ROUGH START At left, Healdsburg’s Lucas York dodges a fallen runner in the Aug. 25 Rancho XC Invitational. HHS runners ahead of him are Jake McWilliams and Kaeden Anderson. (Photo by Michael Lucid)

This past Saturday, the Healdsburg Cross Country team woke early to participate in the Viking Opener at Spring Lake Park. The two-mile race is attended by many schools in the Sonoma/Marin/Napa region. It gives the runners a chance to run against local teams at the site of the League Finals.

The races started early, as the freshman boys ran at 8:35am. Healdsburg’s Lukas Brennan started the day with a ribbon-winning performance (15th, 12:36) before he jetted off to play a soccer game. Sophomore Jake McWilliams followed with a medal of his own with a 7th-place finish coming in at 11:12, bettering his time from last year by 1:22.

In the girls, sophomore Beatrice Hawkes also took home a ribbon at 17th place in the 9:10am race, with a time of 14:05.

“The team likes to see the data from their past season, and we have a team Google Sheet that dates back to 2018,” said coach Mike Efram. “What I noticed was the improvements that just about every runner made since last year at the same race. This comparison is important to get an idea of the individual as well as the team.”

Efram added, “The data that stood out to me was the astounding improvement of Dash Willmore, bettering his time last year by more than two minutes! We all watched in amazement as he flew up the last steep hill near the finish.”

Other big improvements were from Alisa Strykowski, bettering her time by 58 seconds, and Milo Timmsen-Miller, improving by 1:58. Newcomers did not have any past times to compare themselves with, but notable among them were Niles Cobb (13:09), Brandon Hausmen (13:18) and Joie Kozubal (15:51).

“As we go forward, we are hoping the two of our injured Varsity Boys return to the team. Julian Johannsen and Kaeden Anderson are essential for a possible visit to the state meet for the whole team,” Efram said.

The next meet will be against St. Vincent and Elsie Allen on Sept. 27 at Shollenberger Park in Petaluma.

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