High School Sports

Three prep cross country teams qualify for state

Freshman Talley Hill led the Arroyo Grande High girls cross country team to a third-place Division 2 finish Saturday morning at the CIF-Southern Section championships at Mt. San Antonio College and a berth in next week’s state meet.

Austin Lay led the Morro Bay boys to a sixth-place Division 4 finish and a state meet spot. Nipomo’s girls, paced by Gracie Albano, also earned a state berth.

Hill, who completed the 3-mile course in 18 minutes, 2 seconds, was the second freshman finisher in the race. Angela Gemignani (20th, 18:06), Rosa Granados (28th, 18:19), Leza Cassidy (34th, 18:24), and Jocelyn Reynolds (54th, 18:54) rounded out the scoring for Arroyo Grande. 

“They ran in a very mature fashion, going out in control and then picking people off the whole second half of the race,” Arroyo Grande coach Sean Ricketts said.

The Eagles finished with 123 points, just 28 shy of winner Simi Valley, which is a national top-10 team.

Austin Lay (sixth, 15:27) and Morro Bay also had their state aspirations met, with Andrew Stafford (27th, 16:19) and Daniel Van Beurden (32nd, 16:24) following Lay and leading the Pirates to Clovis, where the state finals will be held next Saturday. Morro Bay’s 147 points placed it just 23 behind Division 4 winner Xavier Prep.

The Nipomo girls advanced to state behind a quartet of top-35 finishers: Gracie Albano (11th, 18:44), Kyra Meko (16th, 19:07), Cassie Dittenhoefer (24th, 19:25) and Taylor Witcher (35th, 19:38). The Titans finished sixth in the Division 4 race with 167 points.

The top seven teams qualify for state as well as the top five indiividual finishers not on a top-seven team, as long as they’re in the top 20 overall.

The Division 3 races were not as kind to PAC 7 teams, as both San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles barely missed qualifying for the boys state meet, and Paso Robles also missed sending its girls to state.

The Tigers, with 226 points, were seven points shy of Indio, which was the last team to advance. William Ernst (10th, 15:11) qualified for the state meet as an individual. 

San Luis Obispo’s Kelsey Harper (41st, 19:09) ran as an individual in the girls meet.

Both Bearcats squads came up just shy of advancing, with the boys (233 points) coming in ninth and the girls (172 points) coming in eighth. Zach Chamberlain (14th, 15:21) advanced as an individual in the boys meet. 

The girls missed seventh-place Quartz Hill by seven points. Ashley Davis (11th, 18:23) qualified individually for Paso Robles 

Arroyo Grande’s boys were not able to overcome a loaded heat, and finished 11th with 257 points. Though Christian Ricketts just missed individual qualification status, he did record the fastest freshman time of the day.

Veronica Russell (39th, 19:48) led Templeton to an 11th-place Division 4 girls finish.