Category Archives: CROSS COUNTRY

Updates on the XC season from members.


by Brad Zanetti

     The Empire Runners Club has a long-standing commitment to providing scholarships to deserving student athletes of Sonoma County making the transition from high school to college.  Made possible by dues and contributions from our members, we are giving our 4 recipients a total of $2250 in scholarship awards this year.  All club members should be proud of the part they play in this most wonderful of traditions through generous donations.    

This year’s group of SGF recipients have lived through a historically trying 4 years.  If it wasn’t being impacted by fires in our own backyard with destruction of homes, lives and livelihoods then it was weeks of extremely poor AQI due to smoke from fires up to hundreds of miles away.  Then 2020 showed up with a worldwide plague the likes we have not experienced before. Our SGF group now had to deal with masks, staying at home minimizing contact with friends and online zoom school due to Covid. 

     Even the shortened XC and Track seasons, which happened only through an immense amount of work by the administrators, ADs and Coaches to comply with Public Health standards, were less than satisfying for our athletes. (A great big thank you to all of those that worked to make even a shortened season a reality). So, to say there was ever a ‘normal’ season for our athletes would be a gross understatement.  Yet our 4 SGF recipients did indeed persevere and achieve, with one of them running top times in the 800,1600 and 3200 setting school records at all 3 distances.

     Our first SGF recipient ran track all 4 years at Santa Rosa HS and XC 3 years.  She had excellent times in the 100m, 200m and 400m as well was a top performer and anchor for the 4x100m relay.  During her sophomore year her relay team ran the second fastest time in SRHS track and field history.  One of her best memories was participating as a freshman at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational.  Her future track goals are to continue running track in College.

     Her coaches have stated that she wasn’t only a great athlete but also a great teammate who helped improve other runners’ success and experiences.  Her dream is to go to a University and get her bachelor’s degree in Nursing.  She was accepted to her dream college, USF and will start there in the Fall. 

     Our first recipient of the Empire Runner SGF Scholarship is Santa Rosa High School’s Anastasia Wong.

     Our second SGF recipient was a busy man at Casa Grande HS.  He ran XC 3 years and Track all 4 years while maintaining an unweighted GPA of 3.70 and filled his spare time with the Tech Club and Science Olympiad as well as working and volunteering (Salvation Army Food Drive, Una Vida, 3D Hope and Adobe Christian Church.

     Highlights of his XC exploits include a Spring Lake Course best of 16:21, 3rd Team All-Empire in 2019 and a trip to the State HS XC Championships where he finished 3rd for Casa Grande in 16:51 for the full 5K. He was also All-League and XC team MVP.  On the track he had a best of 10:13 in the 3200 and was an NCS Scholar Runner 7 times.

     Our second SGF recipient will continue running in college and is currently running with the Bearcubs of SRJC.

We are proud to congratulate the former Gaucho Luke Baird upon receiving this scholarship.

     Our third recipient ran track all four years at Montgomery HS.  He started out as a Jake of all trades for the track team, running both hurdles, the long jump and the sprints. His true love was the sprints however and he continued in the 100m, 200m, long jump and added the 4x100m relay. His natural ability and hard work garnered him the top sprinter at Monty in sophomore year.  He has had more than his share difficulties since the pandemic but kept at it and finished his senior season with FAT PRs of 11.49 in the 100m and 23.66 in the 200m, with his 4×100 relay best time 46.09.

     His plan is to continue his running exploits to SRJC this year and hopes to improve all of his times and then transfer to a 4-year college and major in computer science.  We all wish the best of fortune for our 3rd recipient of a scholarship, the former Viking and current Bearcub, Jake Maltby.

     Our 4th and final SGF recipient not only was a 4-year Varsity XC/Track and Field veteran but also played basketball for 3 years.  After his sophomore season his goals included a plan to run in college at the Division 1 level and adjusted his life (mileage, nutrition and sleep) accordingly.

His plan and hard work have paid off with multiple MVP, All league and All Empire awards in both XC and Track.  In his senior year facing a limited XC and Track schedule locally, he signed up for 3 events in Arizona and Texas and travelled there for the necessary competition.  Long story short this SGF recipient achieved school records in the 800m (1:55.14), 1600m (4:15.63), 3200m (9:25.83) and 5K (15:40).  He also ran open 400m and was a member of the 4x400m Relay and has a 15:40 PR on the Spring Lake Course in XC.

     Space doesn’t permit all of the team awards to be presented but I am guessing one of his favorite awards is the Sarah Sumpter Award for Biggest Heart and Team Captain.  His athletic achievements were matched by his scholastic career with a 3.85 non-weighted GPA, Class Rank of #5 and 8-time NCS Scholar award winner.  All of these achievements happened while he maintained a job at Healdsburg RC, interned at the Healdsburg FD and volunteered at CarePortal, Mexico Mission Trip (First Presbyterian Church) and Healdsburg Shared Ministries.

