FOLSOM — The heavily favored Davis High cross country team set up camp right next to Oak Ridge Saturday morning as both programs prepared for a day of racing in the Sac-Joaquin Section Meet at Willow Hills in Folsom.
And when the Division I boys race was over, the Blue Devils had a ringside seat and watched in disbelief as the Trojans erupted in surprise and joy after finding out they had won their first ever section championship by a single point, 50-51, over Davis, ending the Blue Devils’ string of seven straight section titles.
The victory erased a season of doubt. “There was a time at the beginning of the season when we didn’t think we get to state,” said Josh Ruff, a former Trojan runner who is now an assistant coach.
“They went bananas,” Troy’s head coach Rob Fairley said, describing the team effort. “Our sixth guy, Jake Zeltner, displaced two Davis runners at the end — that was the difference. And Marcos (Conde) — Marcos took off in the last half mile and picked off about 10 runners — some Davis runners.”
Junior Dusty Armstrong led the Trojans. He finished third and the only senior on the team, Sean McHone, was right behind in fifth. Sophomore Ryan Prestegard came in 11th, followed by junior Evan Baxter in 14th, Conde in 17th and Zeltner, 2oth.
“The race started slow but then we picked it up,” Armstrong said, talking about the race before he knew the team had won. “We ran as a really tight pack today. I think we ran well overall — ran as a team like we are supposed to.”
The varsity boys’ win came on the heels of a second-place finish turned in by the Oak Ridge girls varsity team and an amazing first from the sophomore boys.
“The sophomore team lost to Davis by 20 points last week at sub-sections and beat them by 19 today. That’s a huge swing. The top five all were in the top 10,” Fairley said.
Running without one of their top runners, Trojan underclasmen stepped up to lead the girls team. Freshman Ellie Velez took seventh, followed by sophomore Rachel Peterson in second.
“I planned not to go out to fast and then pick up the tempo,” Velez said. “It went pretty much as I wanted although the race went out faster than usual.”
After senior Maxine Goyette hit the chute in 11th place, two more freshmen came in — Sabrina Andrus, in her first year of running, took 16th, and Maddie Dezordo was 23rd.
“I call Sabrina ‘Nails,’ Fairley said. “She’s an incredibly hard worker, as tough as they come. I’m elated with the girls team’s effort.”
The top two boys and girls teams from Division I advance meaning both Oak Ridge squads will board the bus to Fresno for the CIF State Meet at Woodward Park Nov. 26.
Four boys teams and three girls teams qualified for the state meet in Division II. Ponderosa will send one runner, senior Riley Ruppenthal, who took eighth and was the second individual qualifier not on a team. The young Bruin team finished ninth.
Ruppenthal, who had surgery in March and rehabbed all summer, had hoped to be the section champion.
“I ran a PR 16 minutes flat here last year and tied for third but I’m still out of shape and I couldn’t keep pace with the front runners. My legs just aren’t ready yet but I’m happy I can run again,” Ruppenthal said.
It was disappointment all around for the Bruin girls team. The Bruins’ Christine Redor came in ninth but her name was inadvertantly omitted from the list of finishers which skewed the final team standings.
Once corrections were made, Ponderosa came in fourth, missing a state berth by one place. Bella Vista, the team the Bruins knocked out last year, took third to qualify.
“I guess they got us back,” Ponderosa coach Karen Norwood. “Several of our juniors who are first year cross country runners really came on at the end so I’m pleased. It’s been an awesome year even with the injuries whcih can set back the best teams. We had big improvements from nearly everyone.”
In another unusual turn of events, none of the top five runners in the D-II race were part of a qualifying team, eliminating Redor despite her top 10 finish.
“I had better mental preparation today — I didn’t focus on doubts,” Christine said. “Overall, I was happy. It was a learning experience and a good race.”
Freshman Hannah O’Donnell, the third Bruin to finish, said, “I just wanted to pass as many Bella Vista girls as I could.”
Results for El Dorado County’s Division I and II teams are listed below. Results from Divisions III, IV and V will be in a separate article.
Varsity boys: Oak Ridge, 50; Davis 51
3-Dusty Armstrong, 16:35; 5-Sean McHone, 16:39; 11-Ryan Prestegard, 16:53; 14-Evan Baxter, 16:59; 17-Marcus Conde, 17:04; 20-Jake Zeltner, 17:09; 40-Zach Thornton, 18:02.
Varsity girls: St. Francis, 31; Oak Ridge, 65
7-Ellie Velez, 19:51; 8-Rachel Peterson, 19:57; 11-Maxine Goyette, 20:10; 16-Sabrina Andrus, 20:35; 23-Maddie Dezordo, 20:56; 25-Holli Arrieta, 21:07; 38-Taylor Ashby, 22:17.
Sophomore boys: 1-Oak Ridge, 27
2-Jordan Hordesky, 11:49; 3-JT Janecek, 11:53; 5-Colin Pilcher, 11:57; 8-Alex Merry, 12:04; 9-Brett Ford, 12:05; 12-Nick Campanello, 12:09; 21-Bret McNamee, 12:41.
Frosh/soph girls: 4-Oak Ridge, 89
9-Sami Kilcollins, 13:58; 11-Whitney Wilhelmy, 14:00; 14-Femke Keukenkamp, 14:16; 27-Mindy Ong, 15:01; 28-Aishani Kumar, 15:01; 30-Alison Bamford, 15:04; 32-Lauren Martinez, 15:14.
JV girls: Abby Walker, 22:51.
Varsity boys: 9-Ponderosa, 230
7-Riley Ruppenthal, 16:36; 50-Nicholas Prete, 18:09; 52-Josh Bolier, 18:19; 54-TJ Holloway, 18:20; 67-Lee Skinner, 18:44; 68-Charles Hedin, 19:36; 69-Marcus Nunley, 20:27.
Varsity girls: 4-Ponderosa, 126
9-Christine Redor, 19:57; 12-Brittany Anselmo, 20:16; 22-Hannah O’Donnell, 20:43; 39-Brooke Ruppenthal, 21:49; 40-Ashley Silveira, 21:51; 59-Emily Hoffman, 24:06; 60-Kayla Rush, 24:10.