Aptos’ Matti Peoples and her coach Dan Gruber, were speechless after their race.
Peoples, because she was out of breath from demolishing her personal best at Pinto Lake County park, and Gruber because he was stunned with her performance.
The Aptos girl’s cross country team dropped their first Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League meet of the 2013 season to San Lorenzo Valley 26-29, but Peoples and the rest of the Mariners improved their times and impressed their coach.
They tallied a 19-41 win over Santa Cruz.
Peoples shaved 1 minute, and 3 seconds off her previous best time to set a new personal record of 17:46, and beat Santa Cruz’s Cate Ratliff and San Lorenzo Valley’s Claire MacMillan for the first time to finish in second place.
“I thought I had started off too fast,” Peoples said. “I thought that I was going to slow down coming around after the loop, but I knew I was running fast.”
Peoples and her teammate Anika McBride entered the tree-covered section of the course trailing MacMillan and Ratliff, but when they emerged from the foliage, Peoples was in the lead.
She was able to hold off her good friend Ratliff down the final sprint for the second place finish behind San Lorenzo Valley’s juggernaut Anna Maxwell.
Maxwell set the new fastest time this season at Pinto Lake by speeding through the course with no contest to a time off 16:47.
San Lorenzo Valley took the team win by just three points, but were helped by the absence of Aptos’ top runner Clare Peabody.
Peabody has consistently finished first for the Mariners all season, but Gruber made the decision to sit her to rest an injury in hopes of running for next week’s SCCAL championships.
“I made the decision to sit her out,” Gruber said. “I saw her after warmups, and I just thought it would be better for her to get better for the championships next week.”
The Mariners’ other runners picked up the slack for the absence.
McBride, Yulisa Abundis and Olivia Quinn finished sixth, seventh and eight overall with times of 18:27, 18:28 and 18:42 respectively.
Quin Lin Harrill ended up in 10th place at 18:52.
The Mariners will have a week to prepare for the championships and try to repeat as SCCAL champions.
“I think we’re in a good spot,” Gruber said. “I’m really impressed with the entire team. If we can get Clare back then things will be good.”
Peoples agrees with her coach.
“I feel more prepared for next week after running it a second time,” Peoples said.
Mariners’ sophomore Patrick Olson finished in first with a personal best of 15:37 which beat his time of 15:47, which he set earlier during the his team’s only loss of the season against Scott Edwards and Scotts Valley.
He led his team to the first place 21-39 win over SLV and the win by incomplete over Santa Cruz.
Something that his coach hopes they’ll transfer to next week.
“I think my guys will step it up next week," Gruber said. "They’ll need to.”
Morgan Miller finished in third place at 16:09 and Chris Tiran came in fourth at 16:16.
Noah Price and John Bray placed sixth and seventh with times of 16:30 and 16:39 respectively.
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