The St. Joseph Notre Dame High and Alameda boys cross country teams are headed to Fresno.
Both squads qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation state championships on Nov. 24 at Woodward Park. The Pilots, who defended their North Coast Section Division V team title on Nov. 17, will race Saturday at 8:30 a.m. The Hornets, who finished second in the NCS Division II race, will compete at 10:40 a.m. Saturday.
St. Joseph Notre Dame's Kim Avalos and Veronica Aguila, and Alameda's Sonia Xu, qualified for the state meet as individuals. Avalos and Aguila will race in the Division V girls state championship race at 9:30 a.m., and Xu will compete in the Division II girls race at 12:15 p.m.
At the NCS championships, the St. Joseph Notre Dame boys team placed three runners in the top six and four in the top 13 on their way to a score of 44.
Leading the way was senior Louis Rodrigues with a second-place finish in 15 minutes, 55 seconds for the 3.0 mile Hayward High course. He was fifth at the one-mile mark, but moved up and outkicked Marin Academy's James Kinney (15:57) to the finish.
"I'm pretty confident in my closing speed," Rodrigues said.
Sophomores Michael and Matthew Murphy placed fifth and sixth, each with times of 16:08. Gabe Arias-Sheridan added a 13th-place finish (16:41) and James Lafollette was the Pilots' No. 5 scorer in 18th place (17:00).
Alameda's boys team put four runners in the top 20 of the Division II race and finished second (with a score of 84) by just 10 points. The Hornets were paced by a seventh-place finish by senior Stephen Carlson (16:24). Other Hornets scorers were Cameron Tu (11th, 16:38), Deepak Sharma (19th, 16:54), Duc Nguyen (20th, 16:59) and Denver Bishop (27th, 17:16).
Avalos placed sixth in the Division V girls race (19:21) and teammate Aguila was 13th (19:54). Xu was fourth in the Division II girls race (19:28).
Branson d. St. Joseph Notre Dame: The No. 1 seeded Bulls re-tooled after dropping Game 2 to defeat No. 3 St. Joseph Notre Dame 25-10, 20-25, 25-17, 25-12 at College of Marin on Nov. 17 for their fourth consecutive NCS Division V title.
In Game 1 the Bulls (38-3) looked like a team that had won the previous three section titles. But as Branson may have taken the foot off the gas pedal in Game 2, St. Joseph Notre Dame found its rhythm.
"We just went into it like we have nothing to lose, they're expected to win, we just need to go out there and play our very best," said Phoebe Grunt, who had team-highs with 11 kills and six blocks for the Pilots (26-11).
The Bulls re-took control of the match in Game 3. Setter Gaby Steiner served 11 points in a row, including three aces to give Branson a decisive 15-4 advantage. The Pilots battled back with some nice serving from Allie Oilar, who had three aces of her own to cut the deficit to 19-14. That was as close as they could get as the Bulls clinched Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead.
In the match, the Pilots got key contributions from Rebecca Langowski (10 kills, two assists) Emma Doud (three kills, six blocks) and Oilar (11 assists, four aces).
St. Joseph Notre Dame advanced to the CIF Division V Northern regionals, where it hosted Hamilton-Hamilton City in a first-round match on Nov. 20. Results of that match were not available at press time. The winner of that match advanced to the Northern regional semifinals on Nov. 24.
-- Scott Silveri, Marin Independent Journal
Cardinal Newman 40, Encinal 14: Three first-half turnovers by the Jets turned into 20 points for the host Cardinals, who advanced to the NCS Division III semifinals with the win on Nov. 17 in a rematch of the 2010 Division III finals.
The No. 3 Cardinals (11-1) didn't waste time jumping on the Jets, as Phillip Wright returned the opening kickoff for 88 yards for a touchdown just 15 seconds into the contest. Wright found the end zone once again later in the quarter with a 3-yard run as the Cardinals took a 14-0 lead.
The Cardinals then scored 26 points in the second quarter. Encinal (7-6) finally got on the board in the third quarter when Tyrell Carrigan opened the half with a 43-yard run before finishing the drive with a 20-yard scamper to the end zone.
Taivale Tautalatasi added a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Carrigan ran for 77 yards on eight carries and added an interception for the No. 11 Jets.
-- Tony Gonsalez, correspondent