     Even though his goal was to run NCAA D1 in college he has found a collegiate home in Santa Barbara at NAIA Westmont College. This former Greyhound from Healdsburg HS has become a Westmont Warrior.

     Congratulations Jack Vanden Heuvel.

USATF-PA Awards Banquet 2018: Empire Runners Receive Honors

USATF-PA LDR Awards Banquet 2018

Empire Runners Receive Honors

By Dale Peterson

The 2018 USATF Pacific Association LDR – Long Distance Running Awards Banquet was held on Saturday February 3rd in Sacramento.

The Dante Club near Sac State was packed and everyone was in a celebratory mood, enjoying good food and beverages.  There were literally dozens of individual and team awards covering the spectrum from Roads and Cross-Country to Ultra and Mountain Running Grand Prix’s.

The Guest Speaker was none other than the living legend Billy Mills, surprise winner of the 1964 Olympic 10,000 M in Tokyo Japan.


Mills, whose story was immortalized in the 1983 movie Running Brave, continues to be brave indeed, championing human-rights and celebrating the common bonds between diverse peoples across the globe.

Mills did not play it safe at the banquet either.  His talk, though held together by a running themed thread touched on his hard-scrabble childhood, his struggles with racism and bigotry and his own private demons.  At many points during his talk, he fearlessly touched on what were certainly uncomfortable subjects for many in the audience. When he finished he received a well-deserved standing ovation from the mostly white, economically comfortable audience.

The Empire Runners were well represented on this night.


David White, Solomon Leung and Dale Peterson were on hand to receive their respective awards.


David picked up the award as the 2017 Cross-Country Grand Prix 50-59 Champion.



David was also very excited to accept the 2017 PA Cross-Country Championship plaque on behalf of the Empire Runners Senior men’s team.


Solomon was awarded as the 2017 Ultra Grand Prix Under-30 Champion in that grueling series.DSC01259 (1)

Dale was awarded the 2017 Volunteer of the Year award for Cross Country for his work as a USATF-PA official.


It was a fun and rewarding evening for all who attended.

Photo Essay – Anthony Rink, 2015 XC State Championships

(Local runner and photographer Anthony Rink went to the 2015 state XC championships, and here are some of his photos with captions.)

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Sonoma Academy girls team post race at the finish line of the CIF state cross country championships. At this time all athletes have to remove the electronic chips from their shoes before leaving the finish area. Athletes Rylee Bowen, Mckenna Sell, and Kayja Mann.

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Start of the division one girls race, just over a quarter mile from the start. This leads down the road to the entrance of woodward park where they take a hard left turn onto the park course.

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Two leaders of the division four race. They are just past the two mile mark of the three point one mile course. On the left is athlete Morgin Coonfield who finishes second overall.

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Just after the start of the division three boys race. As the runners begin to sort out their best position to be in for the race.

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First place division three boys race. Athlete Austin Tamagno finishing in 14:45:9 as the second fastest overall athlete to compete.

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Almost one mile into the division five girls race. The pack of runners begins to thin out as they get further into the race. Sonoma Academy athlete Rylee Bowen hangs onto the front pack of runners to pull her through the race.

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This is the two mile mark of the division five girls race. As the front pack of the race thins out Rylee Bowen is positioned right behind the first runner. Bowen continues to move up and win the race.

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Finish of the division one girls race. Athlete Delaney White on her final push to the finish line, placing 12th.


(An ode to the Montgomery XC team by Val Sell)

’Twas the night before practice and all through the house,             Every creature was running, including the mouse.                                    The singlets were hung by the chimney with care,                                         In hopes that fast times soon would be there.

The athletes were nestled all snug in their beds,                                        While visions of torture danced through their heads.                             And Karen with her Banjo and Brad in his cap,                                                  The coaches were ready, soon needing a nap.

When out on the track there arose such a clatter,                                                   I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.                                              Laced up my old shoes, and then ran oh so fast,                                                 The field I would go, like the youth from my past.

The moon on the breast of the up coming season,                                         Gave the light of mid-day, for all the good reasons.                                   When what to my wondering eyes should appear,                                             But the kids doing warmups, some chasing a deer.

With the boys at the lead, so lively and quick,                                                              I knew in a moment, it must be ole SLICK.                                                            More rapid than Pumas, his mates they all came,                                           He whistled and shouted, and called them by name.

Now, JAZZY! now, JESSIE! now PEETY and MAYO!                                            On, NOODLE! on, ACORN! on, SKIPPER and CHEETO!                               To the curve on the line, the start I will call,                                                          Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!

With summer came Humboldt, hill training and more,                              Dorm slumber, hall dining, and talks while you snore.                                      The runs were a plenty and the stairs were a sight,                                                If you woke before Kevin, you would be alright.

