Atascadero High graduate Devon Kelsey led Cuesta College’s women’s cross country team Saturday to what is believed to be its best performance ever at the California state meet at Woodward Park in Fresno.
Kelsey finished the women’s 5K individual race second in 18 minutes, 1 second and her runner-up finish to Glendale’s Karen Rosas led the Cougars to a fourth-place finish in the team standings.
Rosas’ individual win in 18:00 led Glendale to the team title with 30 points. Orange Coast was second with 115, Mt. San Antonio College was third at 123, Cuesta was fourth at 147 and Antelope Valley was fifth at 149.
In the men’s team race, the Cougars placed 12th with 361 points, 19 more than 11th-place Cuyamaca and one less than 13th-place Hartnell.
Cuesta head coach Brian Locher said the highest the Cougars had finished at the state meet in the past 15 years was eighth, and he believes the highest finish in school history in the past 30 years was a fifth-place performance.
The state meet was a crowning achievement for Kelsey, who had been undefeated against Western State Conference runners this season until she slipped to third at the WSC meet. But she rebounded at state.
“The girl from Glendale had run consistently well all season and had beaten Devon every time they had raced,” Locher said. “We had a lot of confidence in Devon because she’s got a lot of speed. We had her go out fairly conservatively and run with the first five girls. The girl from Glendale just took off and we waited until the last 400 meters for Devon to make her move. (Rosas) had a good 50-meter gap on Devon in the last 400 meters and she almost got her at the (finish) line. (Kelsey) was about a half-second back. It was exciting.”
Kelsey is the second Cuesta runner to finish second at state in the past three years, joining Kelly Barmann, who finished second at the 2009 meet, also to a woman from Glendale.
The Cougars placed three women in the top 20 for the first time at state as Corinne Evans finished 14th in 19:02, and Templeton High grad Kasey Urman was 18th in 19:12. The biggest surprise of the meet for Cuesta was probably Evans, who finished 17th at the WSC meet.
“Evans has been fantastic for us,” Locher said. “She’s a former elite gymnast who had never run more than two or three times a week before the season. She’s got a phenomenal amount of talent and has really come alive the past couple of races. She’s starting to figure out what cross country is all about and her learning curve has been really quick.”
Locher was also pleased with Urman, who took nearly 40 seconds off her state meet time from a year ago.
Urman’s former high school teammate, Paul Denlinger, was Cuesta’s top finisher in the men’s 4-mile race in 20:49, finishing in 22nd place. Teammates Tyler Gates (21:22) and Chris Gobell (21:54) were 53rd and 87th, respectively.
“I thought the guys had a sold race, they ran about how I thought they would,” Locher said. “I thought we had an outside shot at the top 10 and I didn’t think we would be below 12th and that’s where we placed and we’re happy with that. The highest the guys had ever finished was 11th last year so we’re really stoked about that.”
The Cougars joined Glendale, L.A. Trade Tech and Orange Coast as the only schools with a men’s and a women’s team in the top 12.
Cuesta 84, Reedley 60
Katie Rodriguez paced the Cougars (3-2) offensively and defensively, as Cuesta played its fifth game in seven days.
Rodriguez had team highs with 20 points, nine assists and five steals. The Cougars turned a 43-34 halftime lead into a 24-point blowout behind Rodriguez’s play.
Kati Sheldon had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Aria Johnson barely missed a double-double with 19 points and nine rebounds, and Anika Bauermeister had 18 points.
Cal State Northridge 3, Cal Poly 0
In a disappointing end to the season, Cal Poly (12-17, 7-9) was swept 25-17, 25-21, 25-19 by the Matadors (15-13, 9-7) in a Big West Conference match.
Jennifer Keddy starred in the losing effort, posting a double-double with a game-high 16 kills and 11 digs. The Mustangs finish the season tied for sixth place in the Big West.
Cal Poly did not lead in the first or third sets. Its biggest lead of any set was 5-3 in the second set.
Sarah Cawrse led Cal Poly with 20 assists. Catie Smith had 10 digs, and Molly Pon had seven kills and six digs.