Local runners fare well at state cross country races

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Riley Martel-Phillips closed out her high school cross country career with a strong showing at the CIF State meet in Fresno on Saturday.

The Arcata senior placed 51st at the prestigious meet for the second straight year, but posted a more impressive time of 19 minutes, 35 seconds this time around, knocking almost 20 seconds off her time from last season.

Martel-Phillips was one of four local runners who qualified for the state meet, along with McKinleyville’s Adam Vera and West Wood and Fortuna’s Collin Stockwell.

The three-time local league champ was making her third appearance at the state championships, and posted her best time ever there.

Vera, meanwhile, placed 65th in the boys Division IV race in a time of 16:51, with Wood placing 102nd in a time of 17:15.

Vera, a senior, was making his third trip to the state meet as well, while his sophomore teammate was making his first.

“They were happy with the way it went,” Mack head coach Amber Coley said. “It was a solid race for both of them.

“State is just really large and intense, and the amount of people there is intense. They were pretty crowded in.”

For Vera, a two-time Humboldt-Del Norte League champion, it was a strong showing to close out his prep cross country career, while for Wood, the experience will be hugely beneficial going forward.

“It was an awesome experience,” Coley said. “West, he’s just a sophomore, and getting that experience under his belt will help him.”

Race conditions were close to ideal for the runners, with the ground damp after the recent rains, but no rain during the competition.

No word on how Stockwell fared, although the Huskies sophomore was carrying an injury into the weekend and his status for the race was uncertain.

It was an emotional week for all the runners involved, with their North Coast Section championship canceled on Tuesday due to poor air quality in the Bay Area, and all four moving on after being selected by an advancement committee.

Martel-Phillips was expected to compete with her teammates in Fresno, but the Tigers were controversially overlooked by the committee.

“With the events of the last week, and the mental aspect of it all, I was really proud of them for running a solid race,” Coley said.


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