DP girls rock their own invitational

The wind really picked up on Friday afternoon, but it didn’t stop the horde of cross country athletes from picking up the pace at Shoreline Park during the Dos Pueblos Invitational.

Especially the Dos Pueblos girls, who won the sweepstakes in the age-group formatted meet. 

“The big story is the girls pulling out the sweepstakes win,” said Dos Pueblos assistant coach Dave Kuderka, who along with head coach Leslie Wiggins organized the fourth annual invitational meet. “To win the sweepstakes is pretty phenomenal.”

The Charger sophomore girls dominated, taking three of the top four spots thanks to Erin Campbell, Kelly Kosmo and Sophie Pollack. The trio all finished within a few seconds of each other with Campbell’s time of 20 minutes and 30 seconds leading the way.

San Marcos, Cate, Bishop Diego and Carpinteria also attended the meet.

San Marcos’ senior girls placed first overall, with first-year runner Danielle Gemberling crossing the finish line in second place a tick under 20 minutes. Teammates Kalley Ridgway and Sarah Terry weren’t far behind, coming in fourth and seventh, respectively. Kate Bowdle’s 16th-place result gave the Royals four runners in the top 20.

“Danielle’s just doing an amazing job,” said Royals coach Lawrence Stehmeier. “It’s the first time she’s seen all these courses this year.”

Evan Bradford was the top boys finisher for the Royals, coming in second in the 11th-grade division with a time of 17:01.

Two local runners came in first place in their respective grade levels.

Cate junior Mackenzie Walsh secured the top spot for girls with a time of 20:30, beating out DP’s Alexa Canova-Parker by 14 seconds.

Dos Pueblos sophomore Sergey Sushchikh almost broke the 17-minute barrier to gain a narrow victory in the 10th-grade boys division. DP’s Sam Sarmiento also recorded a top-ten finish for the sophomore boys and Carpinteria’s Travis Madden came in 14th with a time of 18:21.

Chris Braden, a Charger senior, did manage to break that 17-minute barrier. His time of 16:57 was good for fourth in his age group, despite the not-quite pristine conditions on the course.

“The footing was a little weird; I never got a solid stride,” said Braden of the 3-mile track that made its way up and down Shoreline Park. “The wind added another problem.”

All who were there got a scare after the junior girls race when Rio Mesa’s Holly Smith collapsed and was unresponsive. Paramedics arrived on scene and took her to Cottage Hospital still unconscious. The meet was delayed for a half an hour while Smith was taken away, and before the 12th-grade boys race began, DP coach Dave Kuderka asked everyone on the loudspeaker to say a prayer for the young runner from Ventura County.

Later, it was found out that she regained consciousness on the way to the hospital, and after a few tests, left Cottage and was resting at home by eight o’clock Friday night.

In all, over 700 runners competed in the grade-divided event.

“It’s always a nice thing to do,” said Stehmeier of the format. “It gives them an idea of where they’re at against those that they’re competing against for the next three years.”