There is safety in numbers and, when the Davis High cross country teams head into the Sierra foothills for Sac-Joaquin Subsections on Saturday, Blue Devil coach Bill Gregg wants his harriers to take care of themselves.
“It’s about qualifying,” Gregg told The Enterprise. “Not really trying to win at this point. Varsity won’t run at full throttle … we’re trying not to show our cards to other folks.”
DHS has bigger fish to fry in the following week’s section finals, then the state meet three weeks later.
Subsections are what Gregg calls “a necessary evil” for a school of Davis’ running caliber — a glorified workout, if you will. The idea is to stay healthy and do well enough to reach the finals.
The up-and-down terrain at Frogtown, two miles south of Angels Camp, provides some challenges to maintaining that healthy body.
“There are a couple of pretty big uphills and a couple of nasty downhills,” longtime Devil mentor Gregg explains. “We do worry about somebody stumbling downhill and getting hurt … so the challenge is to stay safe.”
Both the girls and boys squads are expected to be among the favorites at sections Nov. 10 in Folsom.
Individually, Jack Scranton — fully recovered from a leg stress fracture — will try to repeat as section champion, while the girls have a handful of competitors who could finish high on the final leaderboard.
At Willow Hill in Folsom, Gregg thinks Scranton will be “among the top three” and will get plenty of DHS company with Paul Mohr and Sugal Sutter “not too far behind.” Gavin Monges, Jasper Laca and Brian Song (who is not running Saturday) will be important point-scoring participants.
Last year, the Blue Devils finished second to Oak Ridge, which snapped the boys’ string of seven consecutive section crowns.
Freshman sensation Fiona O’Keeffe will pace a talented Davis girls squad that features veterans Laney Teaford and Sophie Meads, emerging sophomore Maggie McManis, Giulia McIsaac, Laura Daggett and Danielle Gantar.
McManis has been, on occasion, in front of Teaford and Meads at the end, and Gregg praised Gantar for her recent efforts.
“We’re going to take a strategy to get all seven girls runners together as a pack,” Gregg said. “The expectation is we’ll have a good run … stay healthy.”
Utlimately, Gregg believes, the CIF banner will come down to St. Francis and DHS.
On the boys side, Woodcreek and Lincoln of Stockton are teams Gregg has his eye on, adding “Oak Ridge … kind of a mystery team at this point.”
Notes: Davis has eight boys titles. Its first individual champion was Luke Gibson (2000), but since then, Matt Petersen, Brendan Gregg, Trevor Halsted and Scranton have been individual winners. … Jesuit has 23 cross-country titles (counting 15 in Division II). … The girls have won 11 SJS crowns (two in D-II), their last pennant coming in 2008, which capped their own streak of seven straight titles.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.