Cross Country (2023)
Panthers Take On Nation’s Best @ California State Championships
November 25th, 2023
Clovis, CA – Having consistently produced national champions, national record holders, and future Olympians… each year the California State Cross Country Championships are widely regarded as the nation’s premier cross country event. The meet is run on the famed Woodward Park course in Clovis (Fresno) and, in short, is a dazzling marvel of elite talent, exuberant spectators and a multitude of media outlets. So it was, in this backdrop, that the Saint Mary’s team arrived… ready to compete.
For the girl’s team, having competed in last year’s state finals made the meet’s atmosphere only somewhat new. Still, the competition was substantial and the racing impressively fast. Senior Annika Punz, no stranger to fast races and pressure situations, once again led the Panthers pack… getting out fast and finishing 34th among the 195 runners. After finishing 6th at the North Coast Section Championships, Annika improved her position at state by finishing 5th among all NCS runners.
Teammate Jing Li-Chou, running in her second state championship, was the team’s 2nd finisher at 20:01, while freshman Sabrina Jackson moved from 109th place at the first mile mark up to 88th by the finish. She ran a PR 20:20. Alexa Lawson, Madi Potter, Lia Sullivan and freshman Uma Vela all ran within :03 seconds of each other… finishing in 20:40, 20:40, 20:42 and 20:43 respectively. The team ended up 12th in the field of 24.
Madi Potter, Lia Sullivan, Sabrina Jackson, Uma Vela, Annika Punz, Alexa Lawson, Jing Li-Chou
“All in all, we had a solid day,” said coach Mohun after it was done. “Our girl’s really came together in the last part of the season and I think we really surprised some people. Annika will be a big loss next season, but I’m hopeful that this group will come together in the summer and establish a solid foundation that will bring us back here ready to compete.”
For the boy’s, this state meet experience was brand new. Not a single member of the team had ever competed at state and only two of the seven runners had ever even been on the Woodward Park course! Still, the team – whose NCS run a week earlier had been sub-par for this group – ran like their #5 state ranking reflected. Courageous, tough, smart and competitive, the team ran the fastest team time in school history and beat 7 of the 9 section champions in the field. Their 6th place finish was the highest team finish since 2008.
Leading the way for the Panthers, in his last high school cross country race, was senior Collin Kopchik. After a 5:00 start over the first mile, he picked off 14 runners over the next 2.1 miles and finished 37th in 16:19. His time is one of the 6 fastest in school history at the state meet. Teammate Javin Schmitt, whose meteoric rise of the course of the past year has been “the key” to the team’s success according to head coach Jeff Rogers, also ran a great race. After a 5:01 first mile, Javin proceeded to run down 18 very talented runners and finished just one spot behind Collin in 38th. Javin’s time was 16:22.
Shane Doherty, Kai Valle, Javin Schmitt, Jacob Demissie, Brandon Bosio, Collin Kopchik, Tucker Presnell
Junior Jacob Demissie who, like Javin, has shown remarkable improvement from last year also ran very well. Running in 84th place after one mile, Jacob amazingly and quite courageously passed 30 runners in just the 2nd mile… moving all the way up to 54th before finally finishing 50th in the field of 201 runners. His time, 16:28, also places him on the school’s all-time Woodward Park list. Sophomore Tucker Presnell passed 29 runners in the 2nd mile before ending up 59th overall at 16:34. Junior Kai Valle (77th) ran 16:52 to finish the scoring, with fellow junior Brandon Bosio (17:32) and sophomore Shane Doherty (17:48) running 6th and 7th for the Panthers.
Overall, these 2023 Panthers had a great season… both winning TCAL titles, earning state qualifying places at the NCS Championships, and then a pair of impressive efforts in the nation’s most competitive scholastic race. Congratulations to all the Saint Mary’s runners, coaches and their families!
On To State!
November 18th, 2023
Hayward, CA – Because the Saint Mary’s boy’s and/or girl’s cross teams have made an impressive 25 state meet appearances over the past 25 years, it is no surprise that most seasons have the varsity runners and coaches setting the season-ending state meet as one of the team’s goals. On Saturday, despite heavy rain, mud, and a slew of ultra-competitive Division IV teams, the Panthers booked their tickets for yet another state championship run.
The boy’s team entered the meet ranked #2 in the NCS, having performed spectacularly at their TCAL championship meet after having run very well for most of the season. However, the stress of the rain, slop and mud would test the groups meddle and desire like they haven’t been tested all season.
“While it’s true the conditions are the same for everyone, not everyone is effected in the same way,” said a relieved coach Jeff Rogers after the race. “Some of our guys were able to handle the unsettled footing and stress of the course pretty well, but some have running styles that were really disrupted. We’re fortunate that our group is so talented and deep that we were able to squeak by.”
