Thursday, December 17, 2009

All-Area Cross Country: 1984 to 2009

2009 All-Area selections by Zack Ewing:

BOYS CROSS COUNTRY -- Alex Garcia and Robby Baker, Ridgeview
I don't like going with co-Players (Runners) of the Year, because I think sometimes it's a crutch when you don't want to make a decision. But I will do it every now and then, and this is one case where the shoe fits. Garcia and Baker ran together in nearly every race of the year, finishing more than 30 seconds apart just twice. Baker had the better regular season, winning 10 events and beating Garcia along the way. But Garcia was at his best in the clutch -- winning at the SWYL meet and finishing ahead at the section and state meets as the Wolf Pack boys reached state for the first time in school history. Garcia was also ahead at the Kern County Championships until some spectators got in the way and forced the pair to change course late. Baker wound up winning with Garcia a second behind. How fitting. How can you separate them? McFarland freshman Erik Garcia also deserves some mention here; he won the Division IV section championship and led the Cougars to second in state in just his first year. Good things are ahead in 2010.

Ridgeview's Baker, Garcia share Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year honor

Even in a sport as individual as cross country, it pays to have good teammates. Just ask Robbie Baker and Alex Garcia. The two Ridgeview standouts were rarely challenged by the rest of the competition this past season. But the duo, which finished more than 20 seconds apart just once all year, didn’t let that deter them from pushing each other to get better every week.

First Team 2009

Wolf Pack's Setser named Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year

Ridgeview cross country coach Adam Setser knew this season would be a culmination of five years’ worth of program-building. When he came to Ridgeview, the team consisted of a couple of guys Setser described as “thugs” and not much else.
“There were struggles at the beginning trying to get this team to be a team,” Setser said. “It was tough, and we went through it for a couple of years.”

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY -- Tijerra Lynch, Ridgeview
Another testament to the program Adam Setser has built at Ridgeview is Lynch, who's now a two-time Runner of the Year after coming over from the track team, where she was an 800 specialist. Lynch beats out Sarah Baker of Bakersfield for this award, mainly because though their times were very similar (Baker's were even better at some points) the only time they raced against each other was at the Kern County meet. Lynch kicked at the end to beat Baker by five seconds. The good news for us is that both are juniors, and we can watch them battle again next year. Highland's Jeanette Rodriguez and Taft's Megan Thompson won section championships, but it was Lynch (third in D-III) and Baker (10th in D-I) who really led the local pack all year.

Ridgeview's Tijerra Lynch honored as All-Area Girls Runner of the Year

Tijerra Lynch caught people by surprise in her first year of cross country last season. In most cases this year, she just couldn't be caught.
The Ridgeview junior continued her transition from an 800-meter specialist to one of the top girls cross country runners in the area with another series of dominant performances.

First Team 2009Stockdale's Tape selected All-Area Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year

Stockdale girls cross country coach Bree Tape thought 2009 would be the dreaded rebuilding year, a stepping stone for successes down the road.
Then she saw her freshmen, and thought success this year was a heck of a lot closer.
She led the Mustangs to it, winning an SWYL title and the Kern County Championships. Tape is The Californian’s Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year.

Past winners: Runner of the Year

2008 Tijerra Lynch, Ridgeview

2007 Candace Carlson, North

2006 Cassandra Salazar, Shafter

2005 Amanda Montgomery, North

2004 Clarissa Rivera, Delano

2003 Brittany Grimes, Centennial

2002 Brittany Grimes, Centennial

2001 Brittany Grimes, Centennial

2000 Brittany Grimes, Centennial

1999 Alicia Veiss, McFarland

1998 Janel Suburu, Ridgeview and Laura Davis, McFarland

1997 Laura Davis, McFarland and Veronica Sanchez, Wasco

1996 Tracy Bowling, Taft; Cristina Sanchez, McFarland; Brianne Barber, Centennial

1995 Veronica Sanchez, Wasco and Tracy Bowling, Taft

1994 Tracy Cohn, Stockdale and Veronica Sanchez, Wasco

1993 Lori Fancon, Taft

1992 Cindy Franco, Delano

1991 Lori Miller, North and Cindy Franco, Delano

1990 Maribel Salinas, Arvin

1989 Mary Martinez, Foothill

1988 Mary Martinez, Foothill

1987 Mary Martinez, Foothill and Julie Caufield, East

1986 Mary Martinez, Foothill and Julie Caufield, East

1985 Julie Caufield, East and Tonya Russell, Taft

1984 Julie Caufield, East

Girls Coach of the Year:

