Varsity runners encounter setbacks at Stanford

Senior Abbey Fisk and Junior Olivia O’Keefe run together at the Stanford invitational. (Courtesy: C. Gregg)

By Jamie Moddelmog, Staff–

The Davis High cross country team sent its top 7 girls and top 7 boys to the Stanford golf course in Palo Alto for the annual Stanford Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 1. Teams from all over the state showed up to the elite meet, and the Davis runners faced heavy competition.

The men’s team finished 17th out of a field of 24 with the cross country powerhouse Great Oak taking first.

Senior Michael Vernau, Davis’ No. 1 runner finished in second place behind senior Cooper Teare of St. Joseph Notre Dame High in Alameda.

“I would’ve liked to come away with the W but I wasn’t unhappy with [my race],” Vernau said.

Vernau ran the fastest 5k time of his running career, coming in at 14:48 and running a 4:46 mile pace. His competition, Teare, also ran his fastest 5k time, finishing 9 seconds in front of Vernau.

“My strategy was to try and burn Cooper from the gun and run the kick out of him,” Vernau said, “but I didn’t press hard enough for that strategy to work.”

The other six members of the varsity team came in almost two minutes after Vernau, starting with junior Sam Blakewell (16:36), senior Jackson Laird (16:37) and sophomores Erick Lengtat (16:40), Kobe Standefer (16:44) and Bryce Gregg (16:47), followed by senior Fox Conner (17:09).

Senior Michael Vernau paces with Cooper Teare of St. Joseph Notre Dame High School. (Courtesy: C. Gregg)

The team lost to Jesuit, its Delta League rival, by 211 points but the Blue Devils still aim to have a strong showing in the Section championships this November and make it to the state meet.

“I think the team has a good shot of making states if they keep working hard together,” Vernau said.

In the women’s race, DHS placed high as expected, but fell to Great Oak by 22 points. The women’s team was led by senior Sofia Castiglioni, who finished in sixth at 17:36. Even with the high-place finish, Castiglioni felt disappointed in her race.

“I would’ve liked to finish in the 17:20’s but instead ended up adding 3 seconds to last year’s time,” she said.

Castiglioni was followed by junior Olivia O’Keefe who ran her fastest 5k time on the course, finishing in 17:43. Eight seconds behind O’Keefe was sophomore Sophia Lodigiani (17:51), who also set a personal record at the meet.

Sophomore Ruthie Mitchell (18:30) and senior Abigail Fisk (18:33) rounded out the top five for Davis.

Fisk said she had trouble during the race, reporting blurry vision and dizziness which caused her to have to slow down.

“My race was going well, I was with Olivia until the last 600 (meters) about, we were gaining on some Great Oak girls, and I think we even passed a few, and then something changed. I […] slowed way down and couldn’t make myself go faster,” Fisk said. “I managed to finish the race but I should’ve been able to finish stronger.”

Fisk was followed by sophomore Annie Mitchell (18:41) and junior Sage Taylor (20:09), Davis’ 6th and 7th runners.

Although they encountered some setbacks, the varsity women still placed well among national competition and got important experience racing against their rivals at Great Oak, who they hope to defeat in the state championships this November, claiming the title of state champions they narrowly lost to Great Oak last year.

“We learned the Great Oak pack runs very well, and we are going to continue to work hard at practice to put more runners in front of their pack,” Castiglioni said. “I don’t think placing second to them diminishes our chances of beating them at the state meet because Coach Bill designs our workouts so that we peak in states in late November.”

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