BENICIA — A pair of first-place individual finishes and a pair of second-place team finishes added up to a solid day for the Vanden High cross country teams Wednesday at the Solano County Athletic Conference championships at Benicia Community Park.
Vikings junior Alex Jenks broke the 20-minute mark on the 3.1-mile course on her way to the win in 19 minutes, 51 seconds.
“It was a tough race. My main thing is not being able to run last year and then bring it all back this year and try to do my best,” Jenks said.
Her best was plenty good on Wednesday as she finished a full 34 seconds ahead of Benicia’s Allie Yip.
“I’m pretty much just trying to be an inspiration to the other girls on the team,” Jenks said. “Just trying to build up their confidence while making myself better and trying to reach my goal of (reaching) state.”
Jenks missed much of last season battling tendinitis and roared back this season to take another SCAC crown.
“The race was hard, it was challenging,” she said. “The Benicia girls pushed me, I feel like I pushed them to do their best and pretty much it was a hard races and I pushed through it.”
Vanden coach Sherman Martinez was thrilled with Jenks’ win.
“Alex’s win was not unexpected,” Martinez said. “We’ve told her all year that to make state, she needs run under 20 minutes to and she did that.”
Darian Serr was second for Vanden, finishing seventh at 22:06. Katherine De Osuna was 14th at 25:45, Karin Zehm finished 17th in 27:31 and Annaise Renteria rounded out the top five finishing 18th at 28:05.
Fairfield’s Leah Canlas was 11th at 24:08 and Grecia Moral finished 16 in 27:22.
Benicia ran away with both team titles finishing with 22 points to Vanden’s 57 in the girls race and with 26 to Vanden’s 49 in the boys race.
The Panthers also won the season titles while the Vikings were second.
Vanden added another individual title to its collection when Kyle Somerville out kicked Benicia Nick Strohl in the final quarter mile.
Somerville came it at 16:36 and Strohl finished at 16:40.
“That race was crazy,” Somerville said. “Everybody was running faster than they should have been, and we all burned out before we even got coming back. But some of us just pushed through it.”
Starting the race with a sprint across a soccer field and up a steep hill, the boys all went out fast Wednesday.
“Like I say it was a crazy race,” Somerville said. “Nick actually passed me on the giant hill and I heard my coach saying, ‘Don’t give up now, it’s your senior year.’ And I caught him coming through the finish line just barely.”
Somerville won two years ago, just edging teammate Aidan Schraer in that race.
Vanden’s Jacque Henderson was sixth at 17:45, Schraer was 13th on Wednesday at 19:04. Jonathan Alexander-Barkley was 16th at 19:41.5, just edging teammate Victor Kusaka at 19:41.9. Euatace Ednacot rounded out Vanden’s top five finishing in 20:28.
For Somerville, the win was a good way to wrap up his high school career.
“It means a lot because my sophomore year I won and my junior year I missed it by a place,” he said. “I just pushed myself and told myself I could do it and sure enough I made it and it felt great.”
Martinez wasn’t too surprised by Somerville.
“Kyle was always a front runner,” Martinez said. “That was a great finish. he just left it all on the course.”
Fairfield’s Martin Cuevas finished 12th in 19 minutes flat, while teammate Terrell Jospeh was 22nd at 20:02.
In the frosh/soph races Vanden’s Justin Aavarez won on the boys’ side with a time of 11:21 and Sarah Elliott led the Vikings girls with a fourth-place finish in 15:35.
Reach Mike Corpos at6 427-6979, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.