2008 Adam Setser, Ridgeview

2007 Randy Jones, centennial

2006 terry lewis, shafter

2005 randy jones, centennial

2004 randy jones. centennial

2003 terry lewis, shafter

2002 randy jones, centennial

2001 gary adams, mcfarland

2000 pete perez, east

1999 gary adams, mcfarland

1998 darin sundgren, north

1997 jose medina, wasco

1996 jose medina, wasco

1995 david dennis, taft

1994 david dennis, taft

1993 gary adams, mcfarland

1992 gary kuster, north

1991 gary adams, mcfarland

1990 gary adams, mcfarland

1989 ted oliver, foothill

1988 gary adams, mcfarland

1987 ted oliver, foothill

Past Runners of the Year

2008 Chris Schwartz, Foothill

2007 Chris Schwartz, Foothill

2006 Alan Lloyd, Burroughs

2005 Octavio Ruiz, McFarland

2004 Brandon Rooney, Tehachapi

2003 Nathan Longcrier, Centennial

2002 Lucas Burke, Stockdale

2001 Billy Nelson, Taft

2000 Andres Gomes, McFarland

1999 Mario Macias, Delano

1998 Andres Gomes, McFarland

1997 Jose Perezchica, McFarland

1996 Jose Perezchica, McFarland

1995 Micah Fuson, Taft; Jorge Castro, Arvin and Luis Herrera, Arvin

1994 Galvin Gonzalez, McFarland

1993 Galvin Gonzalez, McFarland

1992 George Rivera, Delano and Ricardo Brewer, North

1991 George Rivera, Delano and Ricardo Brewer, North

1990 George Rivera, Delano

1989 Johnny Samaniego, McFarland; Juan Sanchez, Delano and Javier Flores, Wasco

1988 Juan Romero, Arvin

1987 Richard Duran, Wasco and Juan Romero, Arvin

1986 Thomas Valles, McFarland and Juan Romero, Arvin

1985 Jose Medina, Wasco and Thomas Valles, McFarland

1984 Eli Gonzalez, Highland

Boys Coach of the Year:

2008 Amador Ayon, Mcfarland

2007 Amador Ayon, Mcfarland

2006 amador ayon, mcfarland

2005 arrin reitz, foothill

2004 bernado salcido, golden valley

2003 anthony barnes, burroughs

2002 terry lewis, shafter

2001 jim white, mcfarland

2000 jim white, mcfarland

1999 jim white, mcfarland

1998 darin sundgren, north

1997 jim white, mcfarland

1996 terry lewis, shafter

1995 jim white, mcfarland

1994 jim white, mcfarland

1993 jim white, mcfarland

1992 jim white, mcfarland

1991 stan ingram, north

1990 nick velasquez, arvin

1989 jim white, mcfarland

1998 jim white, mcfarland

1987 jim white, mcfarland

BOYS CROSS COUNTRY: 2008 All-Area first team

Foothill — senior
Became a nationally recognized cross country star this season who lost only once — in the Division III state race — to California competiton. He rebounded to win the Western Regionals and finished eighth at the Foot Locker National Championships in San Diego.

Ridgeview — junior
Second-year runner led the Wolf Pack to an SWYL championship and placed eighth at the Central Section Division III championships in 16:43, then 75th at state in 16:28.

McFarland — senior
As the No. 1 runner on Kern County’s dominant team, he often led a pack of Cougars at the front of races. Finished second in the section’s Division IV race and 18th at state with identical 16:20 times.

McFarland — senior
The Cougars’ No. 2 runner won the East Sierra League championship in 15:51, then took third in the section race and 20th at state.

Wasco | senior
Finished sixth in the Central Section Division III race in 16:39, but his most impressive accomplishment came two weeks earlier, when he won his fourth straight South Sequoia League title.

McFarland — sophomore
The youngest Cougar starter finished third at the East Sierra League meet and fourth at the Kern County championships and Central Section meets. He was 30th at state.


Marco Camargo, junior, McFarland

Alex Garcia, junior, Ridgeview

Curtis Kelly, freshman, Stockdale

Francisco Nava, sophomore, McFarland

Brian Solis, junior, Ridgeview

Jake Van Zandt, junior, Highland


Bakersfield: Andrew Ariey

Garces: Connor O’Malley

Highland: Colin Lewis, Thomas Turner

McFarland: Gerardo Alcala, Eduardo Bautista

Ridgeview: Jerrid Lewis

Shafter: Christian Barrios, Jesus Villapondo

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY: 2008 All-Area first team

Ridgeview — sophomore
The 800-meter specialist in track added cross country with great success, winning the Kern County championships and the SWYL, and finishing third in the Central Section’s Division III race. The Wolf Pack won all three of those team titles.

