SCL yanks Sonoma girls cross country co-title
Coach Litzenberg Wine Country Marathon 2nd
While Sonoma Valley High School’s cross country boys and girls train for their postseason journey into the challenging North Coast Section championships, a stunning development from the recent Sonoma County League championship meet might be taking away the Lady Dragons’ meet win, and their overall SCL co-title.
Making the possible reversal sting even a little more is the fact that this would’ve been Sonoma’s first SCL girls’ cross country title in 26 years, after the Lady Dragons won the league meet, which earned them a co-championship with Piner.
The point of contention leading to the current action by the league is at the finish line of the SCL girls’ championship meet, where an unofficial photo posted online shows a Petaluma girl ahead of Sonoma senior Gianna Biaggi, though the Petaluma girl’s result tag had her behind the Lady Dragon for seventh-place.
When the places are switched, and Biaggi, who had an inspiring finish despite shin-splints, is now the eighth-place runner, then, the tiebreaker goes beyond the five scoring runners and is decided by the sixth-place runner from both teams.
So, with its sixth-place finisher edging out Sonoma’s sixth-place runner, Petaluma ends up winning the league meet and the Lady Dragons end up one point short in the overall standings, with Piner, which is the school making the appeal, being the lone champion and Petaluma and Sonoma tied for second-place overall.
“After speaking with the league commissioner and the coach from Analy, which hosted the meet, it seemed like everyone was in favor of keeping the results as is,” said Sonoma coach John Litzenberg. “The photo was taken by someone who was not an official, and sent to another gentleman, who posts pictures and results on a website, and forwarded it to the coaches. The finish crew noticed no error at the time of the meet. It then went to the SCL commissioner, who met with the league’s athletic directors and they voted to change the results, because it was a correctable error and fair to the true final results. Obviously, I’m stunned and heartbroken, as are the girls. But it still can’t take away from the great season they had, and to me, they’re the champions.”
Trying to put the disappointment aside, Litzenberg is currently preparing both his Sonoma girls’ and boys’ varsity teams to compete in the NCS Division-3 championship meets at Hayward High School this Saturday, Nov. 17.
At the league’s recent SCL championship meet on the 3.08-mile Spring Lake course in Santa Rosa, the Lady Dragon runners were led by senior Hannah Cenci’s outstanding individual second-place effort in a time of 19 minutes, 20 seconds.
Following Cenci is Biaggi’s now-possible eighth-place finish, senior Laura Amador’s 13th place, senior Serena Spry’s 14th, freshman Madeline Libbey’s 16th, junior Itzel Macedonio’s 23rd, and frosh Brianna Lehane’s 29th place.
The SCL third-place Dragon boys were paced by senior Chris Tose’s sixth-place finish in 16:06, followed by junior Owen Ljung’s 14th place, senior A.J. Lemaire’s 20th, junior Keegan Ginter’s 23rd, senior Peter Gray’s 28th, senior Ryland Osborne’s 31st, and senior Greg Maggioncalda’s 32nd place.
“Both Hannah (Cenci) and Chris (Tose) each ran the second fastest time on the Spring Lake course for a Sonoma runner,” said Sonoma coach John Litzenberg. “For the girls, Hannah’s time of 19:20 puts her in second-place for the Sonoma girls, edging Renee Chaffin’s 19:22, with Sara Jakel having the best time of 18:23. On the boys’ side, Chris’ time of 16:06 is second-best for Sonoma at Spring Lake, with Alex Conner’s 15:15 last year easily the best. As far as our teams, we're shooting for the top half of the final standings in the NCS Division III for the boys, and I believe we could finish in the top-10 teams for the girls.”
Sonoma’s head cross country coach, Glen Ellen’s John Litzenberg, took a break in his coaching duties on Oct. 14, to put what he teaches to practical use as one of the top long-distance runners in the North Bay.
Litzenberg ran the Wine Country Marathon in Healdsburg and captured an impressive second-place overall finish with a time of 2 hours, 39 minutes, 53 seconds.
It was Litzenberg’s 12th marathon and his fifth fastest time.