Indeed, the boy’s team grabbed… by a single point… the final state meet qualifying spot – edging Bishop O’Dowd 102-103. Junior Javin Schmitt’s courageous run over the last ½ mile was one of the key moments for the Panthers, according to assistant Ben Turman.
“Javin was running slightly behind a pack of four runners with ½ mile to go. We needed him to catch and pass at least three of those guys, which he did. He was one of our saviors today.”
Sophomore Tucker Presnell also had a huge race for the Panthers, finishing 2nd on the team and 14th overall. Junior Kai Valle was 16th overall, with Jacob Demissie and Collin Kopchik rounding out the scoring. Sophomore Shane Doherty and junior Brandon Bosio ran at #6 and #7 for the state-bound Panthers.
The girls squad – despite being the defending NCS Champions – entered the meet having had their share of ups and downs this season. Transfers, injuries, slow starts, and new faces presented exceptional challenges and created some doubt in the minds of some Northern California prognosticators. But, after an impressive TCAL run and having the luxury of undeniable talent and deep championship DNA, the team was seemingly on the rise and ready to go. Saturday proved this to be true.
Led by 1st team All-North Coast Section selection Annika Punz, the Panthers ran their best race of the season in finishing 2nd and will be heading to Clovis next week.
“Annika has led us physically and emotionally all year,” said a very happy coach Mohun. “Her willingness to embrace the conditions today inspired our entire team, especially some of our newer runners. She was big for us today.”
Annika’s 6th place finish overall earned her an individual medal, while juniors Jing Li-Chou (14th) and Alexa Lawson (17th) ran solidly in support. Freshman Sabrina Jackson, whose talent and promise has been on display all year, ran #4 for the team… while Lia Sullivan’s gritty race was just :04 behind Sabrina and the state meet-clinching place. Freshman Uma Vela was just :04 behind Lia, while Madi Potter’s :11 gap behind Uma made the Panthers team the fastest 7 in the race.
Overall, it was a proud day for the Panther harriers. Having shown up on summer evenings and Saturday mornings while enduring imposing hills, oppressive heat and annoying rain – the teams earned their place amongst California’s best: The State Championships. Congratulations to all the runners, their coaches and their families!
Panthers Too Much For TCAL Foes; Sweep All Five Races @ League Championships
November 2, 2023
Richmond, CA – On Thursday, the Saint Mary’s cross country teams – boasting depth, talent and an insatiable desire to win, accomplished a league championship first: a sweep of all 5 contested races. Led by individual winners Annika Punz (varsity girls), Joaquin Tarango (JV boys) and a bevy of first and second team all-league award winners, the Panthers literally ran away with five league championship banners.
The Varsity Boys - running an inspired, gutsy race – scored a razor thin win against the 2021 California State Champion and 2022 North Coast Section Champion Albany Cougars. The single point victory was the Panthers first varsity boys league championship in seven years.
“The guys were incredible today,” said boys coach Jeff Rogers after the race. “We were down a couple points midway through the race, but our guys were so focused and so determined to win this championship. They somehow found a way to pass a few people and grind out the win. Coach Turman and I are really proud of their effort, but not surprised. These guys have run that way all year long.”
Senior Collin Kopchik was the day’s fastest - running the 3.0 mile loop in 15:43, a lifetime best for him on the rolling, challenging Point Pinole course. Teammate Javin Schmitt was close behind, moving and passing runners in the last mile before finishing in 15:52. Fellow junior Jacob Demissie joined Collin and Javin as a 1st team all-league selection, finishing 7th overall at 16:09. Kai Valle, Tucker Presnell, Brandon Bosio and Shane Doherty were all named 2nd team All-TCAL.
Senior Annika Punz, the 2022 TCAL runner-up, cemented herself as this year’s fastest runner with a convincing win in her last race at Point Pinole. Taking the lead early, Annika tore through the familiar three mile course in 18:49, a Point Pinole PR for her. Jing Li-Chou was the runner-up, also racing to a course PR in 19:09. Juniors Alexa Lawson (5th overall) and Lia Sullivan (6th)… along with freshman Sabrina Jackson (7th) joined Annika and Jing as 1st team all-leaguers. Teammates Madi Potter and Uma Vela both earned 2nd team honors.
