High School Sports

San Luis Obispo sweeps at PAC 7 cross country finals

dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The San Luis Obispo High cross country team is hitting its stride at just the right time.

A week after sweeping the boys and girls individual and team titles at the San Luis Obispo County Meet, the Tigers did the same Thursday afternoon at the PAC 7 League Finals held at 5K Fairbanks Memorial Course next to Cuesta College.

On the boys side, San Luis Obispo won with 30 points, led by Seamus Land’s first-place time of 16 minutes, 27 seconds. The Tigers’ girls squad also won with 30 points, paced by Kathleen Uyttewaal’s winning time of 19:18.

Land praised San Luis Obispo coach Steve Boaz for “the way he has the season set up, because he calls each (early-season) race a practice meet until we get to the league races — even important ones like the Stanford Invitational.

“We each learn how to run our own races and how to run better together and individually. (Boaz) has the season all planned out for us to be peaking at the right time.”

At the start of this week, San Luis Obispo’s girls were ranked No. 7 in Division 3 of the CIF-Southern Section, with the boys ranked 12th.

The divisional prelims are Nov. 13 at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, followed by the finals at the same site Nov. 20, leading up to the overall state championships on Nov. 27 at Woodward Park in Fresno.

The Tigers are aiming to send both their boys and girls squads to the state meet in the same year for the first time since 1988.

On Thursday, amidst 90-degree temperatures, San Luis Obispo’s boys swept the first three spots individually, as Luke Kraemer was second in 16:46 and Brayden Schmidt finished third in 16:53.

“This race, I think we came together,” Land said.

Arroyo Grande’s Trevor Cowan rounded out the top five at 16:58. Other county competitors also in the boys top 10 were Joshua Davis (seventh at 17:08) and Jonathon Corley (eighth, 17:18), each of Arroyo Grande; Atascadero’s Jacob Schwarm (ninth, 17:20); and San Luis Obispo’s Stephen Kasper (10th, 17:25).

Arroyo Grande’s boys were second as a team with 60 points, trailed by Righetti (75), Paso Robles (90), Atascadero (97), St. Joseph (175) and Pioneer Valley (178). In the end-of-the-season league standings, the Tigers won with 18 points, followed by Arroyo Grande (14), Paso Robles and Righetti (11 apiece), Atascadero (six), St. Joseph (three) and Pioneer Valley (zero).

Emily Johnston of Arroyo Grande was second in the girls race at 19:30, eight seconds ahead of San Luis Obispo’s Christine Hoffmann, a junior who won last week’s county meet.

Also in the girls top 10 were Atascadero’s Meriel Bench (fifth in 20:10) and Jillian McLenithan (10th, 21:09); San Luis Obispo’s Micayla Rennick (sixth, 20:48) and Mariah Grady (ninth, 21:06); Paso Robles’ Maddy Cline (seventh, 20:51) and Arroyo Grande’s Hannah Stevens (eighth, 21:01).

The Tigers’ league-champion 17 overall season-standing points on the girls side were one better than runner-up Arroyo Grande. Atascadero finished third with 11, one above fourth-place Paso Robles.

It was the second year in a row Uyttewaal won the league title.

“I’ve been running this course since freshman year,” she said.

Uyttewaal, a senior, was further excited by the season being enjoyed by Hoffmann, whom she runs with six days a week.

“I know that she’ll keep the program strong when I go to college,” Uyttewaal said. “I’ve never been more proud, and this is the best team we’ve ever had.”

For Land, who also won the Ojai Invitational in mid-September, the back-to-back sweep of the county and league championships could be perceived as a statement that he’s now the definitive leading runner along the Central Coast, but he downplayed his recent success.

“I’m really happy,” he said, “but I don’t want to be satisfied with that too much, especially because this is my junior year. I want to look ahead more and focus on improving.”

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