Bakersfield — sophomore
Won her second straight SEYL championship and was the top Division I runner in the county. Finished 25th in the section’s D-I race in 20:45.

Foothill — sophomore
A third-place finish at the Division II section meet (20:04) was more than enough to make her the Trojans’ first girls state qualifier this century. She was second in the SEYL in 18:51 and 108th at state.

East — junior
Even though the Blades didn’t field a full team, she was at the forefront of most meets, including a third-place finish in the SEYL (18:55) and fourth place at the D-II section meet (20:08).

Garces — junior
Took fifth in the Southeast Yosemite League meet and proceeded to get stronger, running 19:53 for second place at the D-II section meet and 20:18 at the state meet for 127th.

Shafter — senior
Champion of the Wolf Pack Invitational and the South Sequoia League and runner-up at the Kern County championships. Finished sixth in the Division III section race.


Desiree Armendariz, Ridgeview

Nichole Berry, Highland

Ashley Duran, Ridgeview

Jessica Huizar, Ridgeview

Cecelia Lopez, North

Megan Thompson, Taft


Arvin: Tanya Hernandez

Bakersfield: Emily Shoford

Burroughs: Jenny Durtschi, Jennifer Speer

Independence: Acacia Ingram

McFarland: Corina Garcia, Kelly Torres

Shafter: Mariah Millwee

Stockdale: Caroline Henry, Courtney Moore, Amber Nelson

Wasco: Alejandra Gutierrez

Runner of the Year: Chris Schwartz

Foothill, junior

First Kern County runner to win Division I state cross country title.

Placed first in 12 straight meets from Sept. 26 through the Nov. 24 state meet

One of only 15 juniors in the nation to qualify for the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships in San Diego

Alfonso Cisneros

McFarland, junior

Finished second in Kern County, third in the Central Section and sixth at the Mount San Antonio College Invitational

Placed second in Southwest Sierra League

Cody Gragg

North, senior

Took home titles at Wolfpack Invitational, McLane Invitational and Golden West Invitational before winning Southwest Yosemite League

Ran 16:00 in Central Section meet, qualifying for the state meet

Jesus Gomez

McFarland, senior

Finished sixth in Kern County, third in Southwest Sierra League and 10th in Central Section Division IV finals

Placed sixth in Central Section individual meet to advance to state

Oscar Fuentes

East, junior

Second in Southeast Yosemite League in 16:08

Second in Central Section in 16:39

Ran 17:09 at state meet in Div. II

photo album HERE

boys runner of the year 1984-2006

Coach of the Year: Amador Ayon, McFarland

Ayon guided McFarland to its 17th straight Central Section title (20th overall) and a third-place Division IV finish at the state meet.

Ayon said the key to McFarland’s success was a hard-working group of runners.

“The highlight of the season was the whole season. Every single day was enjoyable to me,” Ayon said. “These kids were there every day. My assistant coaches were incredible.”

McFarland placed five runners in the top 10 at the Central Section Div. IV meet. Earlier in the season, McFarland cruised to the title at the Kern County Championships against county schools of all sizes by placing six runners in the top 9.

McFarland had only one senior on this year’s team, No. 1 runner Jesus Gomez, and a solid crop of prospects are in the local junior high. “The cupboard is not bare by any stretch of the imagination,” Ayon said.

boys coach of the year 1987 to 2006

Second team All-Area

Eddie Garcia, McFarland

Arturo Ramirez, Centennial

Angel Moreno, Highland

Talon Reed, Liberty

Gerardo Alcala, McFarland

Marco Perez, McFarland

Honorable mention

Burroughs: Caleb Rosales

Bakersfield: Andrew Ariey

Centennial: James Diller

Frontier: Michael Golich

Garces: Conner O’Malley

Golden Valley: Robert Quintero

Highland: Colin Lewis, Andrew McCay, Thomas Tuner, Jake Van Zandt

McFarland: Eddie Bautista, Marco Camargo, Jose Gomez, Francisco Nava

Ridgeview: Robby Baker

Shafter: Joshua Wittenberg

Stockdale: Michael Bernaba

Tehachapi: Chris Sanchez

West: Tesfa Habebo

Wasco: Asencion Mendoza

Schwartz stepped up on big stage
BY JEFF EVANS, Californian staff writer
e-mail: | Thursday, Dec 27 2007 8:30 PM
Last Updated: Thursday, Dec 27 2007 8:35 PM

Chris Schwartz was the first Kern County runner to win a Division I state cross country championship in the 21-year history of the state meet, and that wasn’t even Schwartz’s biggest highlight of the season.

