Kaeden Anderson comes in first in the NBL Redwood League cross country finals on a rainy day in Ukiah, Nov. 5, claiming the year's individual title. (Photo courtesy of NBL Redwood)

The books are closed on Healdsburg High’s fall sports season, which for the football Greyhounds ended in much the same way as it progressed all year, with a 48-16 drubbing by Piner. Their winless 2022 season is a disappointment, but as Coach Bear Gray likes to say, “We’re a young team!” In other words, wait until next year.

The girls volleyball team also ended the season with a loss, but it was in the first round of the post-season conference playoffs. 

They got to the playoffs with some strong play throughout September and October, but lost two of their last three league matches (to Rancho Cotate and Ukiah) before defeating Elsie Allen 3-0 in the season closer. Their final league record was a very respectable 7-3, placing them in third place in the North Bay Redwood league and earning a playoff position in the North Coast Section championships, ranked 11th of 12 teams.

They did win a set from Del Norte on Oct. 26, but it’s the final 3-1 total that goes in the record books and brings an end to their season. By the way, the NCS girls volleyball division 4 champion was Marin Academy, which had been ranked number one and proved it.

“It’s not too much to say it was a great year—I’m extremely proud and look forward to building off the season,” said Coach Richard Mitts, who promises to come back in 2023.

Cross Country

The biggest surprise in Greyhounds sports this season was sophomore Kaeden Anderson, who came in first in almost every cross country race he ran and ended up with the league championship. For instance, take the team’s second and final home meet at Hoot Owl Vineyard in Alexander Valley on Oct. 26: By the time Ukiah’s Andrew Tarin and Analy’s Cormac Gaylord were chasing each other to the finish line, Anderson had already gotten there a minute earlier, his 17:36 time easily besting Tarin’s 18:33. 

Though Healdsburg’s point total came in behind both Ukiah and Analy in that meet, they avenged the losses on Nov. 5 by outpointing Analy and tying them for second in the league (league leader Ukiah was undefeated). 

Though that league championship match went to Ukiah, which placed six runners in the top 10, it was Anderson who won the league’s individual title in a time of 17:24, 15 seconds over his nearest opponent. It gave Healdsburg their first individual title since Jason Mendes in 1996. 

“What really clinched this 2nd place team was the next three runners, Jake McWilliams, Matthew Nielsen and Harrison Threlfall,” reported Coach Mike Efram. “While Jake had his place from nearly the start, it was Matthew and Harrison who chased down and passed four Analy runners to flip the scoring to our advantage.” 

The girl runners too represented well, with freshman Beatrix Hawkes finishing second overall in the league behind only Cardinal Newman senior Siena Brunetti. “Even the super strong Analy girls couldn’t catch her as she sped up and down those hills!” enthused Efram. 

And Erick Gutierrez ran to a second place finish in the JV race, fast enough to join HHS other varsity runners at the upcoming Meet of the Champions, in Hayward on Nov. 16.

 “If all goes well, we may be taking at least someone to Fresno for the State Championship the day after Turkey Day,” said Efram. “Crossing our fingers that we stay healthy and not injured as the next few weeks roll out.”

Both girls tennis and golf teams played their season under the radar, but the winter sports teams are already recruiting and in practice. Winter sports include both boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, and wrestling. Most of these teams begin competing later this month, and schedules are still in development.However, the season starts this Saturday, Nov. 12, with a 3pm girls basketball game against Lower Lake, at Smith Robinson Gym. The girls are coming off a 7-3 record last year and second place in the North Bay Redwood, and have their eye on a league title in 2022-23.

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