Eng places 11th in division at state meet

Lars Eng/Special to the Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Eng runs in Saturday’s state cross-country meet in Fresno. He placed 11th in his division.

Returning six of its top seven runners, the St. Francis High boys cross-country team was optimistic about its chances of repeating as Division II state champions this year.

But as senior Eric Eng said after returning from Saturday’s event in Fresno, “The state meet is always crazy.”

While it went well for Eng – whose 11th-place time of 15 minutes, 30 seconds paced the Lancers – the 5-kilometer course at Woodward Park wasn’t so kind to some of his teammates.

“A couple of our key scorers, including CCS champion Colton Colonna, got tripped up and fell down in the first 100 meters of the race, which really set them back,” said Lancers coach Phil Pompei, whose team came in fifth.

Senior Colonna still posted the Lancers’ second-best time (15:44) to place 21st. Juan Pablo Garcia took 25th (15:45.7) and fellow junior Aiden Maddison finished 50th (16:02).

“We thought we’d have a shot to win state, but it wasn’t our best day and Newbury Park and La Costa Canyon ran incredibly well,” said Eng, referencing the top-two finishers in Division II.

Eng’s performance was his best at Woodward Park, breaking his personal record by 7 seconds.

“I ran reasonably well, but I always feel that I could have done better,” said Eng, who recently committed to Cornell University.

The Los Altos boys, racing in Division I, placed 12th at state. The Eagles’ combined time of 81:35 broke the course school record they set at last year’s meet.

“It’s a big achievement, considering how difficult it was to train properly for the past two weeks with the air-quality concerns and the three cancellations of the CCS meet,” Los Altos coach Steph MacKenzie said.

The coach’s son, senior Owen MacKenzie, led the Eagles with a 29th-place time of 15:42.4. After a conservative start, he passed 24 runners in the second half of the race, according to Steph.

Junior Adam Sage came in 46th with a personal-best time of 15:53.5.

Senior Naomi Donovan, representing the Los Altos girls at state, finished 38th in her race with an 18:42.4.

“Naomi had a great start and was in a solid position after the first mile,” Steph said. “She struggled a bit in the middle hilly section but made a strong comeback in the final stretch.”

The St. Francis girls team placed 20th in Division II. Sophomore Claire Callon finished 107th (19:44.7) to pace the Lancers.

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