Cross Country 2017
Seniors The Story @ Farmer Invitational
September 16th, 2017
Youth and potential grabbed the headlines for the Panthers cross country teams in the first two weeks of the season. However, while those talented youths continued to shine in week 3, experience and veteran leadership were what led the team at the Farmer Invitational. Senior captains Sasha Polataev and Genevieve Wiley were the top finishers for the Panthers, each claiming the runner-up spot in their respective races.
“Both Sasha, Genevieve and all the other upper-classmen ran excellent races today,” said girls head coach Denis Mohun. “Our captains moved up steadily throughout the race and each of them ran tough. It’s really great for them but also really great for the other kids on our team to see that kind of effort.”
Two other seniors, Ben Jaffe (3rd overall) and Katie Woelffer (13th)….. along with juniors Zander Lieske (5th), Max Emerling (9th), Matthew Rosenberg (18th), and Maddie Daganzo (23rd) also ran solid races that earned them top 25 medals.
The underclassmen, mostly racing in grade-level races and many racing in their first ever race, continued to perform admirably. Sophomores Lauren Goode, Hannah Cornejo and Wiona Tan all finished in the top 15 in their race…. finishing 8th, 10th and 15th respectively. Another sophomore, Zack Deering-Haddix, finished 15th in the sophomore boys race to claim a well-deserved medal. Freshman teammate Zax Lieske also walked away with a piece if hardware, earning his medal with his 22nd place finish.
The freshmen girls completed the medal haul with three runners claiming prizes…. top finisher Olivia Lawson (6th)… followed by Simone Rogers (12th) and Eliza Pease (14th).
“I thought our athletes ran well today,” said coach Jeff Rogers after the meet. “Many took home medals and most ran personal best times. Also, many of our runners were running their first ever race and I was proud that they got out there… managed their emotions… and competed. Josh York, Matteo, Gabe, Frankie, Kernie, Waverly, Nia, Josh Tibay…. they were all running for the first time…. which brings with it a whole set of challenges. In the end, they gutted it out and did a nice job.”
The Panthers won’t be back in action until Wednesday, October 4th when they open the TCAL season against St. Patrick’s – St. Vincent’s, Pinole Valley and Hercules. The meet will be at St. Patrick’s High School in Benicia.
No Experience… No Problem for Panthers at Ed Sias
September 9th, 2017
The Saint Mary’s Cross Country team officially opened the 2017 season at the 33rd annual Ed Sias Invitational at Hidden Valley Park in Martinez. This second Saturday in September also happened to coincide with the first offering of this year’s SAT exam. Thus, most of the team’s upper classmen were battling analytic reasoning questions instead of steep hills. Still, the young, mostly inexperienced group that did compete at Ed Sias did so with ferocity, determination and grit.
“Both JV groups had outstanding races today,” said first year coach Rob Riccardi. “I remember running this race in high school and it’s tough. The course is not easy and the competition is top notch. So for our runners to come out and compete the way they did is gratifying. They did a good job.”
Leading the way were the JV girls. Their 6th place team finish was highlighted by the day’s top performer: Olivia Lawson. Following an impressive time trial run a week ago, Olivia battled her way to a 12th place finish and the fastest time by any of the Lady Panthers on the hot, hilly course. Following Olivia were the tightly bunched pack of Wiona Tan, Hannah Cornejo, Eliza Pease, and Simone Rogers… all of whom finished within 7 seconds of one another. Sophomore Lauren Goode completed the talented JV squad.
Coach Craig Sutphin’s JV Boys squad also battled their way to a top 10 finish. Sophomore Zach Deering-Haddix led the way… running the 2nd fastest time of the day for all Panther runners at 12:24. He finished 22nd overall. After Zach was top freshman Zax Lieske at 13:00. Following Zax were teammates Coby Fan, and freshmen first-timers Dante Fadelli, Zach York and Josh Tibay. Sophomore Owen Jump rounded out the squad for Saint Mary’s.
Both boys and girls ran incomplete varsity teams on Saturday… the boys lining up 4 runners and the girls 3. Senior Ben Jaffe was the top finisher at 12:02… which was a mere :02 behind coach Rob Riccardi who ran 12:00 in the coaches race under cool 8:30 am skies.
