The fairytale story continues for Scotts Valley’s Ashlyn Boothby after another stellar performance at the Central Coast Section Cross Country Championships nearly two weeks ago.
The standout Falcons senior runner captured her third straight individual section title by winning the Division IV race in 17 minutes, 52.2 seconds at Crystal Springs course in Belmont on Nov. 11.
Boothby finished with the best overall time in a field of 450 runners within the section en route to helping the Falcons girls’ team capture its third straight team section title with a score of 46.
“For me at least, it’s the end of an era. I’m always gonna be checking it with my girls, they can’t get rid of me that easily,” Boothby said. “I’m gonna miss it.”
Fellow teammate sophomore Ava Decleve (18:31.1) was right behind Boothby in second, followed by sophomore Jenni Brownfield (19:50.5) in 10th and freshman Hanna Shehorn (19:57.1) in 11th.
Scotts Valley also earned a trip to the CIF State Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday.
On top of an individual and team CCS title, Boothby verbally committed to compete at Stanford University in 2024.
“Kinda nice to have that weight off my chest,” she said. “I just wanted to come out here and have fun, and not have to worry about any of that college stress anymore.”
It’s been an unusual 2023 season for the Falcons, who were plagued with several injuries, including a pair of runners who all of a sudden had foot problems prior to the section finals.
Scotts Valley coach Todd Hoffman said it’s been a challenging time but the girls team stayed together and focused.
“They just supported each other, lifted each other up and they’re a true family,” he said. “Today it showed and they just came out and really did well.”
Hoffman said Boothby did exactly what she usually does as one of the premiere runners in the section, while Decleve has a fight in her that she’s just figuring out.
Decleve’s plan was to stick around the top runners to help her stay at the front of the pack. She also made it a point to push harder on the hills to separate herself from that same group.
“This course is not flat,” she said. “I like the hills, they’re fun. It hurts, so I was just trying to do my best and finish.”
Brownfield and Shehorn stepped up tremendously as Violet McCutchen (21:49.2; 35th), Diana Alivov (22:40.5; 51st) and Dylan Turzak (22:45.9; 53rd) were slowly returning from injuries.
“They really fought and I can just see the determination, and the grit,” Hoffman said. “I’m so proud of them, they were running for their team. It’s not just not just our team that’s here, we’re a family and every person on that roster was here today because we needed them.”
Ben George, a senior, took third in 16:11.9 but the Falcons boys’ team wasn’t able to repeat as D-IV champions.
Scotts Valley took second with a team score of 64, just slightly behind champion Riordan High (59) and ahead of Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League rival Santa Cruz High (91) in third. All three teams qualified for the CIF State Championships.
Aaron Weiss (16:15.8) placed sixth, followed by Mason Lantz (16:42.8; 11th), Eli Granados (16:45.1; 13th), Jackson Stull (17:42.6; 39th), Spencer George (18:53.2; 79th) and Alex May (19:29.7).
Spencer George made his return from a stress fracture and it was his second race since September.
“It was just incredible to have him back,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman saw the expression of disappointment on their faces at the end of the race, yet he believes the boys team left everything out on the course.
“As a coach, I can’t ask for anything else,” Hoffman said. “I’m so proud of what this team has done and been through and fought through this year.”
The SCCAL Championships was the first time the boys and girls varsity teams all ran together.
Hoffman said every other meet was him trying to piece together a team.
The Falcons are now headed to compete at this weekend’s CIF State finals in Fresno.
Hoffman believes all the runners are capable of climbing the ranks, especially after the type of performance they had last year.
“I’m excited for it and now that the tickets are punched, now it’s all just frosting on the cake,” Hoffman said. “We can just have fun and just go and there’s no pressure.”
Decleve also hopes to have a great time in Fresno.
“Just enjoying it, spending time together every little moment we have,” Decleve said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Boothby said it was nice to end the CCS finals on a good note, but they’ll make sure to bring their “A” game to Fresno.
“It’s my last cross country race ever as a member of the Falcons,” she said. “I’m gonna make the most of it and really savor every moment with my team.”