Heart in Sole Santa Rosa, CA
Saucony/Heart and Sole Redwood Empire Runners of the Week!

Runner of the Week!


In an effort to recognize the hard work and achievements of many track and field athletes throughout the Redwood Empire, we have joined with Saucony to launch our Redwood Empire Runnerof the Week award! Each week, one boy and one girl will be awarded a custom silkscreened tech shirt in recognition of that week's accomplishments. So, without further ado, our 2011 Saucony/Redwood Empire Runners of the Week!

Runners of the Year

Luis Luna, senior, Piner

Luis Luna - photo credit Thomas Benjamin

Luna had nearly the perfect season, full of wins, medals, and records. While he took countless wins, including the prestigious Stanford and Scotty Bauhs invites, his biggest win came at the North Bay League Championsips. While the fact that he defended his title wasn't a surprise, it was how he shattered the course record, 14:43 down from 14:50, that really turned heads. He also led the Piner Prospectors to break the all-time team course record on the historic course. While he suffered his first defeat of the season the next week, he still took second at the NCS Championships, before placing 5th at the California State Division Three Championships. He also earned a team medal, as Piner turned back rival Campolindo by one point for the bronze. But arguably the race of the year came at the Footlocker West Regional, where he placed 7th to earn a berth to the Footlocker National Cross Country Championships. There he was 5th among West runners to finish 30th at the National Championships.

Nicole Lane, senior, El Molino

Nicole Lane - photo credit Thomas Benjamin

While a solid runner during the 2010 season, Lane moved up to become one of the greats in 2011. Her first race of the year was a dominating 18:17 on the Spring Lake course, and it was just more of the same for the rest of the season. She won the Ed Sias Invite, Viking Opener, Scotty Bauhs Invite, Clovis Invite, and took second at the prestigious Mt. SAC Invite. Then, in the post-season, she dominated the SCL Championships before taking the win for the North Coast Section crown. She capped the season by taking a medal at the California State Championships, placing 7th.

California State Championships

Alexandra Sciocchetti, senior, Fort Bragg

Alexandra Sciocchetti - photo credit Thomas Benjamin

Sciocchetti finished off a solid senior season with a top-50 finish in the California State Championships Division IV race. Her time of 19:46 for the 5K course put her at 5th for the North Coast Section in that race, as well as made her the 7th fastest Redwood Empire Runner for the day. But looking at place, which is what XC is all about, Sciocchetti did better than all but 4 girls from the Empire.

Jason Saler, senior, Piner

Jason Saler - photo credit Thomas Benjamin

Competing in the ever-stacked Division III race, Saler had a clutch performance to finish 53rd at the California XC Champs. He crossed the line in 16:19, which was nearly a minute faster than last year and the 6th fastest Empire time of the day. His performance was crucial in getting Piner on the State Podium, as they rival nipped Campolindo by one point for the bronze medal.

North Coast Section Championships

Harrison Luft, junior, Maria Carrillo

Harrison Luft- photo credit Thomas Benjamin

To say that Luft's 8th place finish in the Division II race at the NCS Championships was a good improvement from last year would be quite the understatement. In 2010, Luft finished 64th, and 7th for Maria Carrillo, in the Division III race. But it was a completely different Puma who roared home to a 15:49 clocking to lead his team to a second place finish - and a berth to the California State Cross Country Championships. This is the first time the Pumas have made the state meet since 2007. An impressive note: Luft finished only 10th at the NBL Championships, yet was 8th here at the more prestigious NCS Champs. If these trends continue at State...

Dezirae Johnson, senior, Piner

Dezirae Johnson- photo credit Jim Crowhurst

While Johnson may have considered herself more of a track runner - she is top-50 all-time in the 800m and the NBL runner-up - Johnson is 1-for-1 in cross country state meet qualifying for her career. That's right, in just her first year as an XC runner, Johnson earned a berth to the California State Championships in virtue of her 15th place finish in the Division III race, by far the deepest race of the day. Out of all five divisions, she was 5th fastest by an Empire athlete. Perhaps this newfound strength will transfer over into the 4-and-8-lap races come track season, but first Johnson has business at Woodward Park.

