Following a string of build-up meets used as more of a training ground, the San Luis Obispo High cross country team approached Thursday as its first true test.
The Tigers didn’t disappoint, sweeping the boys and girls team and individual titles at the annual San Luis Obispo County Meet held at the 5K Laguna Lake Park course.
“I’m extremely happy,” San Luis Obispo coach Steve Boaz said. “I didn’t expect results on this level, but this is our first race that we felt really mattered.
“I think they were a little tentative about going after it, but once they got into it, their fitness really showed. They’ve worked hard for over a year and have really elevated the level of the program.”
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Seamus Land and Christine Hoffmann, both juniors, won the boys and girls races, respectively, in 16 minutes, 6 seconds, and 18:38.
On the girls side, the Tigers won with 31 points, followed by Arroyo Grande (89), Paso Robles (94), Mission Prep (97), Atascadero (131), Morro Bay (148), Templeton (196) and Nipomo (259).
San Luis Obispo’s boys squad finished with 28 points, followed by Arroyo Grande’s 47, Paso Robles’ 58, Atascadero’s 110, Morro Bay’s 149, Mission Prep’s 208, Templeton’s 235, Nipomo’s 387 and Coast Union’s 447.
“It’s pretty big, but this isn’t what our season’s all about,” Hoffmann said, alluding to the Tigers’ postseason aspirations. “We trained a lot this summer, and we’re all feeling a lot stronger and a lot faster.”
Behind Hoffmann, San Luis Obispo, ranked No. 8 in Division 3 of the CIF-Southern Section, also got top-10 contributions from Kathleen Uyttewaal (who came in fourth at 19:05), Micayla Rennick (fifth, 19:11) and Madeleine LaVack (ninth, 20:11).
For Hoffmann, the win came over the two consensus favorites coming in, Templeton’s Savannah Camacho and Mission Prep’s Annie Mooney. Last year, Mooney won the race in 18:59, with Camacho second at 19:07.
“I wasn’t coming here to beat them,” Hoffmann said. “I’ve always looked up to them.”
Mooney was second Thursday in 18:44, followed by Camacho in third at 18:53.
Camacho took second at the CIF State Track and Field Championships in the 800 meters last year at 2:07.73, the fifth-fastest time in that event nationally. By the end of September, Camacho had won at all five cross country venues she had competed in.
Not to be outdone, Mooney won the Stanford Invitational Division 5 race earlier this year in 18:17 and the Cal Poly Invitational in 19:24.1. She was third at the state Division 5 championships a year ago, and was second as both a sophomore and freshman.
The boys field, on the other hand, appeared more wide-open coming in, as the top three at last year’s race all were seniors.“I’ve been looking forward to this race for a while,” Land said. “I had a lot of confidence with my teammates right next to me and felt like we definitely had a good chance.”
Land was trailed in the top 10 by teammates Brayden Schmidt (in second at 16:30), Luke Kraemer (fifth, 16:41) and Stephen Kasper (eighth, 16:59).
“Near the last straightaway,” Land said, “I put the thought of someone passing me out of my mind and was just going for time.”
Land also won the 3-mile Ojai Invitational in mid-September in 16:07.61.
“Now that races really matter, we’re letting him loose a little bit,” Boaz said.
Zander Sousa of Paso Robles took third at 16:38, while Arroyo Grande’s Trevor Cowan finished fourth in 16:41.