Both the F/S and JV boys chalked up wins on Thursday - each team defeating league rival Albany in close contests. The frosh-soph boys placed four runners in the top five, led by sophomores Adrian Hall and Ian Kopchik to secure their win. Similarly, the JV boys – behind race winner Joaquin Tarango, 3rd place finisher Daniel McAndrew-Kvaerno and 4th placer Luke Bradley – scored a narrow 6 point win. Both races resulted in several all-league award winners, among them: Simon Murphy, Djali de Chalus, Shea Turon, Finley Basler, Bear Souza, Gabriel Cabral, Nico Echeverria and Jagger Gullov-Singh.
The Panthers JV girls team, who have won every single TCAL league championship race ever contested, continued their dominance with an 18 point win over Albany. Charlotte Graham (2nd overall), freshman Reva Schmitt (3rd), and Lilah Nemerson-Hoover(6th) led the way… each coming away with first team awards. Katherine Scannell, Natalie Andress, Sierra Maris, Naomi Fogleman, and Ella Pollard all ran onto the 2nd team.
Overall, it was a spectacularly successful, joyous day for the Panther runners as well as their coaches and families. Congratulations to all the cross country teams for their league championship performances!
Clean Sweep Shows Off Panthers Depth @ TCAL Finale
October 26th, 2023
Richmond, CA – Running in the final TCAL regular season meet of the year, with just one week before the TCAL Championships, the Panther cross country teams are looking strong and in prime form. Hosting league foes Hercules, SPSV and Vallejo, the Panthers made quick work of all three teams on their way to runaway victories.
Both junior varsity races were Panther victories, with the girls dominating from the front with explosive talent while the boys utilized their depth and fortitude to seal the victory.
Freshman Sabrina Jackson ran an incredibly fast time on the rolling 2.0 Point Pinole course to highlight the girls win. Sabrina’s time of 12:46 was, according to several coaches, the fastest time by a JV girl in recent memory. Following Sabrina was fellow 9th grader Uma Vela, whose inaugural cross country season has been nothing short of impressive. Lilah Nemerson-Hoover, Reva Schmitt and Katherine Scannell comprised the scoring five for the Panthers… although runs by Ella Pollard, Siena Silberman, senior Maeve Urban, Kamryn Levy and Constance St. Clair all resulted in lifetime bests according to JV girls coach Ariana Corwin.
“I was really proud of the girls today,” said an exuberant coach Corwin after the race. “Their times were significantly faster than their last race. They really went after it today.”
The JV boys, equally impressive in talent and grit, had to overcome a strong 2-3-4 finish by rival De Anza to rally for their victory. Nico Echeverria, Isaac Porter and Finlay Basler led the victors, followed by Mika Mazin, Malcolm Urban and Nico PIlara. Together, their scant :25 second gap and clustered finish was enough to secure the win.
The next Panther trio - Andrew Bosio, Lucien Wingate, Jagger Gullov-Singh – ran very well according to coach Sutphin… as did Zach Potter, Eliott Ragot and Eddie Rau. Overall, the Panthers JV teams posted nearly 20 PR’s (personal bests) as they head into next week’s championships.
Both boy’s and girl’s varsity teams also posted convincing wins; the girls running un-opposed while the boy’s had 10 of the first 12 finishers on their way to victory. Leading the way were juniors Jing Li-Chou and Alexa Lawson for the girls and sophomores Adrian Hall and Ian Kopchik.. as well as freshman Djali de Chalus and junior Luke Bradley for the boys.
Next up for the Panthers will be the TCAL League Championships on Thursday, November 2nd at Point Pinole. First race is at 1:45 pm… with the awards ceremony beginning at 4:20 pm.
Collin Kopchik’s Big Win Leads Panthers @ Mariner Invitational
October 21st, 2023
Hayward, CA – The Mariner Invitational is widely considered to be the final invitational as well as the final tune-up of the cross country season. After it, teams advance into the postseason, hoping to find the magic peak at their league and section championship races. With teams from all over the greater Bay Area – 88 in total - the races were fast and the competition was fierce.
Per usual for this 2023 season, the Panthers cross country runners did not waiver and did not back down. Highlighted by senior Collin Kopchik‘s individual win in his last weekend invitational as a Saint Mary’s Panther, the cross country squad scored team wins, posted lots of lifetime bests, and took home plenty of hardware at the 40th annual Mariner Invitational ay Hayward High School on Saturday.
“Collin, along with all of his teammates, was outstanding today,” noted boy’s coach Jeff Rogers afterwards. “He and Javin went right to the front, took the lead around the mile mark, and never relinquished it. They both paced each other really well. Jacob, Tucker and Kai did the same thing just a few seconds back. That kind of great pack running is hard to beat.”
Indeed, the #5 state ranked team made quick work of all comers on Saturday, outscoring 2nd place Tamalpais by a whopping 50 points! After Collin (15:37), Javin (15:40) was 2nd overall, with Jacob 6th (16:00), Tucker 8th (16:05) and Kai 10th (16:11). The :34 second gap between runners 1 – 5 is simply “outstanding” according to coach Rogers.
