Varsity runners face steep competition at Stanford Invitational

The men’s seeded race sprints onto the course at the Stanford Invitational on Sept. 26. The Blue Devil men placed fourth and the women took second.

By Abbey Fisk, Staff–

The Davis High varsity cross country squads raced at the Stanford Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 26, with the women losing only to Arcadia High School from Southern California, and the men finishing fourth in the most competitive meet so far in Northern California.

A strong one-two punch from senior Fiona O’Keeffe, who set a nation-leading 5k time of 16:32, and junior Sofia Castiglioni, who placed second in 17:33, led the Devils to a second place finish over the Apaches. O’Keeffe’s younger sister Olivia was the third Davis runner, finishing sixth in 18:00.

The men’s team huddles up before the race. The team was led by junior Michael Vernau, who took third in 15:05.

Junior Michael Vernau led the charge for the Blue Devil men, taking third in 15:05 and improving on his last year’s time by nearly a minute and a half. Senior Kellen Browning followed with a 24-second PR (personal record) and a time of 15:36, good for 20th place.

Seniors Nick Borowsky, Joe Blakewell and Wille Hall filled out the top five for the men, who improved on their fifth place finish last year at Stanford, but fell to Arcadia, Bellarmine and Sac-Joaquin Section rival Jesuit, which won the meet.

“The more competitive setting definitely helps us get faster times,” said Blakewell, who recorded a 22-second PR.

Even though some runners improved on their times from last year, Hall felt the team did not perform up to its full potential and thinks that the return of senior Ben Roberts, who is recovering from injury, will help the team improve.  

“We have a lot more up our sleeves,” Hall said.  

Coach Bill Gregg noted that Stanford was a good opportunity for the two teams to face better competition from around the state, and said the meet “illustrated what we need to work on.” 

Blakewell agreed.

“Stanford is always an exciting meet because we get to see some of the best competition in California for the first time in the season,” he said.

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