Woodcreek teams up for another trip to state meet

Timberwolves boys, girls qualify for ninth time each; Granite Bay’s Brendel, Bell win Division II section races
By: Bill Poindexter, Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Woodcreek High School can be counted upon to qualify its boys and girls cross country teams for the State Championships about as much as that meet can be counted upon to be held at Woodward Park in Fresno.

While each Timberwolves team was qualifying for the state meet for the ninth time with a slew of needed personal-record performances at the Sac-Joaquin Section Meet, Granite Bay senior Trent Brendel was adding another title to his haul Saturday at Folsom High School.

Brendel won the Division II race and had the quickest time of the day on the Willow Hill course at 15 minutes, 35 seconds, and freshman teammate Maggie Bell hit the tape first in the Division II varsity girls event at 17:45, the second-best time overall in a girls field of 354.

With senior Karina Nunes leading the way, Woodcreek’s girls earned the third and final team berth in Division I. In the boys race, finishes of fourth and fifth by seniors Jon Horvath and Justin Clark propelled the Timberwolves to a runner-up effort behind Davis.

“We were very pleasantly surprised,” Woodcreek coach Terri McKillop said, adding that both teams went into their races as underdogs with the boys ranked third and the girls fourth. “They showed up for battle. It was a real exciting day. When the girls pulled that third spot, I think it fueled the boys a little bit.”

Perfect weather (55 degrees with no wind or rain), familiarity with the course and a motivating speech from the coaches gave Woodcreek a boost. McKillop recalled telling her team, “We practice on that course. We drive out there once a week; now go out there and own it.”

Junior Taylor Guinnip and sophomores Luis Romo and Spencer Lachman finished 14th, 27th and 29th for the Timberwolves.

For the girls, Nunes finished ninth with a time of 19:01, a school record at Willow Hill, and freshman Lauren Mason was 10th in 19:11, an incredible time, according to McKillop. Sophomore Devyn Everts was 24th, junior Rosemary Dipentino 31st, and senior Brooke O’Brien returned from a stress fracture to finish 32nd.

“She had to have a great race for us to move on,” McKillop said of O’Brien.

Brendel started the season by winning the Del Oro Invite for the first time. He went on to capture the Hornet Jamboree, Stanford Invite and Sierra Foothill League championship and then won the Division II subsection and section titles for the second time each.

Granite Bay coach Carla Kehoe said Brendel’s plan Saturday was to stay in front and see how he felt heading into the last mile. Brendel then pulled away a little earlier than normal and beat Sean Jagerson of Del Campo by nine seconds with Roseville sophomore Neilson Powless third at 15:45 in a field of 381.

“He’s just been on a nice developmental path for four years,” Kehoe said. “When he gets into a race now, he knows what he wants to, and he knows how to execute it.”

Granite Bay’s girls also qualified for state by placing third. After Bell, junior Katie Mersereau finished fourth, and junior Rylee McKeon was 11th, senior Allison Daly 31st and freshman Nichole Zenzola 32nd.

In other races:

  • Oakmont junior Marisa Carino placed eighth in the Division III varsity girls race and qualified for the state meet.
  • Logan Taggart and Tanner Moore of Oakmont finished 1-2 in the Division III freshman boys race and were 3-4 in all divisions in a field of 188.
  • Christian Woolfolk and Ian Miller of Oakmont were second and third in the Division III sophomore boys race.