Running with the big boys
Half Moon Bay's Kohei Tanaka runs in the Artichoke Invitational on Saturday. August Howell / Review

The road to recovery can be a long one, as Kendall Mansukhani knows.

In her second race since breaking her foot last track season, the senior at Half Moon Bay High School ran 14 minutes, 46 seconds, good for fifth place in the girls varsity smallschool race at the Artichoke Invitational at Half Moon Bay on Saturday.

While Mansukhani believed she still has some fitness to gain, she said it was encouraging to know she was steadily recovering. She finished 46 seconds behind Miramonte’s Audrey Allen, one of the top runners in the state.

The Half Moon Bay girls, already with a small roster, opted to race several runners in multiple races, but didn’t have a scoring five to produce a team score. Mansukhani was the only Cougar in the varsity race, as Half Moon Bay’s top runner, Claire Yerby, is still recovering from a leg injury. The two will be a formidable duo when both are able to race healthy this year.

“They’re simply amazing leaders,” head coach Paul Farnsworth said. “They’re very talented to begin with, but they work real hard, they always have a smile on their face, and are inclusive with their teammates.”

The 2.3-mile race has grown into one of the largest invitationals on the Peninsula, drawing schools from as far as San Diego and Sacramento. With nearly 2,700 registered runners from nearly 100 schools, the Artichoke Invitational was split into two categories for large and small schools.

Farnsworth was proud of his two runners in the girls junior varsity race. Layne Faust finished second overall in 16:57. Julia Minkstein finished with a strong kick to place 73rd in 20:59. In the frosh-soph race, Jayda Bodas finished 12th in 16:30, Olivia Foster was 17th in 16:47, and Anna Bikle was 50th in 18:01.

Jeremy Kain, of Scotts Valley, was the first varsity boy to cross the line in 12:11. He led his team to a commanding team victory, which saw all five scorers in the top 25.

In the boys varsity race, Charlie Vail was the top finisher for the Cougars, coming in 41st in 13:31. Half Moon Bay was eighth overall with 310 points. Vail said some varsity team members were absent as they were taking an SAT.

Kohei Tanaka was the next Cougar finisher, coming across at 48th in 13:35. He was followed by Erik Garcia, 53th in 13:39; Thomas Hurrell, 76th in 13:56; Arthur McKenzie, 111th in 14:20; and Kenny Jones, 125th in 14:31.

“I feel like our race is becoming big for small schools,” Tanaka said. “We’re pulling schools from Southern California and Sacramento. I feel like that’s exciting to see this many people here.” r

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