Sonoma Valley boys and girls are racing around Maxwell Farms Regional Park these days, trying to better their times on the 2.75-mile course in training for the upcoming Vine Valley league cross country season. Following the annual Alumni Meet on Sept. 5, the team went to Golden Gate Park for the Lowell Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 8, putting both a varsity girls and varsity boys teams in competition on the 2.93 grass and dirt course.

“This was a super competitive meet, with some of the best cross-country teams in Northern California, said cross country coach John Litzenberg. “It was good for our teams to get a chance to compete against some really fast teams early in the season. Individually, Anabelle (Hunter) and Emma (Brophy) had nice races, finishing around the top half of the field.”

It was also a huge meet, with 26 scoring teams and 187 individual finishers among the girls races alone. Individual girls results were Anabelle Hunter (108th overall, 21:18), Emma Brophy (109th overall, 21:22), Grace Kiser (171st overall, 24:03), Jocelyn Paredes (172nd overall, 24:15), Jasmine Garcia (182nd overall, 25:26) and Carmen Carrillo (185th overall, 26:29)

The boys races were even more competitive, with 34 scoring teams and 230 individual finishers. SVHS boys had the following individual results: Justin Cox (147th overall, 17:29), Nate Jordan (203rd overall, 18:55), Mason Phillips (206th overall, 19:05), Lucas Martindale (208th overall, 19:13) and Zander Casillas (220th overall, 20:08).

This past Wednesday, Sept. 12, found the cross country teams in competition with Windsor High School on a warm afternoon at Maxwell Field. Top finishers were a brother and sister from Windsor: senior Lucas Chung (14:36) in the boys, freshman Lilja Chung (18:17) in girls.

“Windsor is a vastly improved team compared to last year, and they beat us pretty handily,” acknowledged Litzenberg. “Our girls team is very young, after we had five seniors graduate last year, and they are still getting into shape and learning how to race.” One of last year’s team stars, Amy Stanfield, was at the finish line with a supportive sign, showing team spirit for the last time before she heads off to UCLA for her freshman year.

Top Sonoma Valley girl finishers were Hunter in third place at 19:44, Brophy in fourth at 19:57, and Cashel in fifth with a time of 20:21.

The boys too placed their best finishers far behind the Windsor runners, but Litzenberg was sanguine. “Half of our boys team was missing from the meet today due to disciplinary and/or health related issues,” he said. “However, we did have many of our athletes, girls and boys, significantly improve upon their times from last week, so that’s a positive.”

The top SVHS boy, Justin Cox, finished fourth at 16:29 after stumbling mid-way through the race. Hengehold finished 12th with a 18:23, and Casillas came in right behind him with the same time.

“Our focus right now is on getting stronger and healthy so we’re ready for our first Vine Valley League meet in two weeks, which we will be hosting at Maxwell,” said Litzenberg.