By JOEL TIMBRELL
Alhambra High’s cross-country team made the trip to Hayward High School for the 14th annual Farmer Invitational this past Saturday, Sept.17.
Like Martinez’s Hidden Valley Park on Center Avenue, Hayward’s course this year was slightly different because of construction work.
The traditional three-mile course cut the quarter-mile run around the dirt track and instead used the field right next to it.
According to meet officials, the course will return to its original design at the North Coast Section Championship races in October.
While Hayward has been known for its rainy weather at the NCS Championships, the conditions could not have been better on Saturday as temperatures stayed dry and climbed no higher than 75 degrees.
Hayward is also considered one of the best cross country race sites for spectators. Runners start from the grass fields directly across from the baseball diamond and make several loops around the campus and through the school’s hallways. They end at the finish line on the same field about 100 meters away.
Freshman and sophomores raced a distance of 2.25 miles while the varsity and junior varsity completed the regular three miles. Runners finishing in the top 25 in each race took home a medal.
At 10 a.m. the freshman boys race started. Carson Edwards started out quick with the top 15 runners, who were led by Mission San Jose’s Arnav Arora and Ashwin Provine.
In just his second cross country race ever, Edwards stayed with the lead group for the remainder of the race and crossed the line in eighth place out of 135 runners, earning Alhambra’s first medal with a time of 13:03.2.
Sophomore Nicole Tria fared even better in the 2.25 mile Frosh/Soph girls race.
She began even higher up than Edwards among the first five runners and ended up finishing in a close second place overall to the winner. Her time of 14:35 was good for the second Bulldog medal of the day. She was one of only three girls to break the 15-minute mark.
Almost three hours after Tria had finished her race, it was time for the junior varsity runners to compete.
Jaime Ayala and Gabriel Gonzales raced the three-mile distance for the first time, with Ayala establishing a personal record of 21:52 and Gonzales finishing in 26:07.
At 1:35 p.m., Marissa D’Atri, Erica Cardinale, Isa Mendoza and Karina Diaz started the three-mile distance for the varsity girls’ race. In a very tough group of runners that included powerhouses Granada and Nueva, D’Atri and Cardinale both won medals.
D’Atri finished high up in the results at third overall and a time of 18:21.21, while Cardinale ran the race of her life to just barely break the 20 minute mark for the first time with a 19:59.94 and 23rd place finish.
Six Bulldogs took to the starting line in the varsity boys three-mile race for the day’s last competition at 2:05 p.m.
Senior Connor Hayes ran a time of 17:04, just seven seconds off his personal best for the Hayward course.
Trevor Oliveira-Smith cut his 2015 NCS time of 17:43 down to 17:21.77, while Gabe Winslow posted a time of 19:13 on his first time running at Hayward.
Kyle Thompson, who ran 22:38 at last year’s Farmer Invitational, significantly cut his time down this year to 19 minutes and 54 seconds, making him the most improved Bulldog.
Up next on the cross country schedule is the Ram Invitational at Westmoor High School in Daly City, which will take place this Saturday, Sept. 24.
They will then host a meet at Hidden Valley Park on Center Avenue in Martinez on Sept. 28.
For more information and track schedules and results visit AlhambraTrack.org.