CMC Championships

Erin Thomas, sophomore, Mendocino

Erin Thomas - credit Thomas Benjamin

Thomas was the surprise winner of the CMC Championships, crossing the line 21:18, 9 seconds ahead of 2nd placer Katy Lee. That was quite the improvement from 9th last season, made even more impressive as she defeated the two-time defending champion. Only one other runner was even within a minute of Thomas. What's more, this is the first ever individual CMC title for a Mendocino harrier.

Jax Reiff, junior, Sonoma Academy

Jax Reiff- credit Thomas Benjamin

Reiff finished a solid second at the CMC Championships, covering the difficult Ft. Bragg 2.9 miler in 18:13. While he may have been over a minute back of champion - and new course record-holder Joe Carrillo - Reiff led his Coyotes to their second straight CMC title, and in great fashion. The Coyotes, led by Reiff, scored a near-perfect 20 points, as only Carrillo broke up their scoring five.

SCL Championships

Jessica Ohanlon, freshman, Petaluma

Jessica Ohanlon - photo credit Thomas Benjamin

While overshadowed by the performance of senior Nicole Lane, freshman Ohanlon turned heads in her first ever SCL Championships. While Ohanlon finished 4th in the SCL race, she was the first freshman across the line by over thirty seconds. Her time of 19:03 makes her the 14th fastest freshman in the history of the Spring Lake course, and third from the SCL. Combined with the NBL results the day before, she was 8th fastest over the weekend from all grades. But, perhaps most important, she led her Trojans to a second straight SCL title over Casa Grande, 44-47.

Ryan Douglas, junior, Petaluma

Ryan Douglas - photo credit Thomas Benjamin

Moving up one place from last year, Douglas crossed the line in a solid second at his junior SCL Championships. With Conner graduating in the spring, perhaps this sets Douglas up for the possibility of one more place increase, to the 2012 SCL Champion. With the inclusion of the NBL race the day before, Douglas was the 8th fastest runner on the weekend.

NBL Championships

Michael Tomasi, senior, Santa Rosa

Michael Tomasi - photo credit Michael Tomasi

Improving nearly 50 seconds and 8 places from last year, Tomasi led the Panthers with his 6th place finish at the NBL Championships, clocking 15:33 for the Spring Lake Course. That time placed him in a three-way tie for 29th on the all-time list, with the 1999 and 2007 NBL champs. For the combined NBL/SCL weekend, he was 7th, with only the SCL champ running faster on Saturday. Just as impressively, he was one of only three runners to break up Piner's scoring 5.

Brynna Thigpen, junior, Maria Carrillo

Brynna Thigpen - photo credit Thomas Benjamin

While only the third runner for the Pumas, Thigpen placed 4th overall in the NBL Championships. Crossing the line in 18:50, Thigpn finished over 10 seconds ahead of the second non-Puma in the race. As such, she helped Maria Carrillo to a dominant 26-60 win over Santa Rosa, their 8th outright title in the last 9 years. Overall, Thigpen was was 7th for the NBL/SCL weekend, and the third returner in the NBL.

Week Nine

Victoria Tomaszewski, sophomore, Windsor

Victoria Tomaszewski - photo Michael Lucid

Tomaszewski has had an impact on the SCL scene since the start of her frosh year, and she continued to impress in this last week of the regular season. In her final tri-meet, Tomaszewski placed second only to NorCal-ranked Nicole Lane, clocking 18:54 on the 3-mile Riverfront Park Course. This sets her up well for the SCL finals, to be held this Saturday, as no other runner even finished within 30 seconds of her.

Joe Carrillo, senior, Cloverdale

Joe Carrillo - photo credit Cate Summers

After having to run a season of JV due to transferring last year, everyone knew Carrillo would do some damage this season. This week was just more of the same, as he erased yet another CMC course record, this time one he co-held with 2-time CMC champ Kenny Smith, in a dominating win at Asti Winery. His time of 16:09 for the three-mile course was over a minute up of 2nd place, and confirms his place as favorite for the CMC crown next Wednesday.

