Alumni prevail again at the 8th Annual Alumni Race

It's another strong turnout for the 8th edition of this classic MVXC event. Perfect race weather helped lead to fast times, as numerous top ten and PR marks were achieved. For example - 5 of the top 10 girls all-time marks were established today! A small but talented group from the current team showed up to push former teammates, making for a spirited competition.

The social hour before the race was once again a special time, as alumni from as far back as 2000 showed up today. Connecting with former teammates and coaches is always the best part (former coaches Mike Huntsman and Scott Camp attended today, with Mike handling the timing and Scott braving the course to finish in 20th place).

The seriousness of upcoming race was quickly evident though, as groups of alumni and current team members split off and started their warmup ritual. Proving that the day is meant to be fun, some alumni warmed up by tossing a frisbee - convinced that a loose upper body was the most important thing!

At 9:30, after a "MV-XC" cheer, the horn blast sent the group sprinting through the Oak Hill Park field and off onto the course. Lead from the start by the alumni boys - specifically SF Gator teammates Drew Feldman and Michael Garaventa - the race pace was fast and furious. A soggy lower field didn't seem to slow the group down much, as everyone hit the track at a fast clip - regardless of the upcoming Eliminator and second mile hills.

Going into the hills, Jake Auby from the current team had moved into 4th, breaking up a solid alumni pack. Alumni Bhavik Kanzaria, recently graduated after running at UCSB, moved into 2nd place. Coach and Alumni John Behring held down the 5th place position, just ahead of several current team boys (Ryan Olson, Andre Starr, Taylor Lee).

On the girls side, Nicole Aha (UC Davis) set a strong pace, trying to defend her 2012 title. Current team members Brooke Starn and Erin Herting battled with recent alumni Katharine Smiley (Tulane) heading into the hills. In typical girls race fashion, alumni and current members were all mixed up and changing positions, making the outcome of the race WAY to close to call.

In the mid pack, smiles and jokes mixed with moans and sweat, as alumni and current team members alike settled into the race. Many frosh team members were running their first high school event, and doing a solid job of it! While some alumni had promised to "wog" the course (highly encouraged to do so by the coaches), the pace suggested otherwise!

Heading down the hill and into the park, Drew held a now commanding lead - pressing all the way to the finish to take the boys race title. His 10:45 time was the 3rd fastest all-time. Bhavik and Michael were 2nd and 3rd, with Jake finishing ahead of John to complete the top 5 for the boys. Nicole came into the park with a strong lead as well, although her pursuers were clearly in sight. Nicole pressed hard to the chute, finishing in a new Alumni Race girls record time of 13:14! Seconds later, Brooke crossed the line, just ahead of Erin and Katharine. UNLV grad Brett Zorich (2012 NCAA DI Championship Meet qualifier - 800 meters - and current Bay Area Track Club member) had moved up strong to nail down the 5th spot in a PR time of 13:40.

Despite placing 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 13th, the current boys couldn't overcome the strong alumni showing up front, leading to the Alumni Boys taking a clear 20-38 victory. Former 2008 NCS individual champion Mike Roderick sealed the deal today as 5th runner for the veterans, finishing in 9th place. With back-to-back-to-back wins, the Alumni Boys now hold a strong 5-3 edge.

On the girls side, the outcome was very much in doubt, as the current team had four runners in to the alumni girls three. However, running side by side the entire race, recent grads Elena Smith and Ellie Harvey rounded the final turn and closed the door on the scoring - leading the alumni to a close 27 - 29 victory. With the victory, the girls side is knotted up at 4 wins for each squad.

Soph Edgar Karimi, in his first XC race, was voted the Rookie Award, with his solid 15th place showing. Alumni race veteran Marilyn Kushnick, only three months removed from the birth of her first baby (Paul - a future MVXCer???) received the special Coaches Award medal for her gallant effort.

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