Junior Jing Li-Chou was the fastest girl Panther of the day, outpacing most of the other 250 runners in the field to place ninth overall in a lifetime best 18:50.
“I’m not surprised by Jing’s performance today,” said her coach - Denis Mohun. “Her practice sessions have been going really well and her desire to run fast oozes out of her when we talk. At this rate, don’t be surprised if she goes even faster next month at NCS.”
Senior Annika Punz was 2nd (12th overall), followed by Alexa Lawson, Maddie Potter and Lia Sullivan for the varsity runner-ups.
The Frosh-Soph boys also benefited from great pack running at Mariner. The team finished fourth overall in a stacked, talented field of teams. Sophomore Ian Kopchik was the fastest on the team, running a lifetime best 17:21 while placing 17th overall. Freshman Djali de Chalus, whose inaugural season has been nothing short of spectacular, was the Panthers second runner. His time, 17:23, was over 40 seconds faster than what he ran on the same course just a month ago! Sophomores Adrian Hall, and Simon Murphy placed third and fourth for the team, with sophomore Shea Turon and freshmen Isaac Porter and Finley Bassler rounding out the scoring for coach Sutphin’s talented squad.
Freshman Uma Vela had one of the more eye-opening races for the Panthers on Saturday, finishing 7th overall in the girl’s frosh-soph race with a massive PR over the 3.0 mile course. Her time, 20:33, was 1:30 faster than she had ever run for 3 miles! Coach Mohun called her performance “stunning” and suggested that her days on frosh-soph maybe over. “With runs like that, varsity level races seem to be calling,” said the gleaming coach. Fellow freshmen teammate, Sabrina Jackson also took home an individual medal, running 21:13 to place 14th.
Panthers Take 3 of 4 @ Second TCAL League Cluster Meet
October 12th, 2023
Richmond, CA – The Saint Mary’s cross country continued their stellar 2023 campaign with 3 convincing wins and a very tight, very close loss at their 2nd of 3 TCAL cluster meets at Point Pinole Regional Park on Thursday.
Making the loudest statements were both the JV boys and JV girls teams. The JV Boys – fresh off impressive wins at the annual Artichoke Invitational – once again ran to victory on the rolling 2.0 mile Point Pinole course. Sophomore Adrian Hall was the team’s top, finishing 3rd overall in 11:23. Djali de Chalus continued his fine freshman campaign with a PR 11:29, which was good for 4th. A pair of sophomores – Ian Kopchik and Simon Murphy – finished 5th and 6th respectively while junior Bear Souza completed the scoring for the victors. The final team score showed the Panthers winning by 13 points. According to veteran coach Craig Sutphin, other top performances were run by Finlay Basler, Shea Turon, Isaac Porter and Dash Sanchez Jackson.
Meanwhile, the JV Girls – who have never lost a TCAL meet – once again flexed their competitive muscles with their near 30 point win. Sophomore Charlotte Graham was the overall winner… followed by senior Lilah Nemerson Hoover’s massive 14:40 PR and freshman Reva Schmitt’s 15:00 lifetime best. Freshman Kamryn Levy and sophomores Naomi Fogleman and Ella Pollard also ran big races for the Panthers.
For the varsity, the girl’s team once again showed that their hallmark talent and sheer determination is too much for their league rivals to overcome as they won by a whopping 18 points. Senior Annika Punz led the way, with juniors Jing Li-Chous and Alexa Lawson in hot pursuit.
Next up for the Panthers will be the Mariner Invitational on October 21st, hosted by Moreau Catholic but run on the vaunted Hayward High School course.
Boy’s Complete 3 Team Sweep @ Artichoke Invitational
October 7th, 2023
Half Moon Bay, CA – On Saturday, the Panthers coaching staff decided to the by-pass the prestigious varsity-only Clovis Invitational in favor of the annual, fan favorite Artichoke Invitational. The decision was made in order to allow a few dozen of the near 70 member team to compete and experience the always tough and entertaining meet in Half Moon Bay. Featuring a narrow bottleneck start, a few loops around the fan-lined school, hay bails that act as de facto steeplechase barriers, and the legendarily daunting “Cougar Hill”… the meet is a great way to introduce all Panther runners to a challenging, competitive, unforgettable meet. Not surprisingly, the groups that competed this year took full advantage of their opportunities and came home with loads of individual medals, personal bests, team plaques, and many, many great memories
Junior Javin Schmitt, whose diligence, determination and team leadership have vaulted him to the upper tier of TCAL and NCS runners, led the way with an impressive win in the Varsity Boy’s race. Javin’s 12:20 over the 2.3 miles is a mere :07 slower than all-state and school record holder Mateo Malko-Allen’s junior year time at Artichoke and a wopping 1:44 PR on the course. Right behind Javin was fellow junior Jacob Demissie, who ran a spectacular race to finish 3rd at 12:33. Jacob’s time, like Javin, was more than 1:30 faster than a year ago! Kai Valle, Collin Kopchik and Brandon Bosio rounded out the scoring for the winners.
