It was a race against stiff competition and a stiff wind at the SLO County Cross Country Meet at Laguna Lake Park on Thursday afternoon.
In the end, San Luis Obispo’s Callum Bolger and Paso Robles’ Ashley Davis drafted their way to individual wins in the 5,000-meter race.
Bolger was neck-and-neck with Arroyo Grande’s Christian Ricketts early in the boys race, but Bolger turned on the jets with a mile to go on the dusty, flat track.
“I tucked in behind him for the first lap and a half,” Bolger said. “Once we got on the second loop, I got it going and passed him.”
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Bolger played the conditions perfectly and finished with a time of 15:27, well ahead of Ricketts who finished with a time of 16:04.
“The plan with the wind today was to wait a little bit longer to make a move,” San Luis Obispo coach Steve Boaz said. “He sensed that Christian was laboring a little bit, so he picked his point and took off. Christian is a top-notch runner and one of the best in CIF, just right now Callum is a little bit better.”
“Callum is really rolling right now,” Boaz said.
Bolger has finished first in five of his past six races.
Davis also let her opponents break the headwinds for her in a girls race that was tight until the final stretch.
“I was waiting for something to happen because we had a group for a long time,” Davis said. “The last mile came around, and the two Arroyo Grande girls took off and I was like, ‘you know what? I’m just going to go with them.’ ”
Davis pulled away in the last 300 meters and high-fived her proud father as she crossed the finish line with a time of 19:18, just ahead of Arroyo Grande’s Leza Cassidy (19:27) and Malia Simon (19:30).
“The crowd was cheering, so that was really cool,” Davis said.
“Ashley did a great job, but she can get faster,” Paso Robles coach Ivan Huff said. “She has not really tested herself to the max yet.”
Huff also had high praise for Cassidy, adding that she will be tough to beat later in the season.
The Arroyo Grande girls team finished first in the team competition with a combined time of 1:40:23. San Luis Obispo finished second and Paso Robles took third.
In the boys team competition, Paso Robles took first with a team time of 1:23:35. The Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo boys finished second and third, respectively.
“We’re getting towards the end of the season and we want to see where we are fitness wise,” said Ivan Huff, adding his boys team is in good position to win the PAC 8. “It’s all about the team aspect and moving the group closer together.”