Conner snaps Litzenberg’s 14 Sonoma cross country alum meet race-titles run, course record
How they started Sonoma’s annual season-opening cross country Alumni Meet Wednesday afternoon at the Maxwell Farms Regional Park course is how they finished, with standout Dragon senior Alex Conner (right) leading Sonoma head coach and multiple-defending champion John Litzenberg (second from right), from start to finish. Conner not only snapped Litzenberg’s run of 14th-straight alumni race victories, but he also set a new Maxwell Park course record.
On Wednesday, Sonoma Valley High School’s cross country program held its annual season-opening Alumni Meet on the 2.7-mile Maxwell Farms Regional Park course and senior standout Alex Conner found himself running a fine line between showing well for his coach, or showing up his coach.
John Litzenberg, a Sonoma graduate, former prep and collegiate star runner and head cross-country coach of the Dragons, was seeking his mind-boggling 15th-straight Alumni Meet title.
But he knew that he was going to face his biggest challenge in his star runner, Conner, who Litzenberg said before the race he needed to keep from pulling away early.
Unfortunately for the competitive and smooth-running Litzenberg, Conner did build-up an early lead, never slowed or faded, and turned in a run for the ages at Maxwell Park.
Despite being in front from wire-to-wire with no one to set a pace for him, or push him, Conner was outstanding in winning the Alumni Meet crown and, impressively, setting a new Maxwell Park course record with a time of 14 minutes, 12 seconds, which shattered the old mark of 14:54, set by Casa Grande’s Ben Tarango – the girls’ course record is 16:54.0 by Casa’s Ashley Moffett – by 42 seconds.
Litzenberg – who was the rare lone alumni runner, with Tom Sours being the lone “open-team” runner – finished in an unfamiliar second-place in 14:56, followed by the meet-winning Dragons’ senior Steven Wedell’s third in 16:20; sophomore Christian Martinez’s fourth in 16:52; junior Liam Casey’s fifth in 18:22; sophomore Keegan Ginter’s sixth in 18:23; junior Greg Maggioncalda’s seventh in 19:10; junior Peter Gray’s eighth in 19:17; Sours’ ninth in 19:26; junior A.J. Lemaire’s 10th in 20:17; junior Gianna Biaggi’s 11th in 20:22; sophomore Trey Garcia’s 12th in 20:43; junior Hannah Cenci’s 13th in 20:53; junior Serena Spry’s 14th in 21:02; junior Laura Amador’s 15th in 21:15; freshman Return Bongiovanni’s 16th in 24:15; and senior Taylor Patterson’s 17th in 25:49.
The Dragon runners will next compete in the annual eight-schools interlock meets at Spring Lake in Santa Rosa this Wednesday, Sept. 14.