley Park in Martinez. 

Expectations High For 2022 Panthers Cross Country

August 10th, 2022

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Berkeley, CA – Unlike last season, where the terms excitement and uncertainty were used to describe the upcoming season, this 2022 season is filled with excitement and expectation. 

 

For the girls, they are coming come off a 2021 cross country season that saw the them climb as high as #5 in the state rankings, finish 2nd at the NCS Championships, win yet another TCAL league championship, and return all but one of their top 7 runners.  Combine that with a stellar spring track season and some substantial summer training, and this squad has the look of a champion.  In fact, Milesplit CA, the preeminent track and cross country website in California, has already featured the girl’s team as one of the California teams to watch this year. 

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“Our girls took a big step last year in almost winning NCS and making it to the State Championships,” said girl’s coach Denis Mohun.  “This season, everyone has another year of experience, training, leadership and hunger that they’re bringing into the season.  If we can stay healthy, I think this group has the drive, talent and competitiveness to accomplish something special.”

 

The squad will be led, once again, by a trio of Jacksons along with several other rising stars.  Junior Milan Jackson, senior captain Sofia Jackson, and sophomore Khaya Jackson (sister of Milan) all broke the 19:00 barrier at last year’s NCS MOC – placing 8th, 9th and 10th respectively.  Along with fast rising junior Annika Punz, senior Leiah Goode and super sophomore Alexa Lawson, this group heads into the NCS season as the odds on favorite to win the section title.  Sophomores Jing Li-Chou, Aoife Shen and Lia Sullivan… along with seniors Cally McIntyre, Olivia Tarango, Georgia Rogers and Dylan Hedgspeth will all provide leadership and depth to this very talented 2022 group.

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The boy’s squad will be led by one of the top returning runners in the section, senior Mateo Malko-Allen.  After a solid 2021 cross season which saw him advance to the state championships, Mateo had a spectacular spring track season.  He spent the entire first 2/3 of the season winning races, setting records, and establishing himself as the top middle runner in the NCS.  A late season bout with Covid derailed his championship track season but the senior captain is back training this summer with a vengeance.  Look for this ultra-talented senior to duplicate this fall the success he had on the track in the spring.

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Behind Mateo, the boy’s have a quartet of talented runners who’s dedication to summer running has been impressive.  Senior Adrian Licea, whose 17:19 was 3rd best on the team at last year’s NCS MOC, has been healthy and is looking to cash in on his committed spring and summer.  Two juniors, Collin Kopchik and Charlie Higley will also figure prominently in the Panthers success this season.  Collin placed 10th at last year’s TCAL Finals and returns as one of the top runners in the league.  His fine 2022 track season and summer training suggest he’ll be much improved.  Fellow classmate Charlie, who head coach Jeff Rogers calls “one of the most talented runners we have,” won the frosh-soph boys league championship last season before advancing to the Bayshore Track Championships in the 800.  Look for him the give the Panthers a much needed boost. 

 

 

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Senior Vale Johnson Vigeant has had as good a running summer as anyone and looks fit and enthusiastic enough to make a solid run at the vaunted 17:00 mark this season.  Sophomores Brandon Bosio and Luke Bradley… as well as senior Jurgis Vass and junior Darragh Westover will round out the varsity team for this year’s Panthers.