Roseville middle school has long distance dialed in

Silverado Middle has won 14 cross country league titles in a row
By: Bill Poindexter, Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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A dynasty of a high school football program — let’s see, what was the name? Oh yes, De La Salle of Concord — came to the area for the first time two weeks ago to play a game, one that drew more than 10,000 fans to Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium.

There’s a dynasty in the Roseville area, too, and while this particular dynasty doesn’t draw TV cameras and crowds of 10,000, its success is every bit as impressive on its level.

Silverado Middle School in Roseville recently won its 14th consecutive cross country championship in the Foothill Intermediate Schools Athletic League. The FISAL is comprised of 15 schools, 13 of which have a cross country team, from Antelope to Auburn and Lincoln to Granite Bay.

John Clark is the head coach. Doug Irwin and former college runner Carrie Mangiapane are assistants. Clark and Irwin are co-athletic directors and P.E. teachers, and because Silverado stresses running in its program, Clark said he and Irwin are able to “ID” potential competitors. And, with 14 league titles in a row, the program sells itself to the student body.

Said Clark, “It’s now a self-fulfilling prophecy that kids want to come out” — to the tune of 94 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade boys and girls at the beginning of this season, nearly 10 percent of Silverado’s enrollment of just more than 1,000. Some high school football programs don’t draw that many kids.

Silverado had 40 runners at the starting line for the sixth- and seventh-grade boys race at the league finals at William Jessup University in Rocklin.

“Some (schools) don’t have 40 on their team,” Clark said.

Those numbers, and what they’re learning from Clark, Irwin and Mangiapane, has to make Woodcreek High School feel good. Silverado feeds Woodcreek. It may also help explain Woodcreek’s success. The Timberwolves’ boys and girls teams have qualified for the CIF State Championships in Fresno nine times each, including this season. The team included Clark’s son, Justin, a senior.

“I look at my job as trying to grab a hold of these kids and peak their interest, so when they go to Woodcreek they want to be a part of that program,” said Clark, whose daughter, Kacey, ran for Silverado’s eighth-grade squad this season.

As impressive as 14 league titles is, Silverado literally owned the FISAL meet this year. The Bears won the overall title and won all four divisions, too: sixth-seventh boys and girls and eighth-grade boys and girls. Silverado totaled 203 points. E.V. Cain of Auburn was a distant second with 452 and Olympus of Roseville third with 593. The Bears also won all five meets leading up to the finals.

“That really is the measure of your team,” Clark said. “This was a unique year for us.”

The FISAL added a consolation race at the league finals last year, a combo boys/girls event for runners who aren’t in the top seven on their team. Silverado runners placed first through seventh in this year’s consolation race.

Silverado blew away the seventh-grade boys field with 31 points, led by race winner Jorge Pena with a time of 8 minutes, 44 seconds over the 1.5-mile course. Brad Kelsey was third in 8:59.

The eighth-grade boys had 42 points with Matt Durel finishing third in 8:31 and Eric Thias sixth in 8:44. The eighth-grade Bears girls had 53 points. Angela Dipentino, whose older sister Rosemary ran for Woodcreek this season, placed second in 9:28, and Laura Bohannon was ninth in 10:18.

The seventh-grade girls race was the tightest for Silverado, which had 77 points to nose out Cooley Middle School of Roseville (84) and E.V. Cain (95).

Cooley runners finished second and third and then had a big gap to 20th, 28th and 31st. Cain’s top four girls finished 8th, 11th, 15th and 17th, but its fifth runner was 44th.

Silverado’s consistency paid off. Mikayla Cunney finished seventh in 9:38 and Claire Tami 12th in 9:44. The next four Bears came in 18th, 19th, 21st and 22nd.

Clark said each runner at Silverado sets goals and tries to attain them, regardless of their level. It paid off throughout the season when runners who were eighth through 10th on the ladder filled in for absent teammates and helped the Bears win.

“When each runner has an individual goal in mind, it makes it a lot better for them,” Clark said. “They always come to practice with some thought in mind: ‘This is what I’m working out for.’”

Contact Bill Poindexter at Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.