 The miles now run, and the team looking good,                                                  Now surely was time, to return to the hood.                                                             So run as they might, as I stood all aglow,                                                                  The coach had high hopes, with her ducks in a row.

The season then started, with all the new faces,                                                   The oldies, the newbies, and all kinds of paces.                                                      The days they were hot, and through it high-n-low,                                              Our only retreat, was to swim Il-San-Jo.

The park was their friend, the place they would train,                                            At times they would fall, at times they would strain.                                        The trails there are many, roll up and then down,                                             The freedom was joyous, the laughter abound.

The coaches were there, with all kinds of wisdom,                                              To train them, fix them, and teach them of epsom.                                            What to eat, what to drink, and sleep we’d agree,                                               We gather, and lecture, remind of rule three.

Now it wasn’t all fun, our days in the sun,                                                            Some ran even faster, though others were done.                                                 The races were few, and gave each, time to shine,                                              Their goal was quite simple, a Duckie of mine.

The Finals upon us, the end was now here,                                                           Don’t worry, you’re ready, there’s nothing to fear.                                                 The friends here are many, and memories had,                                                Some stories don’t tell, or make Val really mad.

The time has now come, for the old coach to part,                                              For the last fifteen years, has brought to my heart,                                               A wave of fond moments, too many to mention,                                               I hope you had fun, for that was the intention.

Your story ends not here, this is just the start,                                       Wherever life takes you, and while we’re apart,                                              Think back to this team and the time that we had,                                                 Be happy, be joyous, be merry, be glad.

Viking Opener Alumni Cross Country: DuBay Still “Schooling” the Youngsters, by Larry Meredith

Cathy DuBay signing up for the race in the morning.

At age 51 Cathy DuBay is over the hill.  And the next hill.  And the one after that.  Before anyone else. While it’s true that DuBay can’t zip around the Spring Lake 2-mile cross country course as fast as when she was 30 (11:32, 3rd-best all-time) or when she was 45 (12:34, 3rd-best master all-time), her 12:44 effort this year gave her a 45-second victory in the 29th Annual Viking Opener Alumni Cross Country 2-Miler on September 29.  And the Piner HS grad (class of ’82) also broke the women’s 50+ all-time mark, set by Ukiah’s Holly Enzler in 2013, by an amazing 58 seconds.

Larry Meredith getting everything organized the morning of…..

Eva Stuart, Santa Rosa ’09, was the runner up this year, leading her group of Panther alumni to a 2nd-place team finish.  One of her SRHS coaches, Carrie Joseph (Centerville ’88, Ohio) came through the finish next, winning the women’s 40-49 division just ahead of Lower 47 Mix teammate Karen Teuscher (Central Kitsap ’94, Washington) as that team claimed top honors.  Empire Runner Tori Meredith (Branham ’75, San Jose) took second among the 50-and-over set and ninth overall.  Nancy Clary (San Rafael ’81) finished 4thoverall and claimed a spot on the all-time masters list at 13th with her 13:59.  Leona Bratcher (Piner ’79) put her name on the all-time 50+ list in 17th with a 17:46.

Vojta Ripa finishing in first place.

Youth would be served in the men’s race as Healdsburg High’s Vojta Ripa (class of ’08) ran away to a 24-second margin of victory, finishing in 10:49.  The home team celebrated a second place individual finish and masters title for Jason Selby (Montgomery ’93), who is now 15th-best ever for that division with his 11:13.  Jaime Silva (Piner ’13) took 3rd place, outkicking Empire Runner Gerald McCormick (Sela ’01, Washington) by one second.  The next two finishers were from the team Marin County Mix, Matt DeShazo (San Marin ’01, Novato) and Brad O’Brien (Terra Linda ’80, San Rafael) setting the stage for the team title. O’Brien was the top 50-59 finisher, tying his all-time #2 mark in that division set two years ago at 11:31. 

Jason Selby finishing in second, first in the 40-49 division.

 Although brothers Jeff (’00) and Chris Gardina (’03) for Piner HS took 11th and 13th, respectively, senior runner Andy Howard (Novato ’79) came in 15th to knot up the team score a t 27 apiece for Marin County and Piner HS.  The tie-breaker went to Marin County when Travis Reder (Novato ’13) finished 19th, far ahead of Piner #4, Quy Tran.  Montgomery’s men took 3rd, just 3 points back.
Besides O’Brien’s repeat performance in his 50-59 division, the most impressive run of the day was by fellow senior runner Tim Wallen (Ukiah ’81) who finished just one second back in 7th place and earned the #3 all-time mark for men in that group.  Another who notched a spot on an all-time list was Brian McSweeny (Holy Trinity, New Jersey) who ran 14:38 and is now the 11-fastest 60+ runner in this event’s history.

