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Sullivan cross country team achieves early success.

BONSALL – In only their first season ever of scoring as a team, the Sullivan Middle School Wildcats cross country team is enjoying remarkable success. Led by coach Tamara Miller, a teacher at Sullivan and a Fallbrook born and raised high school and collegiate runner herself, the team achieved outstanding team and individual results early in the season.

At the Walnut Grove Park league meet in San Marcos there were over 15 teams competing. On Oct. 7, the team came in first place for both Grade 6-7 Girls and Grade 6-7 Boys.

The girls won by an unheard of 57 points, with Paige Gartner leading the pack coming in fourth and all five scoring runners placing in the top 15 out of 142 runners. The boys won by 30 points with Miko Backalukas leading the pack coming in seventh and all five scoring runners finishing in the top 25 out of 156 runners.

The Grade 8 Girls and Grade 8 Boys both got fourth place.

Wildcat Katie Teel led the Grade 8 girls team, coming in 13th overall.

Wildcat Bryce Nachsteim came in first overall followed by Jimmy Bishop in fifth among the Grade 8 boys.

Two days later, at the Duck Pond Invitational in Vista, 11 runners competed against other running clubs throughout San Diego and Riverside counties. The Wildcats raked in six individual medals for the following top-ten finishers in their gender/age groups: Age 11-12 Girls: Camille Pokletar, sixth place; Age 11-12 Boys: Colin McKinney, second place, Miko Backalukas seventh place, and Oliver Reinard eighth place; Age 13-14 Girls: Katie Teel, eighth place; and Age 13-14 Boys: Bryce Nachsteim, third place.

On Oct. 13, the Wildcats participated in a league meet at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, competing against 20 teams and over 650 runners from North County schools. The Wildcats once again wowed spectators and the competition, finishing first for the 6/7 girls in a heat of 199 runners. The 6/7 girls remain undefeated in the league of 29 schools for the season scoring with the top 5. The team of nine girls consists of Camille Pokletar, second overall; Paige Gartner, third overall; Milana Collier, eighth overall; Julisa Pena, ninth overall; Jordan Fawcett, 26th overall; Lizzy Bishop, Kaylee Lacomb, Aidan Miller, & Mina Kuhn.

Coach Miller said, “These girls are unstoppable! They are actually all 7th graders which means they will all stick together and be a beast of a team of 8th graders.” The 6/7 boys scored an impressive third place in a heat of 250 runners and 20 teams. Top 5 runners who scored were Miko Backalukas, sixth; Colin McKinney, 12th; Oliver Reinard, 22nd; Kiefer Elkins, 25th, and Ethan McFarland 26th. Not far behind was the rest of this impressive team Max Hendricks, Shawn Sidley, Kyle Fitzpatrick and Felix Rios.

Coach Miller feels both of these teams have a really great shot at taking the league championship. The 8th grade girls got fifth place with Katie Teel leading the pack once again finishing 12th out of 112 runners! Eighth grader Jimmy Bishop won the race out of 105 runners and set a mile pace of 6:04! Asked the secret to her team's success, Coach Miller said, "This group of runners and their families are simply amazing in all aspects of their lives. They are driven, dedicated and willing. Above all, they are supportive of each other. They truly wow me every day and have renewed my own personal love of competitive running. I'm really proud of what they've done so far, and they are just getting started!"

The Sullivan Wildcat’s League Championship is Wednesday, Oct. 26 at Kit Carson Park in Escondido from 4 to 6:30 p.m.


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