Week Eight

Paul Holden, junior, Ukiah

Paul Holden - photo Michael Lucid

After an easy win against Maria Carrillo and Elsie Allen, Holden took to the very difficult Ukiah course forth Yoshaany Rahm Invite. There he dueled Piner's Jaime Silva to the line, as both clocked a scintillating 16:16, though Silva took away the win. That time moved him into a tie for 7th on the all-time list, ahead of some stud runners including Luis Luna.

Melissa Hansen, senior, Rancho Cotate

Melissa Hansen

Racing on the NBL-hosting Spring Lake course, Hansen recorded a league win over Montgomery HS. Clocking 19:29 for the 3.05mi distance, only one other athlete was able to stay within 2 minutes of Hansen. Added to earlier wins, including both at league meets and the Mariner Invite, Hansen is positioning herself to better her 5th place NBL finish from the 2010 season.

Week Seven

Sadia Ibrahim, junior, Santa Rosa

Ibrahim, like Johnson before her, continued her transformation from sprinter/middle distance trackster to XC studette. In a dual meet with Elsie Allen, Ibrahim dominated the 3.05 mile Spring Lake course, clocking 20:09. That not only earned her the win, but was over a minute faster than second place.

Efran Reyes, sophomore, Piner

Efran Reyes - photo credit Michael Lucid

Just a sophomore, Reyes has proved integral to the success of the dominate Piner program this season. First, on Wednesday, he helped lead a Piner sweep over Maria Carrillo, clocking 17:49 on the difficult 5K course, good enough for T-5th all-time. Then, on Saturday, he scorched a 16:15 on the State Meet course at the Roughrider Invite. That was good enough for 5th overall, and helped Piner to the title over NCS powerhouse Campolindo.

Week Six

Kevin Poteracke, junior, Petaluma

Kevin Poteracke

Poteracke had double duty this week, helping his team to an SCL win before an impressive individual showing at the prestigious Clovis Invite. But first, on Wednesday, Poteracke took second to highly-ranked Connor of Sonoma, as he finished the 2.75 miler in 14:22. That puts him #2 on the all-time list, and led Petaluma to a narrow 29-30 win. At Saturday's Clovis Invite, Poteracke took 10th in the DIII race, clocking 16:09 for the state-meet course. While this is slightly slower than his course best of 15:57 from the 2010 State Meet, it's significantly faster than the 16:24 he ran at this meet one year ago.

Andrea Natoli, freshman, Maria Carrillo

Andrea Natoli - photo Thomas Benjamin

Natoli continued to make her mark on the Empire this week, starting with a terrific performance on Wednesday. In placing second to teammate Kraus, Natoli clocked 18:18 for the 29th fastest time ever on the Spring Lake Course. More impressive, perhaps, is that it is the 3rd fastest freshman time ever, trailing only National Champion Sara Bei and State Champion Jacque Taylor. Then, on Saturday, Natoli absolutely dominated the Frosh-Soph race at the Crystal Springs Invite, running 18:57 to 2nd place's 20:41.

Week Five

Kyra Johnson, Piner, senior

Kyra Johnson - photo credit Dorothy Lane

Johnson - the reigning State 7th-placer in the 300m hurdles, is continuing to make a huge impact on the cross country scene. Despite racing roughly 16 times the distance as she's used to, Johnson can now lay claim to being one of the top girls in the Empire, as evidenced by her race at the Scotty Bauhs Invite. There she recorded the third-fastest time of the day (18:46) for the three-mile course, and placed second (to Nicole Lane) in the senior race.

Jaime Silva, Piner, junior

Jaime Silva - photo credit Dorothy Lane

While often overshadowed by teammate Luis Luna, Silva is undoubtedly one of the top boys in the Empire. On Saturday, he was second only to Luna at the Scotty Bauhs Invite, as he clocked 15:27 for the 3mile course. And, as this was a by-grade meet, he won his race by 8 seconds. In addition, his time is now the equal to the 22nd fastest 3mile ever run by an Empire athlete.

Week Four

Alexi Taylor, Cardinal Newman, senior

Alexi Taylor - photo Thomas Benjamin

Taylor edged out a razor-thin win in the Division IV race of the Stanford Invitational, clocking 15:49 for the 5K course. Taylor's race was the closest of the day, with the top 6 all within 4 seconds of each other. Guess it helps that Taylor is the reigning NBL 800m Champion!