The frosh-soph boys, led by 2nd place finisher Shane Doherty (13:20), also won their race – outdueling Mills (Millbrae) High School 48-57. Following Shane were medalists Djali de Chalus (13:59), sophomore up and comer Simon Murphy (14:05), Ian Kopchik (14:25), and Adrian Hall (14:29).
Not to be outdone, the JV Boys had 3 runners place in the top 4 and won their race by more than 30 points over runner-up Washington (SF). Junior Joaquin Tarango (14:25) was the first Panther across the line, followed by senior Daniel McAndrew-Kvaerno and junior Bear Souza (14:28). The trio’s :03 second gap was super impressive and right in line with the pre-race plan according to varsity coach Ben Turman.
The varsity girls team faced Archie Williams (San Anselmo) - the top ranked team in the NCS division 4 rankings – at Artichoke and after a spirited duel fell just a tad short. Senior Annike Punz was the fastest Panther of the day, finishing in 15:29. She was followed by junior Jing Li-Chou (15:34) who was 5th overall… while Alexa Lawson was 9th at 15:54. Juniors Lia Sullivan and Maddie Potter completed the scoring for the Panthers – running a mere :09 seconds apart.
Other notable performers were sophomore Charlotte Graham (6th overall – JV Girls), freshman Sabrina Jackson (8th – JV Girls).
Panthers Roll Past All Comers @ TCAL Opener
September 27, 2023
Richmond, CA – After competing at three straight Saturday invitational races to open the year, the Panthers cross country teams finally opened their 2023 TCAL season with an out-of-the-ordinary Wednesday contest against league rivals El Cerrito, De Anza, and John Swett at Point Pinole Regional Park. This year’s opener, much like 2022 and most of the past ten seasons before that, showcased the Panthers depth, talent and speed as both JV and Varsity teams completely dominated their races en route to massive victories.
The JV boys – led by head coach Craig Sutphin and volunteer assistant Danilo Garcia ('06) – may have exemplified the Panthers dominance the best by placing 6 runners in the top 7, 12 in the top 15, and 17 in the top 21 in their trifecta of wins. Sophomores Ian Kopchik and Adrian Hall were the days best, running the 2.0 mile course in a sizzling 11:36 and 11:41 respectively. Ian and Adrian were followed by a quartet of Panthers – junior Bear Souza, sophomore Simon Murphy, freshman Djali de Chalus, and sophomore Shea Turon. The gap between Bear and Shea was only :17 seconds.
The JV girls, who in the history of the TCAL have won every single team championship, flexed their historic running muscles by scoring 6 of the top 7 places in their trio of wins. Freshman Sabrina Jackson and sophomore Charlotte Graham ran together for about 1.99 of the 2.0 mile race before Sabrina won the final sprint. She beat Charlotte by .6 seconds – 14:40.0 to 14:40.6! Freshman Reva Schmitt continued her fine freshman campaign with a 3rd place finish, while sophomore Siena Silberman, freshman Kamryn Levy, and sophomore Naomi Fogelman finished 5th, 6th and 7th overall.
Both varsity teams also rolled to convincing wins. The boys team ran in a tight bunch and cruised to a comfortable 17:03 finish… with junior Kai Valle credited with the team’s top place. The team’s top 6 runners were :02 apart.
The girls varsity, meanwhile, scored the top 4 places and 7 of the top 8 in their race. Annika Punz, Alexa Lawson, Lia Sullivan and Maddie Potter led the way… with Sierra Maris, Lilah Nemerson-Hoover and Katherine Scannell next for the reigning TCAL champions.
The Panthers next meet is on Saturday, October 7th in Half Moon Bay at the Artichoke Invitational.
Wins, PR’s, and Gritty Efforts Continue @ Eye Opener Invitational
September 23rd, 2023
Alexa Lawson Sprints To The Finish
Petaluma, CA – The first race at Saturday’s Eye Opener Invitational was the 8:30 am freshmen boy’s race which required the Panther harriers to rise early and get their bodies moving over the mostly flat 3.0 mile course at Shollenberger Park in Petaluma. Fortunately, the early race schedules seemed to energize and motivate the young, hungry Panther squads.
