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By Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent 

Bonsall High boys third at CIF cross country meet

Starks third among Division V runners

 

Last updated 1/7/2018 at 10:18pm



Bonsall High School principal Lee Fleming was present at the CIF San Diego Section cross country meet Nov. 18 at Morley Field in San Diego to support the Legionnaires' runners. Before she left Morley Field she was working with Bonsall cross country coach Al Greene on logistics to send the boys runners to the CIF state meet in Fresno the following weekend.

The top three Division V teams at the San Diego Section meet qualified for the state meet. Bonsall placed third among the 20 Division V schools which had the minimum five runners for a team score.

"I can't believe it," said Greene. "I am so excited. I kind of knew we were going to do well. I didn't know how well."

A seeding system determines starting boxes at the CIF meet, and that system had the male Legionnaires fourth among Division V teams.

"It was an upset," said Greene. "We weren't supposed to be third."

Team cross country scores are derived by adding the finishing positions of each school's five fastest runners. The sixth and seventh finishers are not scored but can add points to other teams' totals. Francis Parker won the Division V championship with 41 points. Holtville placed second with 89 points. Bonsall had 142 points. The fourth-place school, Julian, accumulated 161 points.

Maranatha Christian sophomore Riley Burns was the first individual finisher in the Division V boys race with a time of 16:06.0 on the 2.96-mile course. Francis Parker senior Tanner Penrose had the second-place time of 16:32.0.

Bonsall senior Lance Starks earned third place with a 16:46.0 performance.

"It's not how you start, it's how you finish," Starks said. "I started off bad."

In reality the start left Starks with ground to gain but was part of the strategic plan.

"I knew there were some pretty good runners out there and I didn't want him to burn out at the very beginning," Greene said.

"The first mile I just took it nice and slow," Starks said. "When it came to the final mile I had to catch up and pass some people."

Approximately 300 meters from the finish line Julian senior Ethan Elisara was in third place about 10 meters ahead of Starks.

"He was starting to slow down on the hill, so I took advantage of it," Starks said.

"He just poured on the coals," Greene said. "It was just thrilling."

The Legionnaires' practices included a "speed day" once each week, and Greene told Starks to utilize the speed day tactics at the end. Elisara settled for fourth place and a time of 16:47.9.

The next two Bonsall finishers were both juniors – Maximus Collier took 17th place with a time of 17:44.0 and Fulton Elkins had the 30th-place time of 18:19.5. A time of 18:32.6 made sophomore Austin Alanis the 43rd finisher. William Wallace posted a time of 18:45.3 to provide the senior with 52nd place. The 59th finisher was senior A.J. Greene, who had a time of 19:06.6. All seven of Bonsall's runners finished in the top half of the field, as junior Nick Murphy finished 63rd at 19:11.0. A total of 152 harriers competed in the Division V boys race.

"I'm just real proud of them," Al Greene said.

Bonsall High School opened in 2014 with ninth-graders only and did not join the CIF until 2015. Danny Costa coached the Legionnaires in 2015, and two Bonsall boys participated at the CIF cross-country meet. Elkins, the only one of those runners who competed in 2017, placed 123rd among the 128 finishers with a time of 27:26.22 on the course which was 3.04 miles that year.

John Nunn coached Bonsall's 2016 harriers. Six boys ran at the CIF meet, allowing the Legionnaires to obtain a team score of 303 points which placed 11th among the 21 Division V boys teams with at least five runners. Collier was the fastest Bonsall runner at the 2016 meet, placing 24th with a time of 19:11 on the 3.04-mile course.

Nunn has moved to San Antonio, so Greene became Bonsall's third coach in three years.

"At the beginning of the season we didn't even look at CIF," Greene said. "We were just concentrating on winning each individual race."

Bonsall's 2017 season began Sept. 13 with the fourth annual High Tech High North County Small School Invitational on the 5,000-meter (3.1-mile) Lake San Marcos course. The Legionnaires finished first as a team and Starks, who had been a sprinter on Bonsall's track and field team but had not previously run cross-country, was the individual winner with a time of 17:48.1.

"From then on we just started doing well every single meet," Greene said. "As the season went on they knew they were good and it made them want to work harder."

Five Frontier Conference meets comprised Bonsall's competitive activity between the season-opening invitational and the CIF meet, but Greene was able to compare times of his runners with those of other Division V schools Bonsall had not faced.

"I knew that we had beaten a lot of them," said Greene. "I knew that we had a chance."

That chance of qualifying for the state meet became a reality at the section race. "I couldn't be more proud of them," Greene said.

 

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