When the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League was given the green light to allow the cross country season to proceed, most coaches and students figured they’d get to at least one or two meets, at the most.
Six weeks later, and with no reported Covid-19 outbreaks, the league managed to host its championship race on March 26.
Scotts Valley freshman Ashlyn Boothby won the race in 17 minutes, 31 seconds at the 2.95-mile course at Pinto Lake County Park in Watsonville. It was the first time this season that she finished ahead of her sister, Amber, who placed second (17:59).
“I did not expect to be able to beat all these people because I’m just a young freshman who’s first starting out,” Ashlyn said. “The amount that I’ve improved looking at the beginning of the season and now is incredible and I’m really happy with it.”
The Boothby sisters finished ahead of Santa Cruz senior Isabel Sanchez who placed third (18:04) and Watsonville senior Layla Ruiz in fourth (18:06).
The race also happened to be the last one for several seniors including Aptos High’s Susana Estrada and Kirsten Martin, who placed fifth (18:43) and sixth (18:44), respectively.
The Mariners, who had five of their runners place in the top-10, captured the team title with 28 points. Scott Valley finished second (37) and Soquel (63), San Lorenzo Valley (127) and Harbor (133) followed.
“We definitely knew it was a challenge,” Estrada said. “We knew [Scotts Valley] would be our greatest competition, so we knew we had to race our best.”
This year, there are no Central Coast Section or state championships due to the pandemic.
The updated Covid-19 guidelines for youth sports forced league officials to split the runners into two heats, with the faster runners going in the second group.
Both sisters were part of the second heat, but they were still split up because the runners took off in separate waves. It was the first time that Ashlyn didn’t have her running partner beside her, cheering her on.
“I couldn’t pace with [Amber], which is what usually helps me a lot,” she said. “I had to run by myself, pace myself. It was kind of tricky because I didn’t know how fast I was going in terms of placement, it was tough.”
Amber said her biggest setback was trying to come back from an injury, which prevented her from running at a high level.
“My main thing was just to try and run as hard as I could and I did that,” she said. “I’m pretty happy.”
The SCCAL finals marked the end of the cross country season but many of the runners will be back out for the first track and field dual meets scheduled next week.
“We’re going to dive right into track practice after a few rest days,” Ashlyn said.
1. Aptos, 28
2. Scotts Valley, 37
3. Soquel, 63
4. SLV, 127
5. Harbor, 133
1. Ashlyn Boothby (Scotts Valley), Fr., 17:31
2. Amber Boothby (Scotts Valley), So., 17:59
3. Isabel Sanchez (Santa Cruz), Sr., 18:04
4. Layla Ruiz (Watsonville), Sr., 18:06
5. Susana Estrada (Aptos), Sr., 18:43
6. Kirsten Martin (Aptos), Sr., 18:44
7. Emma McCain (Soquel), Sr., 19:19
8. Summer Jacob (Aptos), So., 19:36
9. Annie Eikemeyer (Aptos), Jr., 19:43
10. Rachel Hoops (Aptos), Fr., 20:00