Healdsburg sophomore Kaeden Anderson, all alone as he approaches 'the hill' at the Artichoke Invitational in Half Moon Bay, Oct. 1, 2022. He came in first in the sophomore boys heat. (Mike Efram)

Healdsburg High cross country runners, both girls and boys, are faring well so far this season in this popular prep sport. At the venerated Artichoke Invitational, an annual meeting of runners from large schools and small, races are run in separate heats for each category—both large school and small school runners separated by school year, all on the same 2.3 mile track that begins and ends at Half Moon Bay High.

As a result, well over 100 runners compete in each of eight boys’ races, and only slightly smaller numbers among the girls. 

“We like this meet because small schools run against other small schools,” said Mike Efram, who with Kate Guthrie coaches both boys’ and girls’ runners. “It also has separate races for the younger runners. As you see with the results, it allows the younger runners to shine.”

Taking that as a cue, we find that Kaeden Anderson continued his winning ways with a first place out of 169 runners in the “Frosh/Soph Small Schools” contest with a blistering 12:46, well ahead of the second finisher at 13:03. 

Earlier in the afternoon, the first race was the small schools’ freshman race, and Jake McWilliams medaled by placing 12th out of 108 runners. He was followed by his teammates Wyatt Drew (45th) and Milo Timmson-Miller (90th).

Other HHS boys who competed were Dash Willmore, Matthew Nielson, Jack Willmore, Alex Cyphers and Miguel Figueroa. The school did not make up a five-person team in any category, so did not earn a team score.

When it came to the girls in the girls’ frosh/soph competition of 146 runners, we find Healdsburg freshman Beatrice Hawkes coming in 16th (16:39), two minutes faster than her sophomore teammate Sierra Anderson (18:57). Fia Huebel (21.34) rounded out the HHS girls’ effort. Brenna Scott ran in the varsity competition. 

Sophomore Sierra Anderson (29.17), sister of fellow runner Kaeden, came in second at Hoot Owl on Sept. 26. behind freshman Beatrice Hawkes (25.21). (Michael Lucid)
Freshman Jake McWilliams (20:24) came in second behind sophomore Kaeden Anderson (18.13) at the Sept. 26 meet at Hoot Owl Vineyards. (Michael Lucid)

Hoot Owl Creek

While the Artichoke is the biggest event during the school season until the league and conference championships in November, more common are league meets against one or two other schools. On Sept. 28, Hoot Owl Creek vineyard was the scene of Healdsburg’s meeting with Elsie Allen and St. Vincent. While neither Elsie nor St. Vincent fielded a scoring team (of at least five finishing runners), the coach is pretty sure the Hounds would have taken the meet in any case.  

The results bear him out: The first six finishers in varsity boys were all from Healdsburg, including Kaeden Anderson with another record-setting run of 18.13—a time that seems high for a three-mile route, but is a new course record at what runners call “Top of the World.”

“If you have ever run the course, you will know why we named it that, as the course takes the runners way up high above the Alexander Valley for an amazing view (and a tough grind of a hill!),” said Coach Efram.

Anderson crushed his own course record, set last year, of 19:05, by nearly a minute. These days, Anderson owns the Top of the World.

Other varsity boys included Jack McWilliams in second (20.24), Matthew Nielson in third (22.14), Harrison Threlfall (22.25), Jack Wilmore (22:32) and Lucas York in sixth (22:42). 

Among the girls, freshman Beatrice Hawkes made a remarkable high school debut, winning her first race by a margin of nearly four minutes (25:21) over sophomore Sierra Anderson (29:17). They were followed by Alisa Strykowski (31.26), Maggie Trebilock (34.16) and Brenna Scott (37.56). 

For this meet at any rate, those five girls were the team. “It took a team effort here though, because without all five of our girls running, we would have not had a scoring team,” said Efram. “The spirit of this team is just great!”

Healdsburg High next hosts a cross country meet at Hoot Owl Creek on Oct. 16, against Analy.

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