Djali de Chalus Leads The Freshmen Pack
“Super early start times are not normally what we hope for,” said a smiling head JV Girls coach Ariana Corwin after the races. “But considering how fast everyone ran today, maybe we should re-think what we’re hoping for.”
Indeed, Coach Corwin was right on target in pointing out how fast the Panthers ran. Juniors Javin Schmitt, Jacob Demissie, Jing Li-Chou and Alexa Lawson... as well as senior Collin Kopchik all ran fast enough to earn themselves lifetime bests and Top 10 times of the day. Javin, Jing and Collin finished 2nd overall in their respective class races, while Alexa was 3rd and Jacob 6th.
Sophomore Shane Doherty
Sophomores Tucker Presnell (2nd), and Shane Doherty (4th) had top 10 finishes… as did freshmen Djali de Chalus (2nd), Uma Vela (5th) and Sabrina Jackson (6th). Kai Valle and Lia Sullivan both finished 10th in their junior class races.
Sophomore Charlotte Graham's Big Finish
For the boy’s, big PR’s were run by senior Daniel McAndrew-Kvaerno (17:33), junior Gabriel Cabral (18:18), sophomores Simon Murphy (17:58) and Shea Turon (18:00), and freshman Bruno Middleton (19:18).
Top 10 Performers Jing Li-Chou, Alexa Lawson, Jacob Demissie, Javin Schmitt, Collin Kopchik
For the girl’s, lifetime bests by senior Lilah Nemerson-Hoover and freshman Reva Schmitt were pointed out by Coach Corwin.
"Freshman Squad" - Dash Sanchez Jackson, Bruno Middleton, Malcolm Urban, Suleimon Johnson-Redfern, Andrew Bosio, Djali de Chalus (front)
Next up for the Panthers is their TCAL league opener on Wednesday at Point Pinole Regional Park against El Cerrito, De Anza, John Swett and JF Kennedy (Richmond). First race is at 4:00 pm.
Fast Times at Hayward High!
September 16th, 2023
Hayward, CA – Highlighted by historically fast times from senior Collin Kopchik and junior Javin Schmitt, the Saint Mary’s cross country teams ran, grinded, and fought their way to a trio of team plaques and a bevy of individual medals at the 20th annual Farmer Invitational on Saturday at Hayward High School.
Grabbing the headlines were the varsity boys team, whose spirited, gutsy performance earned them the top performance by any North Coast Section team and a 2nd place finish overall. The aforementioned Collin and Javin, both individual medalists, finished 8th and 9th respectively while climbing all the way to #7 and #8 on the school’s all-time 3 mile list. Collin ran 15:40 with Javin just a second back at 15:41.
“Those guys set the tone for the entire team,” noted long-time coach Jeff Rogers. “Their aggressiveness and competitiveness was contagious and energized the whole team. All teams need tone-setters and those two did it for us today.”
Fellow junior Jacob Demissie, also sporting a shiny medal around his neck after the race, also cemented his name on the school’s all-time list with his huge 16:02 PR. Jacob finished 20th overall. After Jacob, just :08 seconds separated the next three Panthers: sophomore Tucker Presnell, junior Kai Valle, and sophomore Shane Doherty. Both Tucker and Shane ran more than a minute faster than they did in 2022. Junior Brandon Bosio also ran faster than he ever had for 3 miles, finishing in 16:50.
The varsity girls, still running without their best seven, still managed a respectable 6th place finish in the varsity race. Once again, senior Annika Punz was the team’s top finisher, placing 3rd in 18:53.
“Annika’s really went for it today,” assessed coach Mohun afterwards. “She was side by side with the eventual winner for the first half of the race. We love the attitude and aggressiveness, but it may have been a bit too much. We’ll work on her pacing and strategy and I expect she’ll go even faster the next time we run at Hayward.”
Teammate Jing Li-Chou also ran really well, placing 12th overall and earning her a top 20 placing on the school’s all-time list. Her time, 19:16, was almost a minute faster than she ran at the North Coast Section Championships in 2022.
Underclassmen and newcomers also shined bright in the non-varsity races on Saturday, led by top 10 placers Adrian Hall (6th place – 17:39) and Ian Kopchik (8th – 17:45) in the JV Boys race, freshmen Djali de Chalus (2nd – 18:11), Finlay Basler (6th – 18:54), and Nico Pilara (8th – 19:19) in the freshman boys race, and junior Maddie Potter (3rd – 22:13), freshman Sabrina Jackson (6th – 22:24), and freshman Uma Vela (7th – 22:26) in the JV Girls race.
Overall, the Panther teams finished 2nd overall in the boys varsity, boys junior varsity and girls junior varsity race and 3rd overall in the freshman boys race. Congratulations to all the runners and coaches on a great meet!
