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Lady Dragon thinclads four-peat

The Sonoma Valley High Lady Dragon cross country team Saturday made it four Sonoma County League championships in a row.

The Lady Dragons had four of the top 10 finishers and five of the top 12 as they scored a 10-point win over second-place Piner.

Sonoma finished with 35 points, Piner had 45, Analy and Healdsburg tied for third with 77 and Petaluma was fifth with 116. El Molino didn’t field a full team and Elsie Allen didn’t field a team at all.

Amy Stanfield finished second overall in a time of 19:49.88; Jenna Ebert was fourth in 20:21.09; Aliya Blinman was seventh in 20:42.94; Eliza Neeley was 10th in 21:06.59 and Malia Cashel was 12th in 21:23.00; Trinity McGuinness was 16th in 21:42.81; and Grace Kiser was 28th in 23:40.59.

Only the top five runners count in the scoring.

“This marks the first time in Sonoma High School history that a cross-country team, girls or boys, has earned four league titles in a row,” said Coach John Litzenberg. “Making it even more impressive is the fact that they were undefeated in SCL contests for all four seasons.”

Litzenberg said the title took on more meaning because of the two-week hiatus as a result of the fires – and the fact that this is the last year of the Sonoma County League.

Sonoma’s top six girls earned All-League status. Stanfield, Ebert and Blinman earned All-League first team for finishing in the top seven, while Neeley and Cashel earned All-League second team status while McGuinness earned honorable mention. “Eliza (Neeley), our girls’ captain, now holds the distinction of being the only Sonoma cross-country athlete to be on four League Title teams,” Litzenberg added.

“Amy (Stanfield) had a super race as did Jenna (Ebert) who finished just eight seconds in back of Piner’s top runner,” the coach continued.

The boys team didn’t fare as well as their counterparts. Two of the top five boys didn’t compete, and the boys finished sixth.

Piner won the boys meet with 21 points, Healdsburg was second with 70, Petaluma was third with 97 points, El Molino was fourth with 102, Analy was fifth with 113 and Sonoma was sixth with 116 points.

Justin Cox was Sonoma’s top finisher at third in 16:17.12; Liam Sheldon was 16th in 18:09.59; Mason Phillips was 27th in 19:16.50; Ryan Hengehold was 34th in 19:48.72; Derek Armstrong was 36th at 20:29.38; Lucas Martindale was 38th in 20:53.88; and Evan Raffaini was 39th in 25:24.56.

“Justin (Cox) had a great race, setting his personal best time on the Spring Lake course (16:17), which puts him fifth all-time for Sonoma for that course, which has been the same since 1988,” Litzenberg said.

The boys JV team finished third, just four points behind second-place El Molino. Piner ran away with the boys title with 15 points as their runners swept the top six places.

“That was pretty exciting as a couple of the regular JVs had to move up to varsity for us,” Litzenberg said. “They each were awarded a ribbon at the Awards Ceremony for finishing third as a team. Individually, Alexis Castillo (ninth) and Chris Berger (10th) had nice races and received ribbons for finishing in the top 14 individuals.”

There were only two Sonoma girls in the JV race. “Jasmine Garcia (7th) ran really well and received a ribbon for finishing in the top 14,” Litzenberg added.

The Dragons will be competing in the North Coast Championship meet on Saturday at Hayward High School. The following week is the State Meet in Fresno.