Panthers Preview Young Talent at 19th Annual Time Trial
August 30th, 2017
Fresh faces, fast times, and youthful exuberance were on display at the 19th annual time trial… run on a winding, rolling 1.90 mile course in Tilden Park. Leading this year’s group were a pair of seniors running their final time on the historic course – Sasha Polataev and Genevieve Wiley. Sasha was the day’s fastest runner, clocking a personal best 11:10. Genevieve, meanwhile, also began her final campaign with a big PR…finishing as the school’s 7th fastest senior of all-time in 13:09.
Following Sasha were junior Zander Leiske (11:33) and fellow senior Ben Jaffe (11:41). Each recorded lifetime bests… with Ben running an impressive 1:42 faster than last year’s time. Freshman Zax Lieske made his presence felt…. finishing in 12:49 which earned him a top 20 all-time ranking. Juniors Max Emerling, Matthew Rosenberg and Nic Lauxman finished next… with the former two recording all-time bests. Freshmen Dante Fadelli and Kernie Sadausky along with sophomores Coby Fan and Owen Jump also had excellent races according to coach Rob Riccardi after the race.
For the girls, after Genevieve finished the day’s top performer… freshman Olivia Lawson. After a solid first half of the race, Olivia battled and fought her way to an impressive #4 all-time finish. Her 13:39 time as a freshman has only been exceeded by current UNLV star Spencer Moore, Junior Olympian Kara Anderson, and All-TCAL veteran Julia English. Quite an accomplishment for Olivia! After Olivia, another freshman – Nan Weemer – ran her way to the 9th fastest freshman time ever. One other freshman, Simone Rogers, added her name to the all-time list…finishing in 15:02 which was good for 13th all-time. Senior co-captain Katie Woelffer finished her final time trial with her best time at 14:45. Sophomores Lauren Goode, Hannah Cornejo, Wiona Tan and Meena Yasmil all recorded lifetime bests… with Hannah and Wiona each running more than two minutes faster than they did last year!
“In all, it was nice to get a preview of where we are at this point,” said girls head coach Denis Mohun. “I was impressed with some of our freshmen and sophomores… they really laid it out there today. I also liked some of the leadership and grit showed by our seniors. As a staff, we hope that our team can build some momentum from today.”
Next up for the Panthers will be the Monte Vista Invitational on Tuesday September 5th in Danville.
2017 Season Preview
August 21st, 2017
“Our success this (2017) cross country season will be largely determined by the commitment and improvement of our young, relatively inexperienced runners,” says longtime coach Denis Mohun. Those sentiments, reiterated and supported by other members of the coaching staff, seem to be the prevailing prognostications as the season nears.
The girls team will be undoubtedly buoyed by seniors Genevieve Wiley and Katie Woelffer. Genevieve returns as the teams lone varsity all-league performer from a year ago and is looking to compete at the very top of the TCAL. “If her summer training is any indication,” says coach Mohun, “Gen is priming herself to make a run at the TCAL crown this year.” Katie, along with Genevieve will serve as the team’s co-captain, will also look to build on her solid 2016 season. Her summer, like Genevieve’s, suggest that her contribution will be invaluable. Still, the ultimate success of this year’s team will lie in the legs and lungs of the underclassmen. Juniors Anya Van Noord and Jazmine Newson will provide some experience, while sophomores Lauren Goode, Hannah Cornejo and Wiona Tan will contribute their talents after all experiencing solid inaugural campaigns in 2016. Each of these girls has the talent to be upper-echelon TCAL performers, but as Coach Mohun reminds us, “talent is but the primer in cross country. Nothing beats hard-work and dedication. Nothing.”
For the boys, senior captain Sasha Polataev will lead a team whose members are, like the girls, talented but inexperienced. Sasha’s contributions will be vast and relied upon. Fortunately, he seems to be right on track. “Sasha’s summer has been truly outstanding,” says longtime boys varsity coach Jeff Rogers. “It’s quite obvious that he’s caught the running bug and it’s exciting to see it. I expect Sasha will have an impressive senior season.”
Joining Sasha will be fellow senior Ben Jaffe, whose dedication and improvement have been a huge boost to the culture of the team. Ben’s been “a huge inspiration to everyone in our program,” according to coach Rogers…. runners and coached alike. Juniors Zander Lieske and Max Emerling will also try and make their presence known, each entering their 2nd varsity season.
In sum, the 2017 season needs youthful exuberance and talent to meet hard-work, commitment and determination. Fueled by a motivated coaching staff and several veteran runners, the hope is that those ingredients will mesh and the results will show themselves in November.