Paced by Holmes ninth-grader Fiona O’Keeffe, Davis High’s cross country girls finished fifth among California schools at the CIF state finals conducted Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno. The Blue Devil boys — with senior Jack Scranton’s 18th-place finish leading the way — ran home in 15th.
The girls’ placement was the best in the history of the Blue Devil female program.
“It was great individual effort,” DHS head coach Bill Gregg told The Enterprise of O’Keeffe’s 17:49 that resulted in a sixth-place individual finish. “I’m really happy we could finish at that high of a level. … It was quite an accomplishment.”
Great Oak of Temecula scored 57 points to capture the girls Division I crown. St. Francis, the Sac-Joaquin Section champion, finished second with 115. Squeezed between the top two and Davis (214) were Simi Valley (153) and Buchanan (181). The Devils had the ninth best combined time out of 113 teams in all five divisions.
The boys top five was Arcadia (53), California (127), Carlsbad (127), Vista Murrieta (147) and Long Beach Poly (161).
And the DHS boys — who won the Sac-Joaquin Section title for the ninth time — finished about where Gregg and the rankings experts predicted.
“Both the boys and girls ran right on our times for the courses, 2-3-4-5 runners grouped really well together. We didn’t hit any home runs (Saturday), but we were real solid,” the veteran coach explained.
After Scranton’s 15:36, Paul Mohr’s 16:18 was good for 91st overall as the senior was the second Devil across the finish line. Then came Brian Song (16:19) two spots back, Sugal Sutter (16:30) in 116th and Jasper Laca (16:31) in 120th. Gavin Monges (16:49) was 148th and Daniel Rowen was 161st with a 17:11 outing.
Simi Valley’s Sara Baxter earned the D-I girls gold medal with a course record of 16:39.7 (erasing the 16-year-old mark of 16:43 by Julia Stamps of Santa Rosa). It marked senior Baxter’s third state crown.
In the boys race, Juan Gonzalez (El Toro) and Estevan De La Rosa (Arcadia) hit the wire simultaneously and Gonzalez was given the nod 15:04.8 to 15:04.9.
From the framework of their sparkling team finishes, the Blue Devil stories of the day were with O’Keeffe and Scranton.
The local freshman said her debut season has been “amazing,” with O’Keeffe adding that she’s “pleasantly surprised how … supportive the atmosphere” of DHS cross country has been:
“Whenever somebody had a bad day, we all (are) there for each other. Laney Teaford and Sophie Meads were really welcoming to me.”
Speaking of Teaford, the senior distance runner ran a 19:01, good for 65th overall and the second-best Davis finish. Sophomore Guilia McIsaac (19:06) was 69th, junior Sophie Meads (19:08) and sophomore Maggie McManis (19:10) came home 75th and 76th, while Laura Daggett was 123rd in 19:46. Junior Danielle Gantar took 153rd with her time of 20:24.
Gregg praised Teaford’s effort as a terrific comeback after a tough section race, in which she ran 19:40 and finished in 18th place. The Devils were second at the SJS finals two weeks ago.
Teaford shaved 39 seconds off the 5,000-meter distance against 200 of the best runners from Mexico to Oregon.
Scranton had a nightmare of a three months leading out of spring track season into this fall’s cross-country successes.
First, a leg stress fracture took the two-time CIF title winner out of the prep track-and-field championships in May. Then, on the second day he was cleared to begin working out again, Scranton took a tumble on his bicycle — breaking both his wrists.
The personable runner said “winning at sections for the second year was really huge … special.” Also memorable for Scranton was the team’s SJS title and taking first individually at the Stanford Invitational.
But Scranton said this state meet was bittersweet and he believes his distance Devils have something left in the tank, even though Scranton’s 15:36 personal best duplicated his effort at Clovis earlier this season.
“We tried our hardest,” Scranton explained. “Now we have something to carry on to track season … and be inspired by.
“I’m just a little disappointed because I wanted to run even better, but, looking back, I thought I had a great season.”
Notes: O’Keeffe’s 17:49 was the second-best female freshman time across all divisions. Granite Bay’s Maggie Bell went 17:29 to capture the D-II title. … Gregg couldn’t say enough about Scranton’s incredible fall journey, the initial injury and the setback on the bike: “He’s a really, really hard worker with a tremendous amount of ability. He came all the way back from a pretty rough injury.” … The top two girls teams — Great Oak and St. Francis — qualified for next weekend’s Nike Cross Nationals. The Troubadours set a Northern California team course record with its combined time of 92:40.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047