Kyra Pretre was admittedly pretty out of it upon crossing the finish line.
The exhaustion was understandable as the Menlo senior fronted the best finish in the history of the school’s girls’ cross-country program at the CIF State Cross Country Championships Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno.
Even if what Pretre misheard was true — the senior, dizzy from taking 13th place individually in the Division IV race thought she heard the announcer say Menlo took fifth place as a team — it would have marked a new program record.
“That kind of scared me a little bit,” Pretre said. “But I think I knew we could do what we did.”
What Menlo did was claim second place in the Division IV race, reaching the team podium for the first time in school history and obliterating the previous program record of 11th place, set last year.
Pretre — the top placer from the Central Coast Section in the Division IV meet — finished with a time of 18 minutes, 27.2 seconds on the three-mile course. She had four other teammates finish in the top 50 in the field of 213 of the best Division IV runners from around the state. Menlo junior Alexandra McCusker took 26th individually with a 18:47.5; senior Amanda Foster placed 34th at 18:56.3; senior Cameron Boom place 37th at 18:58.1; junior Marisa Castagna placed 44th at 19:09; and senior Katie Aufricht placed 47th at 19:12.1.
Menlo senior Charlotte Tomkinson, the team’s top finisher in 17th at state last season, did not compete Saturday, having been out of action since September due to injury.
“It was one of our big goals to podium this year, and we definitely thought we could vie for that first-place spot,” Pretre said. “When Charlotte went out, that was definitely less of a possibility … but we tried not to let that change our goals going forward.”
The Menlo boys’ team enjoyed a historic performance as well, taking 15th place in the Division IV race, the best finish ever for the program. Menlo junior Kamran Murray fronted the effort, placing 19th individually with a time of 15:56.1.
Menlo junior Calvin Katz placed 29th with a time of 16:09.1; freshman Justin Pretre placed 103rd at 16:57.4; senior Jackson Aldrich placed 130th at 17:24.1; and senior Luke Virsik placed 166th at 18:03.
Tomkinson is slated to return in the spring for track season, where the Menlo girls have also enjoyed a historic run. The Lady Knights capped the 2019 track season with the program’s first CCS championship.
Pretre — who is committed to compete at Yale next season — put the accomplishments of the Menlo girls’ team into perspective, even if the best is yet to come on the track in the spring.
“It’s been so special getting to run with these girls for the last three or four years,” Pretre said. “I think our team is so, so unique. So, I think it’s going to be hard to find another group of girls that is so close-knit. … It’s definitely been a long and historic and exciting ride. And I’m really, really glad I’ve got to be a part of it.”
Crystal freshman takes fourth
Crystal Springs Uplands freshman Kaiya Brooks took fourth place individually in the Division V girls’ race with a time of 18:11.1. The Crystal girls placed 10th as a team.
The Crystal boys placed seventh in the Division V meet, led by senior Wilser Vasquez who took 14th individually at 16:07.4. Senior Jake Symonds took 26th at 16:30.5.
At the Division V level, Crystal Springs Uplands reached the podium in two team disciplines, claiming third place in each the girls’ and boys’ meets.
In the Division III girls’ race, El Camino sophomore Noe Diep took 17th place individually with a time of 18:31.4.