HAYWARD — The coaches of the Maria Carrillo and Casa Grande cross country teams were hoping their kids could pull off a rare feat at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions — a one-two finish for the North Bay League in both boys and girls divisions.
They came pretty close, too. The Carrillo boys and girls both claimed section titles in Division 2 on Saturday. The Casa boys finished second, and the girls were third, just nine points behind second-place Alameda.
The bad news for the Redwood Empire: Just one other team, the Piner boys, will be joining all those Pumas and Gauchos at the CIF State Cross Country Championships in Fresno next Saturday.
"I'm feeling really confident," Maria Carrillo senior Ryan Anderson said. "I think we're probably going to run our team's fastest time there. We're looking to get into the top 10."
The only local individual champion at Hayward High was Piner's Efren Reyes, who scorched the Division 4 competition with a 14-second victory, finishing in 15:39.
Local runners who qualified for state individually included Santa Rosa sophomore Delaney White, Petaluma sophomore Madison Parratt, Mendocino senior Erin Thomas and Sonoma Academy sophomore Alyssa Goody among the girls, and Petaluma senior Casey Kramer, Windsor senior Zach Price, Sonoma Academy senior Patrick Loftus, and El Molino junior Brady Lane and freshman Brian Schulz among the boys.
Now Brian, who finished fifth in the Division 4 race with a time of 15:58 on Saturday, is headed to Fresno — and he won't even have to sneak in.
The individual performance of the day probably belonged to Anderson. He couldn't keep up with a late kick by Livermore's Tyler Olson, but easily took second place in Division 2. It was a blistering race, and Anderson's time, 15:06, was the third fastest ever by an Empire runner at Hayward, three seconds behind Piner's Luis Luna in 2011, and two seconds behind Petaluma's Sterling Lockert in 2008.
Carrillo coach Greg Fogg likes Anderson's chances at the CIF meet.
"The difference between this and state is that at state, you have to go out 10 seconds faster at the mile mark," Fogg said. "The energy of the race just demands it. I think Ryan is strong enough to do that."
Then again, maybe senior Shaz Breedlove was the standout Puma. She has been of the area's top distance runners for a couple years, but until Saturday, she had gotten used to finishing second to White, the Santa Rosa thoroughbred. Breedlove felt she was narrowing the gap, and quietly made it her goal to unseat White.
Breedlove edged past her quarry in the final mile and finished second in the Division 2 race at 18:30. White was third, four seconds behind her.
"I just wanted to beat her," Breedlove said, calling White a great runner. "I just wanted to beat her, because she always wins. I don't know, maybe have a new person in first from our area."
White, who missed the Meet of Champions with an injury as a freshman, didn't sound ready to call this a personal rivalry.