The Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League boys cross country championships have traditionally produced epic finishes.
This year’s meet on March 26 was no different.
Scotts Valley High junior Jeremy Kain and Aptos High senior Ben Laughlin made last week’s race another one to remember as they battled until the very end of the 2.95-mile course at Pinto Lake County Park in Watsonville.
Kain won the race in a blazing 14 minutes, 49 seconds, beating Laughlin by less than a second. The two were neck and neck throughout until the final 400 meters, which is where Kain began pulling away.
“We both went for it and as soon as I felt him come up on me I was like, ‘I gotta just go. You’ve worked so hard Jeremy, you can’t let him take it from you,’” Kain said.
Kain, who was the returning SCCAL champion, mentioned that he felt “normal” for once after being around so many different runners from just about every school within the county.
The Falcons took home the team title with 29 points, edging the Mariners (31) by just two points. Soquel High finished with 117, followed by Santa Cruz High (122) and San Lorenzo Valley High (128).
Scotts Valley senior Patrick Goodrich placed third (15:03), followed by Aptos seniors Aidan Tomasini (15:17) and John Eikemeyer (15:25).
“Everyone brought it to the table today and we did what we needed to do and that was win,” Kain said. “It was a lot of fun.”
The biggest difference this year, of course, was the updated Covid-19 guidance for youth sports. The new guidelines forced league officials to split the runners into two heats, with the faster runners going in the second group. The runners also had to social distance before sprinting off from the starting line.
Like most athletes, Laughlin said he wished for a first-place finish but overall he was ecstatic about the results.
“If I had to lose to someone it’d be Jeremy [Kain],” he said.
Laughlin’s goal prior to the race was to finish in 15:09. He never thought he’d be able to make up so much time.
Kain also wasn’t expecting to break the 15-minute mark, and said his focus was to help the Falcons capture the team title.
“Honestly I was just going for the win,” he said. “I think the time kind of came through in itself because to win the race we had to go that fast.”
In February, most coaches and students figured they’d get at least one or two meets at the most this season. However, six weeks later and with no reported Covid-19 outbreaks, the league was able to host a championship race.
“We finished our cross country season and I think after this race it’s a pretty good feeling going into the next few races of track,” he said.
1. Scotts Valley, 29
2. Aptos, 31
3. Soquel, 117
4. Santa Cruz, 122
5. SLV, 128
1. Jeremy Kain (Scotts Valley), Jr., 14:49
2. Ben Laughlin (Aptos), Sr., 14:50
3. Patrick Goodrich (Scotts Valley), Sr., 15:03
4. Aidan Tomasini (Aptos), Sr., 15:17
5. John G. Eikemeyer (Aptos), Sr., 15:25
6. Julian Vargas (St. Francis), Jr., 15:54
7. Jack Brownfield (Scotts Valley), So., 15:55
8. Eli Ainsowrith (Soquel), Sr., 16:06
9. Trent Nosky (Aptos), So., 16:17
10. Ryder Brabo (Scotts Valley), Jr., 16:28