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32nd South Bay Invitational:

Metro teams deliver power-packed performance

By Phillip Brents

Posted Sept. 28, 2005

The Bonita Vista Barons continued their climb toward the upper echelons of the San Diego Section by engineering a phenomenal second-place team finish at the 32nd South Bay Invitational Sept. 23 at Rohr Park. Still running without state qualifier Eric Avila, Bonita Vista finished 28 points behind division winner San Pasqual and 33 points ahead of prime Mesa League challenger Sweetwater (third place) and 46 points ahead of reigning South Bay League co-champion Otay Ranch (fourth place).

Junior Austin Jett paced the Barons on the 3.1-mile course with his seventh-place time of 16:30. He was second among Metro Conference individuals, trailing SuHi’s Azael Gomez (third) by 34 seconds. The big story, however, was the gap that was closed between Bonita Vista’s second, third, fourth and fifth runners. Chris Close crossed next after Jett, placing 14th in 16:51. A grand total of two seconds separated the Barons’ third and fifth runners — all of whom managed top 25 finishes in a field of 137 runners.

Mathew Seat finished 21st in 17:00, followed by Daniel Garcia in 22nd place with the same time and Eric Osuna in 23rd place in 17:02. The Barons’ five-man spread totaled 32 seconds, with the second- and fifth-place runner separated by just 11 seconds.

For good measure, Derek Groom (Bonita Vista’s sixth runner) finished 47th in 17:41, followed by David Garica in 73rd place in 18:20. Six of the seven Baron harriers finished in the top half of the race.

"Many people thought that without last year’s No. 1 runner, Eric Avila, our team would struggle to be competitive. But people forgot that Austin Jett was third in the league finals last year and we have six other young men who are working very hard to carry our team until Eric Avila returns," BV coach Jeff Phair said.

Phair said that while this year’s Barons boys team may not be the most physically gifted he has seen in his nine years of involvement with the Bonita Vista program, it may have a greater sense of team unity than any other previous squad.

The Barons also turned in a strong showing in the girls varsity race with their five scorers all finishing in the top half of the race, led by Brittni King’s 35th-place finish in 17:05.

Overall, the South County’s showing was exceptional this year. Metro Conference teams accounted for three of the top four teams in both the boys varsity and boys junior varsity fields. In a flash nothing short of brilliant, Otay Ranch won both the boys frosh/soph and boys junior varsity divisions while finishing fourth in the girls JV division.

Sweetwater (third) and Otay Ranch (fourth) joined Bonita Vista with top four team finishes in the boys varsity division. Sweetwater (third) and Bonita Vista (fourth) joined team champion Otay Ranch with top four finishes in the boys JV division.

The Barons’ showing in the boys varsity division was particularly impressive in that they finished 46 points ahead of the Mustangs, who had finished 105 points ahead of Bonita Vista at the season-opening Mustang Invitational. Sweetwater finished in third place 13 points ahead of Otay Ranch. Otay Ranch’s fourth-place finish in the division was of note in that the Mustangs nosed out perennial section power RBV by four points.

On an individual basis, South County runners took 11 of the top 23 place-finishing positions in the boys varsity division while placing 10 runners among the top 16 finishers in the boys JV division.

Sweetwater had two top 15 placers in the boys varsity division. Alan Gudino was 12th in 16:48 to complement the third-place finish by Gomez, who finished just five seconds off the winning time of RBV’s Jeree Henry and three seconds behind St. Augsustine’s Kyle Suarez.

Otay Ranch finished as the top South Bay League team in the boys varsity division. Ricky Pimentel was 13th in 16:50, followed by Ryan Matias in 19th place in 16:56. The Mustangs had four runners place among the top 31 finishers, five among the top 41 finishers and six among the top 48 finishers in the 137-deep field.

Rounding out the region’s top 20 place-finishers were Mar Vista’s Edgar Lopez (16th in 16:53) and Castle Park’s Edgar Medina (18th in 16:55).

Montgomery senior Chelsea Nicklen led conference finishers in the girls varsity race with a time of 16:11 for 2.5 miles. She finished 15th in the field of 131 runners. Sweetwater’s Karina Rios was 30th in 17:01, followed by Otay Ranch’s Jazmine Schoonmaker in 32nd place with the same time.

Hilltop’s Mike Magee won the boys frosh/soph race with a time of 17:22. Otay Ranch’s Brandon Velasquez (18:08), Leon Medina (18:08) and Cory Meza (18:18?) were third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Otay Ranch recorded three top five finishers in the 3.1-mile boys frosh/soph race and placed six runners among the top 18 finishers in the 154-deep field. Top finishers included Velasquez (third, 18:08), Medina (fourth, 18:08), Meza (fifth, 18:13), Abraham Castillo (11th, 18:59), Daniel Marsden (16th, 19:07) and Mark Pimentel (18th, 19:11).

As a team, the Mustangs finished 30 points ahead of runner-up West Hills and a whopping 72 points ahead of third-place Patrick Henry.

Otay Ranch’s team championship in the boys JV division was no less impressive. The Mustangs, with four of the top nine finishers, topped runner-up Rancho Buena Vista by 40 points and third-place Sweetwater by 60 points.

Ernesto Valdez was second among individuals in 17:52, followed by teammate Michael Limon in third place in 17:57. Amit Patel was fifth in 18:14, followed by Mark Hinojosa in ninth place and Andre Negron in 28th place in 19:29.

Otay Ranch finished as the top South County team in the girls JV race. Elizabeth Fausto led the Mustangs with a 16th-place finish in 18:30 for 2.5 miles.

Intercession left some key personnel on vacation but Eastlake still showed well. Rachel Naranjo (36th), Tania Andrade (37th), Heather Voigt (41st), Anette De La Rosa (47th) and Maria Lisa Crimi (53rd) all managed top-half finishes in the girls varsity field while Alex Oleata (47th) and Che Nevarez (53rd) keyed the boys team with top-half individual finishes in the boys varsity race.

The Metro Conference’s power-packed finish was not lost on Otay Ranch head coach Ian Cumming, who as one of the veteran coaches in the area, has seen a lot of running dynasties rise over the past couple decades.

"It was nice for our conference to run so well as a group. Add to the boys race how well the Bonita Vista girls ran along with some other individual girls and it was a good day for the Metro Conference," Cumming said. "Bonita Vista had a very strong day on both sides especially when you consider that Eric Avila is not racing yet and should be returning soon. They will be even tougher yet. Sweetwater also had a strong day. We ran a little off of where we have but still had a solid day."

Cumming called the Mustangs’ team championship performances in both the boys JV and frosh/soph races, a "reflection on our depth and the willingness of so many of our kids being willing to work very hard to make the team better."

"As a coaching staff, the fact that we have been fortunate to have so many talented student-athletes, boys and girls, who are willing to work hard, makes us very happy," Cumming said.

Sunny Hills Invitational

Otay Ranch’s early season success continued at the Sunny Hills Invitational on Sept. 17. The Mustangs captured the team title in the boys varsity division and placed second in the girls varsity division.

Daniel Marsden finished first among freshman boys with a time of 18:07 for 3.0 miles while Ricky Pimentel was first among junior boys in 16:39 and Marc Corrales was second among senior boys in 17:02. Brandon Velasquez was third among sophomore boys in 17:30, followed by teammate Cory Meza in fourth place in 17:45.

Jessi Tinsley won the girls senior varsity race in 21:27, also running 3.0 miles. Also among varsity runners, Jazmine Schoonmaker was second in the junior race in 21:14 while Tina Poole was fourth in the sophomore race in 23:03. Sofia Danielson was second in the freshman race in 23:03.