There definitely weren’t any fluke winners at this year’s PAC 7 cross country championships.
Exactly one week after Seamus Land and Christine Hoffmann won the individual boys and girls titles at the San Luis Obispo County Meet at Laguna Lake Park, the two San Luis Obispo High seniors each won again on a hazy afternoon Thursday at the league finals on the Fairbanks course adjacent to Cuesta College.
It marked the second straight year that Land pulled off the back-to-back sweep of the county and PAC 7 championships.
“Looking back, I’m really happy about it,” Land said. “I just feel so honored that I’ve been able to do my best and have it be a pretty good result.”
Hoffmann also won the county meet as a junior, before finishing as the runner-up at Fairbanks a year ago to then-teammate Kathleen Uyttewaal, who’s now running at Cal.
Land’s 5K time of 15 minutes, 50.3 seconds, his personal-record for the course, led the Tigers to the boys team title with a five-person total of 44 points.
“It feels really great,” Land said. “We didn’t come out here to run for any certain time or place, but we just give it our all.”
Hoffmann clocked an 18:29.5 to help the Tigers to a second-place finish in the girls standings (with 35 points), behind Arroyo Grande (30).
“It feels really good, and it’s nice to do it back-to-back,” Hoffmann said.
Hoffmann was patient early, biding her time during the mostly-downhill first mile and saving her best for the latter uphill stretches.
This past weekend, Land said, the Tigers ran the course in a slow jog to prepare.
“I really like this course,” he said. “We do a lot of hill training, so it works well for us.”
Added Hoffmann: “This is super-exciting, especially for the team. We’re coming together right in time (for the postseason).”
The CIF-Southern Section divisional prelims will be held Nov. 12, before the finals Nov. 19.
The team-champion Eagles were led by Hannah Stevens, who crossed after Hoffmann in 18:59.
They recaptured the title thanks to the depth of having Stevens’ teammates place fourth (Elizabeth Heyde at 19:28), fifth (Jessica Morosoli, 19:29.3), ninth (Emily Johnston, 20:19.7) and 10th (Jocelyn Reynolds, 20:23.1).
“Strategy-wise, I’m happy, because I did what I needed to do and the girls did what they needed to do,” Stevens said. “Our goal is to close our gap, to make our times closer together. Our team definitely is deep, even down to JV. We just have a tight-knit group.”
The Tigers had won the past two girls team championships, with 2009 coming down to a tiebreaker.
“It feels amazing,” Stevens said. “This is a really sweet victory, because last year we didn’t get it. I’m really proud of our team.”
The Eagles are hoping their progress can lead to a return trip to the state meet.
When Stevens was a freshman, Arroyo Grande made it that far for the first time in 17 years.
Paso Robles was third in the girls team standings with 74 points, ahead of Atascadero (99), St. Joseph (143), Pioneer Valley (174) and Righetti (188).
San Luis Obispo’s Micayla Rennick came in third place individually at 19:23.5, and the Tigers also got sixth- and seventh-place finishes from Leah Rife-Dupuy (at 19:39) and Olivia Carmo (19:48.2), respectively.
Devin Corea had Paso Robles’ best time with an 11th-place 20:50.3, and Annie Thompson paced Atascadero in 15th at 21:21.7.
The Eagles were the team runner-up on the boys side with 53 points, followed by Paso Robles (60), Righetti (106), Atascadero (122), St. Joseph (143) and Pioneer Valley (176).
Land was closely followed by teammate Luke Kraemer, who was second at 16:06.1. Paso Robles’ Zander Souza finished third at 16:15.1, trailed by Arroyo Grande’s Josh Davis in fourth (16:21.9). Daniel Reyes had Atascadero’s top time at 17:09, in 17th place.