Ashley Moffett, Casa Grande, junior

Ashley Moffett - photo credit Thomas Benjamin

Moffett placed a solid 11th in the Division II race at Stanford, finishing just under the 18 minute barrier. Her 18:54 is significantly faster than the 20:06 she clocked here last year, the year she went on to win the SCL and NCS titles. So look out for the rest of her 2011 season!

Week Three

Katy Lee, Sonoma Academy, junior

Katy Lee - photo Christopher Chung/Press Democrat

The reigning CMC Champion raced twice in Spring Lake this week, and both times influenced many big record-lists. First was a large interlock meet, where Lee ran away from the competition, running 18:30. Second place was 59 seconds back. That 18:30 moved her into a tie for 33rd fastest ever on the course, as well as making her the 20th fastest junior. O, and it shattered the SA school record (19:06) set by none-other than Lee herself. On Saturday, Lee took a strong second in the junior/senior race of the Viking Opener, losing only to senior Nicole Lane. Lee's time of 11:52 makes her the 18th fastest ever on the course, as well as the fastest ever from a CMC runner.

Alex Conner, Sonoma, senior

Alex Conner - photo Christopher Chung/Press Democrat

Conner had two races - and two wins - this week to cement himself as SCL favorite. First up was a Spring Lake interlock meet, where, despite not knowing the course and getting lost, Conner notched a phenomenal 15:47 personal best. That time puts him =45th on the all-time Spring Lake list, and shattered the old school record by 41 seconds. On Saturday, Conner took on top runners from the Bay Area at the De La Salle Invite, defeating them all handily - his time of 15:31 was over 10 seconds fastest than the next runner.

Week Two

Austin Rivas, Maria Carrillo, senior

Austin Rivas - photo credit Thomas Benjamin

Rivas made the jump from second-tier Empire runner to major NBL threat with his 3rd place finish at the Ed Sias Invite. Running nearly a minute faster than his time here a year ago, Rivas clocked 10:37.3 to earn bronze medal honors in the Varsity Large School race, and was just 5 seconds off the win.

Nicole Lane, El Molino, senior

Nicole Lane - photo credit Tony Lane

Lane, the reigning SCL 1,600m and 3,200m Champion, started her 2011 XC campaign in fine style, capturing her first two races. First up was an interlock at Spring Lake where she clocked 18:17. Only one other runner, Week One's Runner of the Week Lauren Kraus(18:21), was even within 50 seconds of Lane. Then on Saturday, in the Ed Sias Invite, she took a 10+ second win in the Small-Schools Varsity Race. Her time of 12:10.1 was the third-fastest on the day, behind only two DI runners. (El Molino is DIV)

Week One

Lauren Kraus, Maria Carrillo, junior

Lauren Kraus - photo credit Tom Benjamin

Kraus, the reigning NBL 1,600m and 3,200m champion, started her 2011 XC campaign in fine form, as she scored a 14-second win at the Rancho Invite. But even more impressive than the winning margin was the time of 17:49 for the 2.97 mile race. That time ranks as the third fastest ever on this course, behind only former state champion Jacque Taylor and 2010 XC Nationals bronze medalist Julie Nacouzi. And while the meet wasn't officially scored, if going by the standard scoring rules she would have let her MCHS Pumas to a strong win over reigning NBL Champions Santa Rosa, 28-55.

Luis Luna, Piner, senior

Luis Luna - photo credit Spencer Allen

Like last year, reigning NBL Champ Luna opened his XC season with a strong win at the Lagoon Valley Classic. While his time wasn't quite as fast as last year, he still scored an easy win of 13 seconds over teammate Jaime Silva, and had nearly 15 seconds before any other school had a runner in. On the team front, he led the Prospectors to a big 39-68 win over Division II power Bella Vista. Certainly a good sign for both Luna and the Piner Prospectors as they look to mine gold in the post-season.

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Athletes of the Week are picked solely by the Heart and Sole Staff, but we greatly value input from local COACHES. If any coach from the Empire has an athlete they wish to nominate, please contact us.