Photo by Casey Christie / The Californian
Foothill High’s Chris Schwartz, right, outsprints, Trabucco Hills’ Riley Sullivan near the finish line in Fresno, during the state championship cross country match. Schwartz took first and Sullivan came in second.
“Going to the nationals was my highlight,” said Schwartz, a junior at Foothill High School who is The Californian’s All-Area Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

“And I had my worst day ever at the nationals,” Schwartz added, referring to his 37th-place finish at San Diego’s Balboa Park in early December at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.

But Schwartz, 17, already had an outstanding season prior to that meet.

He was the dominant Kern County runner all season, including easy wins at the Kern County Championships and the Southeast Yosemite League meet.

Schwartz captured the Division I Central Section championship at Woodward Park, clocking 15 minutes, 31 seconds over the 5-kilometer course.

The state meet followed two weeks later.

With all eyes focused on co-favorites Riley Sullivan from Mission Viejo-Trabuco Hills and Brett Walters from Hesperia-Sultana, Schwartz used a late-race kick to pull ahead and win the race in 15:13, one second faster than Sullivan and eight seconds faster than third-place finisher Walters.

“I was planning to finish in the top-5, and I won,” Schwartz said.

The state meet marked the 12th straight race Schwartz had won, dating to a Sept. 26 triangular meet at Foothill.

Schwartz credited maturity and advice from Foothill track assistant coach Paul Contreras as the catalysts for his special cross country season.

“My track coach from last year (Contreras) helped me with pacing,” Schwartz said. “I couldn’t have done it without pacing.”

Schwartz, a state track meet qualifier last spring in the 3,200 meters, said he’s a stronger cross country runner.

“The further the distances, I’m much better,” he said. “I can’t outrun people. I’m more of a long-distance runner.”

Schwartz calls the late Steve Prefontaine, one of America’s greatest distance runners, as an idol who keeps him motivated, even though Prefontaine died in a 1975 automobile accident, many years before Schwartz was born.

“I know he died before I was born, but I want to catch his time,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz placed seventh at the West Regionals following the state meet, which qualified him for the Foot Locker national championships in San Diego. He was one of 40 of the top runners in the nation invited to the meet.

At the regionals, he out-kicked Sullivan again, “just like the state meet,” Schwartz said, and was the second-fastest runner from California.

He said he was one of only seven juniors at the Foot Locker meet.

“I was kind of surprised to make it,” Schwartz said. “I was the only junior making it from the Western Region.”

Schwartz is already planning to run in the Foot Locker meet next season.

“Next year I won’t be as nervous and I’ll know the course more. And most of the kids who will be coming will be running it the first time, or I ran against them this year.”

Runner of the Year: Candace Carlson

North, junior

Had top times for girls from Kern County at the state and Central Section championships

Beat all Kern County girl runners head-to-head all season

Third consecutive first team All-Area pick

Placed first at Kern County Championships at Hart Park

Brianna Diaz

Delano, senior

Won Division II Central Section race to qualify for the state meet

Set Delano course record of 18:11

Was undefeated in East Yosemite League and Central Section

Ashley Nolasco

Stockdale, senior

Became second Stockdale runner in coach Bree Tape’s five-year tenure to reach Division I state meet

Second team All-Area in 2006

Ran 19:08 at Mount San Antonio College Invitational

Cassandra Salazar

Stockdale, senior

84th at state meet in Division III

Ran 18:04 at South Sequoia League championship, beating school record by 1:35

First team All-Area in 2006

Ashlee Thomas

Centennial, senior

Fourth in Central Section Division II race, leading Golden Hawks to team title

Fifth in SWYL meet

Personal record in 5-kilometer race is 20:00

Elizabeth Wittenberg

Shafter, junior

Qualified for the Division III state meet

Finished second behind teammate Cassandra Salazar at Atascadero Invitational and the Central Valley Championships

photo album HERE

girls runner of the year 1984-2006

First team All-Area in 2006

Coach of the Year: Randy Jones, Centennial

A blend of newcomers with veterans helped Centennial win its fifth Central Section girls cross country team title in the 10-year career of coach Randy Jones.

