By JOEL TIMBRELL
Special to the Tribune
The seven DFAL schools clashed at the Diablo Foothill Athletic League Championships last Saturday, Nov. 7, at Martinez’s Hidden Valley Park on Center Avenue.
Alhambra, which had the least amount of athletes out of any school, faced off against Miramonte, Campolindo, Dougherty Valley, Dublin, Las Lomas and Acalanes.
It was a perfect day for racing. There were clear skies, no rain or wind, and low 70s temperatures. The Frosh/Soph and junior varsity competed at the 2-mile distance, while varsity runners raced the tougher 3-mile course. Medals were awarded to the top 10 finishers in each division.
Campolindo, a powerhouse cross country program, tends to perform best at the late-season races. The DFAL Championships were no different, as the Cougars dominated every division. Some Bulldog runners, however, also put up impressive performances.
One of the Bulldogs’ best showings was in the Frosh/Soph girls 2-mile race. First-year runner Nicole Tria, already a multiple medalist this season, had another great race.
Tria began the race behind several of Dublin’s and Campolindo’s top runners. She looked to be in about 12th place for the first half mile before the pack of runners disappeared out of view towards the lake. When the field came back into view running across the narrow bridges and up Finale Hill, Tria had moved up to seventh.
During the last 400 meters, she held her place to finish seventh overall in a season best time of 14 minutes, 16 seconds, which earned just one of two Bulldog medals.
The Frosh/Soph boys race saw Alhambra’s Graham Manning also set a season best 2-mile time with a 12:15 finish for 24th place. Alan Kobylik additionally significantly improved his time to 13:14, while Gabriel Gonzales and Nick Atencio finished just seconds apart in 15:13 and 15:19, respectively.
What may have been the most outstanding performance was the duo of Don Rogers and Kevin Searls, who pushed the racing stroller of sophomore Nate Rogers. Searls, who is still the College Park 3200 meter record holder and the Humboldt Distance Running Camp Director, assisted Don in ascending Nate up the steep Finale Hill to finish his first complete race.
Kyle Thompson and Kyle Fitzpatrick surpassed their previous best times at the junior varsity 2-mile distance. Thompson closed his season with a time of 14:01, and Fitzpatrick took more than one minute from his past time of 16:47 to complete his last race in 15:31.
Running in just her fourth race of the season, sophomore Marissa D’Atri confirmed she is one of the top runners in the North Coast. As the varsity girls race turned from an all-out competition to a slower, tactical race, D’Atri stayed out of trouble and turned in an excellent time of 19:05. Her time achieved the eighth finishing place overall, which secured the second Bulldog medal. She took home the recognition of 2nd-team all DFAL for finishing in the top 14 runners.
D’Atri now looks ahead to the North Coast Section meet at Hayward High School, where she has a real chance to qualify for the State Championships in Fresno.
In the same race, junior Erica Cardinale battled through sickness for a 22:50 finish. Catherine Stites, Isa Mendoza, Kiersten Soza, and Kate Rogers competed in this race as well for the Bulldogs. In a stunning result, Campolindo’s Hana Sun won the race and upset both Chloe Hansel of Las Lomas (the 2014 State Champion) and Cassidy Haskell of Miramonte, the top freshman runner in NCS.
Bulldog runners struggled against the substantial amount of fast competition in the varsity boys race. Year after year the DFAL is the toughest league in NCS, and this season was no different.
Noa Nabeshima concluded his 3-mile distance with a time of 17:24, while teammate Connor Hayes broke 18 minutes for the first time with a 17:42. Robert Viano, Trevor Oliveira-Smith and Dylan Gregory each beat a few Miramonte and Acalanes opponents in the same race.
The North Coast Section Championships will be held Saturday, Nov. 21, at Hayward High School. As a Division III school, Alhambra runners will have to finish in the top 16 to qualify for the State Championships at Woodward Park.