The Half Moon Bay High School girls cross-country team had plenty of practice on the course before its biggest race of the season. The Central Coast Section race on Saturday morning marked the third straight race the Cougars had run at Crystal Springs in three weeks.
It appears that prep paid off as the team finished third with 97 points and, in doing so, qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation state meet on Nov. 30 in Fresno. Half Moon Bay is the only PAL team to make the state meet. Peninsula teams from Menlo School and Sacred Heart also qualified.
Half Moon Bay’s senior stars were the front-runners. Kendall Mansukhani finished third in 18 minutes, 56 seconds, and Claire Yerby was not far behind, coming in ninth in 19:09
But it was the effort of the next three scorers that secured the Cougars’ placement. The girls finished one point behind Sacred Heart Prep, and though they initially wished they could have bumped up one spot, head coach Paul Farnsworth explained the second-half effort was nothing short of extraordinary. At the 2-mile mark, the team was in fourth place behind San Lorenzo Valley. And it was not close, but nearly 20 points out.
“And then our girls ran such a great last mile, all of them, that they passed enough girls that they not only leapfrogged to third place, but they just barely missed grabbing second,” Farnsworth explained.
Jayda Bodas was 30th in 21:46, Natalie Curthoys was 34th in 21:54, Olivia Perez was 36th in 21:58, Layne Faust was 39th in 22:05, Anna Bikle came in 57th in 23:25.
The boys finished seventh overall with 190 points. The team’s five scorers had just a 36-second spread between them. King City, Scotts Valley and Menlo were the three state meet qualifiers.
The Cougars were led by Josh Warner-Carey and Kenny Jones, who finished neck and neck, with Warner-Carey edging Jones 17:10.81 to 17:10.89 for 31st place.
Charlie Vail ran 17:23 to finish 40th. Kohei Tanaka was 42nd in 17:29, Erik Garcia was 49th in 17:42, and Owen Wooliever was 91st in 18:45.
Farnsworth was extremely proud of his boys team at the end of their season. Warner-Carey and Vail ended their season with first team all-PAL recognition. Farnsworth also brought up Jones, who fought past an early season Achilles injury to have some solid performances in the second half of the season. He went from being the sixth and seventh runner to becoming one of the top team scorers at Crystal Springs the past few weeks.