Jones earned The Californian’s All-Area girls cross country coach of the year honor for the third time in four seasons.

“Our boys (team) got one (a Section title) this year, too. It’s been a good run,” said Jones, who resigned as Centennial’s cross country coach but will continue to coach track and field.

Centennial won the Division II girls section title by placing five runners in the top 10. The Golden Hawks scored 33 points to easily outdistance Visalia-Golden West’s 63.

“That was our goal all season,” Jones said of the section meet. “We wanted to win that valley meet. I set up our training for that meet. We tried to peak there and we did.”

girls coach of the year 1987 to 2006

Second team All-Area

Lizzy Baker-Steimer, Centennial

Sarah Baker, Bakersfield

Halie Meadow, Frontier

Natalie Fernandez, Foothill

Ruby Lara, McFarland

Carolyn Haney, Stockdale

Honorable mention

Centennial: Jessica Crow, Kelsey Dahl, Rachel Tiner

East: Sophia Garcia

Garces: Monica Guzman

Golden Valley: Hanna Rocha

Highland: Denise Mercado, Angelina Roman

Foothill: Perla Veloz

McFarland: Corina Garcia

Ridgeview: Jessica Huizar, Yesmin Tanguma

Shafter: Cassandra Carillo, Amy Waters, Elizabeth Wittenberg

Stockdale: Brianne Curtis, Jessica Miller, Amber Nelson, Shelbe Penner

Tehachapi: Emily Leming, Sarah Whitson

Taft: Melinda Magee

Wasco: Alejandra Gutierrez

Carlson put together a dominant run
BY JEFF EVANS, Californian staff writer
e-mail: | Thursday, Dec 27 2007 8:30 PM
Last Updated: Thursday, Dec 27 2007 8:35 PM

Candace Carlson proved to be unbeatable against Kern County opposition this season.

Carlson, a junior at North High School, was the dominant girls runner in the county and has been selected as The Californian’s All-Area Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.

“I’m excited. That’s awesome,” Carlson said after learning she’s been named the top runner.

She is the second North runner to win the honor in three seasons. Amanda Montgomery won in 2005 when Carlson was a freshman.

“It’s cool following in her footsteps,” Carlson said.

Carlson said her best race of the season came at the Oct. 27 Kern County Championships, where she blistered the 3-mile Hart Park course in 18 minutes, 9 seconds.

“That was my best time at Hart Park,” she said. “I felt so good that race.”

Carlson took the lead by the midway point of the race and steadily pulled away. She sped up and crossed the finish line in a sprint.

“I didn’t have any competition (that day), but even when you don’t have anyone to run with, you have to run for yourself,” she said.

Carlson won the Southwest Yosemite League individual title with a time of 18:52 at Hart Park, then placed fourth at the Central Section Division I race at Woodward Park in Fresno with a time of 19:04.

At the state meet two weeks later, her time was 19:28 — still faster than any other Kern County runner at the state meet but a disappointment to Carlson. She had a 19:14 on the same course at the state meet her sophomore year.

“I thought I would do a lot better the last two races this season, but I can’t be disappointed,” Carlson said.

She acknowledged it was difficult running among a pack of runners after often being alone ahead of everyone during Kern County races.

“You’re used to winning to having so many girls around you,” Carlson said. “It’s going to get into your head and break down your spirit a little bit.

“But that happens to everyone. I think I’m getting adjusted to it.”

One hurdle Carlson said she’ll need to overcome is the mental aspect of running at Woodward Park.

“That course is really hard for me, whenever I run there,” she said. “It seems like every time I’m there, I’m facing intense competition, which doesn’t help.”

Carlson said her goal is continued improvement next year, which she hopes will lead to a college athletic scholarship.

“My coaches all tell me I have a lot of potential,” she said. “I’m excited to see what I can do.”

Time-wise, she said she’d like to chop about 30 seconds off her time at Woodward Park while running below 18 minutes at Hart Park.

“I’m pretty excited for my senior year,” Carlson said. “If I can drop into the 17s, it gives me a lot of improvement from this year.

“That was my goal coming into this year, but I didn’t get my times down that low.”

She has taken a break from running in December but said she’ll be back running in January in preparation of track.

“I’ll start by running 5 miles a day, until I need to do some speed workouts,” Carlson said. “Track is different from cross country, of course. It’s hard to say what I prefer. It’s boring running eight laps around the track (for the 3,200 meters). The 1,600 goes so fast.”

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