In what has become an annual ritual of sorts, the Scotts Valley High and San Lorenzo Valley High Cross Country teams traveled south to Fresno last weekend to compete in the 2015 California Interscholastic Federation State Championships. For Scotts Valley Head Coach Doug Chase and Cougars’ Head Coaches Rob Collins & Thea Jorgensen, the drive south has become almost as familiar as cruising down Mount Hermon Road, except for the tule fog.

This year, the Scotts Valley Girls’ and SLV Girls’ teams, along with SLV Boys’ team, all qualified for the state meet held at Fresno’s WoodwardPark. The Scotts Valley Boys were represented by senior team co-captain John Ross, who ran as an individual. The Falcons’ boys’ team just missed qualifying for the state meet by two seconds, illustrating how painfully time-sensitive this sport can be.

Both schools have a rich and storied history competing at the state meet. The SLV Lady Cougars have five state team championships under their belts (1999-2000 competing in Division III and 2004-2005 and 2013 competing in Division IV). The Cougars still hold the all-time Division IV Girls’ top team time of 94:13 set in 2013.

Individually, the Cougars have three former state champions; Alejandra Barrientos (Girls’ Division III) in 1999, Alex Dunn (Boys’ Division III) in 2002 and Anna Maxwell (Girls’ Division IV) in 2013. Maxwell, now running cross country at the University of Washington, holds the all-time Division IV Girls’ top individual time of 17:08 set in 2013.

For ScottsValley, Vanessa Fraser, who is currently running cross country at Stanford, won two state titles in 2011 and 2012.

With hundreds of runners representing dozens of schools within five divisions based on enrollment, the Lady Falcons and Cougars, both competing in Division IV, began their respective quests at exactly 9:05 a.m. on the chilly 5K (3.1 mile) course. For both teams, this was the sixth consecutive year each has qualified for the state meet. Led by Junior Abbey Meck, the Cougars finished fourth in the state in the overall team standings. Scotts Valley Falcons, with freshman Jessica Kain leading the way, finished 18th overall.

Besides Meck, who placed sixth individually in 17:58, the additional Cougar runners included sophomore Sophie Zachau (19:26), sophomore Grace Brock (19:32), junior Carolina Moreno Guzman (19:37), sophomore Hannah Sandles (19:52), senior Nicole Roth (20:01) and sophomore Katie Lamb (21.37).

For ScottsValley, Kain finished 20th overall in 18:33.  The additional Falcon runners included senior Annika Osterkamp (20:20), junior Kaylee Craft (20:34), senior and team co-captain Mikaela Inman (20:43), freshman Kelly McEntee (21:19), senior Maddy Barton (21:30) and sophomore Olivia Ross (21:50).

As the Division IV Boys’ race began, seven Cougars and a Falcon were off and running. For Scotts Valley’s Ross, this was a return trip, having finished ninth in last year’s state finals, helping the Falcons to a third place team finish, the best ever for the Falcons. The overall team time of 81:32 ranks as the ninth best all-time in state meet history. Ross finished 20th in this years’ race with a time of 16:03.

SLV Freshman Chris Anderson set the pace for the Cougar boys, finishing 22nd overall in a time of 16:04. Along with fellow teammates Bobby Munoz (16:25), Ian Gallagher (16:57), Ross MacMillan (17:20), Kevin Clark (17:34), Anthony Campbell (18:12) and Mario Kuntze (18:25), San Lorenzo Valley finished 14th overall in the team standings.

With both schools returning a solid core of runners next year, look for the annual road trip to Fresno to continue.

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