“Who Are Those Guys?”
Varsity Boys Make Strong Statement @ Ed Sias
September 9, 2023
Boys Varsity @ Ed Sias: Daniel McAndrew-Kvaerno, Luke Bradley, Kai Valle, Javin Schmitt, Jacob Demissie, Brandon Bosio, Collin Kopchik
Martinez, CA – The annual Ed Sias Invitational, hosted by cross country powerhouse Campolindo High School, routinely features some of the top ranked teams in the state. Teams from all over Northern California come to Hidden Valley Park to open their season against other top talent and assess how their summer training has gone. This year, the varsity boys race featured three division 3 teams ranked in the top 10 in California and three others ranked in the top 10 in division 4. The Panthers - talented, hungry, hard-working but un-ranked – were not on the radar of any of the pre-meet analysts or prognosticators. So, after a stunning performance that saw them out-run the #5 and #9 division 4 teams… and only being out-pointed by 2 ranked division 3 teams… some in the crowd were heard asking: “Who Are Those Guys?”
Senior Collin Kopchik
Senior Annika Punz
Leading the way for the Panthers was senior Collin Kopchik (10:50) and juniors Javin Schmitt (10:53) and Jacob Demissie (11:11). Collin finished 10th overall, earning him both an individual medal as well as some Ed Sias swag. Javin, 11th overall, finished just out of the medals but his time was more than 2:00 faster than his time a year ago. Javin’s improvement is indicative of what the entire team has been able to accomplish in the past year.
2nd Place Finisher Tucker Presnell
Asked about their performance after the race, coach Rogers said “Yeah, the guys have really improved a lot. Coach Ben has offered them an opportunity to run pretty much year round and they’ve responded. Today was a small peak into the rewards they’ll get from their hard work and dedication.” Juniors Kai Valle (11:35) and Brandon Bosio (11:36) finished the scoring for the back pack winning crew!
(l to r) Isaac Porter, Malcolm Urban, Nico Pilara
Not to be outdone, the Junior Varsity Boys also placed 3rd overall and had the highest placing individual of the day in 2nd place finisher Tucker Presnell. Tucker, whose 1:45 improvement from last year was one of the day’s best, ran 11:20 to pace the Panthers. Fellow sophomore Shane Doherty was next in 11:44, followed by surging sophomore Ian Kopchik (11:59). Junior Joaquin Tarango and sophomore Shea Turon capped the scoring for the medal-winning Panthers.
Freshman Sabrina Jackson
The freshman boys, led by 6th place & medal winner Djali de Chalus, also ran a solid race according to coach Sutphin. Coach was most pleased by the scant :06 second gap that Nico Pilara, Issac Porter and Malcolm Urban were able to maintain. “Incredible” is how coach Sutphin described it.
The varsity girls, running shorthanded and without their expected top 5, still got impressive performances from several runners. Per usual, senior Annika Punz led the way with her 9th place finish overall. Her time, 13:08, was nearly :20 faster than last year… a year in which she was 1st team All North Coast Section! Junior Jing Li-Chou also PR’d by nearly :30 seconds, but it was senior Lilah Nemerson-Hoover’s 1:30 second improvement that coach Mohun mentioned 1st after the race.
Boys JV: Shea Turon, Nico Echeverria, Shane Doherty, Joaquin Tarngo, Bear Souza, Tucker Presnell, Ian Kopchik
Next up for the Panthers is the Farmer Invitational on Saturday at Hayward High School. First race is at 9:00 am.
All-Time Lists Re-Written After “Scary Fast” Team Time Trial
September 5th, 2023
Berkeley, CA –Because team championships and individual medals are won in November and not at the beginning of the school year, veteran cross country coaches understand how to modulate early season performances, no matter how fast or slow they maybe. However, after Tuesdays blistering team time trial, it was hard for any of the coaches to keep their smiles and expectations muted.
“Both teams ran scary fast today,” said longtime JV Boys head coach Craig Sutphin after the race. “We knew we had some talented runners and we figured that after a summer of running they would come out fast… but we didn’t think they’d go THAT fast.”
Indeed, the all-time class records as well as the overall all-time list needs a bevy of updates after today’s race. Ten runners ran themselves onto their class all-time top 10 list, including four runners who now rank among the top 10 Panthers to ever run the time trial – now in it’s 25th year.
