Sullivan Middle School won two of the four team races at their first North County middle school cross country league meet held Sept. 13 at Dos Picos Park in Ramona while three Sullivan student-athletes finished first in their races.
Sullivan’s sixth grade and seventh grade girls team took first place, as did Sullivan’s eighth-grade girls. Team points are derived by adding the positions of a school’s first five finishers, and the 6th and 7th place finishers are used for breaking ties.
The eighth grade boys tied for first place, although the Wildcats lost the tiebreaker of the faster sixth runner. Sullivan’s sixth grade and seventh grade boys took second place.
Avery Lynas won the race for sixth grade and seventh grade girls; Paige Gartner was the first finisher in the eighth grade girls race, and Preston Lopez took first place in the eighth grade boys competition.
“I’m super excited,” said Sullivan coach Tamara Miller, noting that five teams participated in the season-opening meet. “The teams that were there were highly competitive. It definitely was a very competitive meet.”
The sixth grade and seventh grade Sullivan girls ended their race with 33 points. Martin Luther King Middle School in Oceanside placed second with 55 points.
“They won by a lot,” said Miller. “It was awesome.”
The course for all four races was 1.60 miles long. Lynas won her race with a time of 9 minutes and 57 seconds.
“Avery Lynas is looking like she could honestly make it to the state level,” Miller said. “She’s that good of a runner.”
For high school cross country meets, the five fastest or three fastest runners, depending on enrollment division, at the CIF San Diego Section meet not affiliated with a school are invited to the state meet.
The second-place runner, Jennifer Parker of Olive Peirce Middle School in Ramona, had a time of 10:37. She was followed by two Sullivan harriers; Maya Papoulias had the third-place time of 10:43, and Lacey Fabry earned fourth place for her 10:49 performance.
A time of 11:10 gave Ashley Fawcett tenth place. Ariel Adicoff completed the course in 11:45 for 15th place.
A school’s sixth and seventh finishers are not scored but can add points to opponents’ totals by forcing them to take higher finishing places. Ava Papoulias was the 23rd finisher with 12:34. Haylie Horn took 37th place with a time of 13:55.
The race had 65 runners including the seven from Sullivan.
“They’re very determined kids,” Miller said of her runners. “They’re working so well together.”
Last year the Sullivan sixth grade and seventh grade girls won the league championship; all of those girls were seventh grade student-athletes for the 2016-2017 school year and are now in eighth grade.
“They are a brand new team,” Miller said of this year’s sixth grade and seventh grade girls.
The current eighth grade girls team accumulated 22 points.
“They did darn good,” Miller said.
Martin Luther King Middle School had the second-place score of 36 points.
Gartner posted a time of 9:35 for the individual victory. Mary Loring of Olive Peirce took second at 9:51.
The second Sullivan finisher placed third overall; Camille Pokletar had a time of 10:06. Jordan Fawcett completed the course in 10:46 for fifth place. Milana Collier finished in seventh place with her time of 11:22. Aiden Miller posted a time of 12:00 for 11th place. The positions added for team scores are based only on full teams; Olive Peirce did not field the minimum five runners for a team score nor did North Terrace Middle School in Oceanside.
Kaylee Lacomb was Sullivan’s sixth finisher and placed 22nd with a time of 12:57. Gartner, Pokletar, Fawcett, Collier, Miller and Lacomb all ran in last year’s league meet which gave Sullivan the league championship.
“I am looking forward to seeing them win the league championship back to back years,” Miller said.
Sullivan’s seventh finisher in the eighth grade girls race, Dana Flinn, had a time of 13:28 to place 25th overall.
The finishes in the eighth grade boys race gave Sullivan and San Marcos Middle School 38 points apiece, but the sixth-place San Marcos runner finished 13th and beat the Sullivan fifth-place finisher as well as the Wildcats’ sixth-place runner. Lopez won that race in 9:08 with Martin Luther King eighth-grader Jaden Jacobs posting a time of 9:22 for second place.
Seventh-place finisher Kiefer Elkins raced for 9:49. Ethan McFarland earned eighth place with his time of 9:52. Robert McAuley took twelfth place with a 10:11 performance. The sixth finisher for San Marcos completed the race in 10:24. Max Hendricks had the 16th place with 10:29. Logan Adams had a time of 10:33 for 17th place. Sullivan’s seventh finisher Jason Reyes finished 26th among the 46 total runners with a time of 11:11. One of Sullivan’s faster eighth-grade boys missed the meet due to medical reasons.
Olive Peirce runners finished first, second, third, fifth and sixth in the race
for sixth grade and seventh grade boys.
“They basically had a perfect cross country score,” Miller said.
A perfect score is 15 points. The Bullpups of Olive Peirce Middle School feed into Ramona High School, whose nickname is the Bulldogs. They totaled 17 points with Sullivan’s Jayelon Rogers preventing a full Olive Peirce sweep.
“These five guys are something we’re going to have to work really hard to break up,” Miller said.
Rogers broke the Olive Peirce pack to finish fourth with a time of 9:49. The initial Bullpups contingent was followed by Sullivan’s Beckett Payne, whose time of 10:13 gave him seventh place. William Christopherson had the 13th place with his time of 10:45. Shawn Sidley posted a time of 10:47 for 15th place. Ashton Strange ended the race as the 16th finisher with 10:50. Bode Estabrook had a time of 10:53 for 17th place. Luke Wilbert finished in 10:57 and was the 20th runner across the finish line.
Cross country emphasizes pack running, and the 12-second spread between Sullivan’s third and seventh finishers is encouraging to Miller.
“The potential’s already there,” she said.
Sullivan had a score of 55 points in the eighth grade boys race. Martin Luther King placed third with 83 points.
“They are super determined to break up this Olive Peirce team,” Miller said.
Two other Sullivan runners were among the top third in the 75-athlete race; the Wildcats also had the 21st and 23rd finishes.
“There are a ton of them that are highly competitive,” Miller said.
Miller, who ran cross country for Fallbrook High School before graduating in 1993, began teaching at Sullivan in 2014 and founded the Wildcats’ cross country team in 2015. Sullivan had 15 runners during 2015 and 33 competitors in 2016. This year’s team has 19 sixth graders alone.
“I’m really excited to add them to the team,” Miller said.
One of Sullivan’s girls had a slower time because one of the Martin Luther King girls twisted her ankle during the race and the Sullivan student-athlete interrupted her own run to help her competitor down the hill.
“This is why I love my runners,” Miller said. “We talk a lot about being a good sport and positive role model.”