WATSONVILLE — As Patrick Olson stood and answered questions, the victorious Scotts Valley Falcons cheered in a giant team huddle just a few yards away.
“That hurts,” Olson said.
Aptos Mariners’ runner Olson cruised to the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League individual title, but Scotts Valley edged the Mariners 27-29 to win its first league title in the team’s history Thursday afternoon at Pinto Lake County Park.
The sophomore blasted through the 2.95-mile Watsonville course to a 15 minute, 38 second finish, just a second behind his personal best which he set in last week’s SCCAL dual meet.
“Patty ran angry today and I love it,” said Aptos head coach Dan Gruber. “People are going to start looking at him. He’s just a tough kid and I love it.”
But the Mariners, last year’s league champions and second place finishers at the Central Coast Section finals, were unable to pull out the win over the Falcons.
The loss didn’t discourage Olson one bit.
“We didn’t win league,” Olson said, “but we’re going to win CCS. I know that for sure, and we’re going to do well in state.”
Olson said he took over the lead during the half-way mark of the race, and even though he had a big lead he sprinted the final 100-meters like there was someone chasing him down.
“Going down the stretch I thought someone was behind me,” Olson said. “I didn’t look back or anything. I just had a feeling, so I went for it.”
In reality Olson dusted the competition as the second place runner came in 11 seconds after him.
And it was all Aptos and Scotts Valley in the top 12 spots.
Aptos’ Morgan Miller came in second at 15:49, but Scotts Valley’s Nick Heath (15:51), John Ross (15:57) and Scott Edwards (16:01) took the next three positions.
Aptos’ Jack Rose snuck in the sixth slot (16:01), but Scotts Valley’s Draven Hawk (16:14) and Luke McCartney (16:18) slipped in the seventh and eighth spots to push the Falcons over the top and give them the slight win.
“I though we had just beaten them by two points,” Olson said, “but I guess they beat us.”
Although the Mariners were not able to win the league title, they’ll get a chance to finish unfinished business in the CCS finals Nov. 16 at Crystal Spring in Belmont.
“CCS is going to be completely different,” Olson said. “There is going to be guys that are going to be ahead of me the entire time. I’m really going to have to push my pace.”
Scotts Valley, San Lorenzo Valley and Harbor (all D-IV) will follow them to Crystal Springs, as will St. Francis Central Coast Catholic who beat out fellow D-V school Mount Madonna to qualify.
The Sharks’ top finisher was Braxton Rico, who set the fastest freshman time in the school’s history with a time of 17:23.
They had six runners on their squad, four freshman, a sophomore and one senior.
“It feels great,” said freshman Nathaniel Ramos. “I still can’t believe we’re going, and in my first year on the team.”
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