Seniors Collin Kopchik (10:15) and Annika Punz (12:10) were the day’s fastest boy and girl, each running their course PR’s on the rolling 2.0 mile course. Collin’s time makes him the 5th fastest Panther ever while Annika’s renders her the 6th fastest. A pair of 11th graders, Javin Schmitt and Alexa Lawson, also earned “Top 10 All-Time” status by running 10:22 and 12:27 respectively. Javin is now the 9th and Alexa the 7th fastest ever. Teammates and fellow juniors Jacob Demissie and Jing Li-Chou also ran well enough to rank amongst the top 10 juniors in school history.
The sophomore class also shined very bright on Tuesday, led by Tucker Presnell (10:41) and Shane Doherty (10:46). Both cemented their place on the all-time sophomore list – Tucker now at #3 and Shane at #5. Another pair of 10th graders – Ian Kopchik (11:42) and newcomer Shea Turon (12:01) were both awarded big praise from the coaching staff for their strong runs.
Finally, the freshman class made a strong statement about it’s talent and desire to become the next batch of great Panther runners. Freshman Djali de Chalus was the fastest of the group after gutting out a tough 12:02. That time earned him the #7 spot on the freshman all-time list as well as added respect from his upper-class teammates. Classmate Finley Basler also had a strong outing, running 12:23 for the #10 slot on the 9th grade list. Sabrina Jackson, whose sister Sofia (‘23) ranks among the best Panther runners ever, carried on the Jackson legacy with a fine 15:31 effort that earned her a spot on the all-time frosh list. Sabrina was also the fastest freshman girl of the day.
Next up for the Panthers is the season opening race at the Ed Sias Invitational on Saturday at Hidden Valley Park in Martinez.
2023 Panthers Enter Season Highly Touted and Hungry!
August 11th, 2023
Senior All-NCS Returner: Annika Punz
Both the defending NCS Champion girls and pre-season #4 NCS ranked boys cross country teams recently finalized their schedule for the 2023 season. The coaching staff has the Panthers slated for a full season of competitive racing in preparation for runs at league, section and state prizes. With a core group of key contributors back from last year's squads, both Panthers teams seemed primed for great seasons.
"I am very optimistic about the upcoming season," said girl’s varsity head coach Denis Mohun, whose girls rolled through TCAL opponents quite impressively in 2022. "Even though we graduated some great runners, we bring back a strong returning cast from last year's championship team. I expect the newcomers to varsity to fit right in and make an immediate impact."
Headlining this year’s crew will be senior Annika Punz. After a very productive summer, look for the 2022 NCS medalist to add even more hardware to her already impressive collection. Juniors Alexa Lawson, Jing Li-Chou and Lia Sullivan figure to provide the Panthers with a very solid 2-3-4 punch, while fellow junior Madison Potter will be making her all-important move to the varsity squad. Add to that the expected contributions from sophomore Sierra Maris and Charlotte Graham as well as junior Aoife Shen … and the result is enough firepower to make the Panthers the heavy favorite to repeat as TCAL champions as well as the pre-season #2 ranked Division IV team in the North Coast Section.
“The boys squad is a group that is eager to establish themselves as one of the Division IV elites,” says coach Jeff Rogers. “We return 7 of our top 8 runners from a year ago plus add some guys who are young, talented and hungry. Add to that the productive summer we’ve had and there seems to be no good reason why we shouldn’t be
challenging for championship hardware this season.”
Among the returners, senior Collin Kopchik, juniors Javin Schmitt and Jacob Demissie, and sophomore Tucker Presnell seem to have emerged from the summer in the best shape. Look for all of them to make a run at all-league honors. Kai Valle is the fastest returner on paper, while Brandon Bosio and Luke Bradley’s experience and determination suggest those two could go well this year. Add to the fray the TCAL junior varsity 1600 and 3200 meter track titles sophomore Shane Doherty won this past spring along with the up-and-coming talent of sophomore Adrian Hall and Ian Kopchik and this team’s pre-season NCS ranking begins to make sense.
The Panthers will begin the 2023 season with their 25th annual time trial at Tilden Park on Tuesday, September 5th. After a Saturday in Hidden Valley Park at the Ed Sias Invitational on September 9th, the teams travels to Hayward for their inaugural 3 mile race of the season at the Farmer Invitational. The TCAL season opens on Wednesday, September 27th at Point Pinole Regional Park before heading to the annual Artichoke Invitational in Half Moon Bay on Saturday, October 7th. The final invitational will be back at Hayward High School (site of the NCS Championships) on October 21st for the Mariner Invitational before league, NCS and state championship races in November.
Kai Valle, Gabriel Cabral, Javin Schmitt, Jacob Demissie, Joaquin Tarango, Brandon Bosio, Luke Bradley
As usual, the runners themselves, along with most cross country prognosticators, expect the Panthers to figure prominently in these final three meets. Good luck to all the runners in this 2023 season!