The freshmen girls and junior boys stole the show at Saturday’s H-DNL cross country championships at the Arcata Marsh.
As expected, Arcata freshman Ai-Lan McGoldrick capped a magnificent season on the North Coast with her seventh win in seven league races, timing 20 minutes, 14.31 seconds and beating out the field by more than 45 seconds.
The first-year high school runner was one of six freshmen to place in the top nine in the girls race, with 12 of them finishing in the top 21.
The boys race featured a more exciting climax, with McKinleyville junior West Wood making his move 300 meters from the line on the way to edging out the win in a time of 16:31.92.
Eureka junior Ian Bennett took second in a time of 16:45.53 to lead a Loggers team that had four of the top eight finishers and won the team competition.
Less than 15 seconds separated the second through fourth runners, with Fortuna junior Collin Stockwell third and Arcata sophomore Jude Ortega fourth.
Four different schools were represented in the top four.
But it was Wood who stole the show.
“He was just very, very patient,” McKinleyville coach Jim Hebert said. “He hung right where he was supposed to be and put himself in a position to move later.
“And I think the biggest thing is he was patient. He was smart about it.”
With four juniors and a sophomore making up the top five finishers, the excitement surrounding this group’s rivalry isn’t going anywhere.
“It’s just phenomenal,” Hebert said. “And it’s really fun to watch them every time together. Between all of them, they’ve each won this year.”
Arcata’s Miles Johnson was fifth, followed by three straight Eureka runners, Jaeden Thayer, Diego Gonzales and Jordan Urban.
Fortuna’s Logan Calvert placed ninth, followed by Arcata’s Isaac Johnson in 10th and Northcoast Prep’s Jaxon Peaker in 11th.
Eureka scored 41 points, with Arcata (48) and Fortuna (69) rounding out the top three.
As expected, the Arcata girls comfortably won their team competition, scoring 21 points and placing well ahead of Eureka (49) and Fortuna (61).
The Tigers had six of the the top-10 finishers, including four freshmen and a sophomore, so they should continue to dominate for some time.
Eureka junior KyleeAnna Zink-Clinton saved her best for last with her most impressive finish of the season timing a PR of 21:00.6 to place second, five seconds ahead of Arcata junior Vivian Gerstein in third.
Arcata freshman Alauna Thompson was fourth with Fortuna senior Maggie Stacy in fifth.
Four freshmen made up the sixth through ninth finishers, with Arcata’s Zoe Macknicki followed in turn by teammate Raven Alvarez, Eureka’s Charlotte Leonard and Fortuna’s Ella Owsley.
Arcata sophomore Sydney Trieu was 10th.