Got Hills? It’s XC Season, by Paul Berg

At the July 23 club meeting, the Board of Directors voted to increase financial support for the upcoming Cross-Country season to the tune of $6,000, an increase of over $2,000 from last year. The Empire Runners will now pay race entry fees for any member to participate in up to seven races in the upcoming fall season, regardless of whether the race is designated as a team race by your age-group team. There is no minimum number of races you must run in the season, and the club will provide the new stylish singlet to any member who participates. Adding extra excitement to this 2015 season is the fact that the National Championships will be held on our home turf, Golden Gate Park, on December 12. The club will also pay entry fees for approx. 60 ER members to participate in this national event.

USATF PA XC Finals at Golden Gate Park, Nov 16 2014. To see all the photos, go to the Empire Shutterfly page,
USATF PA XC Finals at Golden Gate Park, Nov 16 2014. To see all the photos, go to the Empire Shutterfly page,

Regardless of you age and ability, racing XC is all about participation. The camaraderie of meeting up for the carpool on race day, warming up with your teammates, strategizing the race and supporting each other is what it’s all about. Seeing a sea of ER singlets powering up a hill in a blur of runners is a sight to behold.


If you’ve never run XC or have dropped out the past few years, I encourage you to go to and check out the definitive and thorough guide that John Harmon has prepared. You won’t regret it.


Dipsea, by Frank Cuneo

Dipsea 6/14/2015

It’s 5:20am, and I’m up before the alarm goes off after rousing a couple times earlier. Now following everything I had laid out, Empire singlet, running shorts, breakfast, feed the cat, backpack, I go meet my friends at the park-n-ride. Empire Runner friends riding together included Kate Papadoupolos, Paul Berg, Brad Zanetti and I.

Looking forward to the Dipsea had become a good pastime. We made a few practice runs, including a double-dipsea practice that had me puffing and aching, and an awesome one-way practice that ended up with a nice lunch in Stinson Beach with our drivers, Greg and Tim. (The best way to enjoy a beer is to run for it.)

We arrived and went through the usual run preparations: put the car key where the sun don’t shine, (Not there!), bib number, warm up. They have shuttles take bundles of belongings to the finish area. More preparations: porta-potty line with friendly people, adjust shoes. This race has staggered starts, arranged by age and gender, with a group starting each minute for quite a while. Maybe that’s another reason I like this race, as an old guy like me still has half a chance!

Kate Papadopoulos running to the finish line at the Dipsea race, 2015. Photo by Bev Zanetti
Kate Papadopoulos running to the finish line at the Dipsea race, 2015. Photo by Bev Zanetti

Paul led Brad and I on a warm-up run among houses surrounded by redwoods. We were impressed by the Mill Valley neighborhood. We were running in the “Invitational” group, which gets to have their staggered starts first. Kate was running her first Dipsea, so she had to run in the “Runners” group, which follows the invitational. If Kate could still finish within a certain number, (I think about 750), she would qualify to be in the invitational next year. We had no doubts that she would.

This was a big day. The 105th running of the Dipsea Race, from Mill Valley up over part of Mount Tamalpais to Stinson Beach. This race goes up hundreds of steps, then down into Muir Woods, then up for about 2.5 miles for a net elevation gain of about 3000 feet. One goal is to get to the top of the “Cardiac” trail, where runners have installed a water fountain. This is followed by some gentle rises and drops with beautiful scenery, before the trail begins a steep decline, as in watch your step with an extra “eeee!” down towards the beach. Some of the paths are rocky, some over rustic steps turning this way and that, then up again at “Insult” hill and down the “Swoop” which used to be a secluded short cut, but now taken by most shooting down a dirt trail with bushes at each elbow, while some runners are hoping to pass. (I think a run-on sentence is appropriate in this case, as run on is what’s on everyone’s mind.) Still, there were some parts of the race where I so enjoyed flying over humps around trees, over rocks, and down the gravel path getting close to the finish. Such fun, and still appreciating the view, and all these healthy happy people, well most anyway.

For me, it involved a lot of concentration, watching each step, telling myself to be up on your toes, keeping your feet under you. I feel it in my stomach muscles/gut, as this race works my body core.

There were many onlookers and supporters at points on the trail, even more as the course levels toward the finish to the park in Stinson Beach. This race is well organized. Then you turn and see the finish line and squeeze it out. (Didn’t know I could be so graphic. 🙂

At the finish, I met Paul, who finished ahead of me after we passed each other during the race. It’s good to have running buddies. Then Brad, and Kate came in with a time about 5 minutes faster than the rest of us. We were greeted by Paul and Brad’s families. More and more runners kept coming in, including our famed Darryl (Beardall), who told us this was his 60th Dipsea!

The trophies, plaques, photos and stories on display for the historical race filled several tables. And then there was the stack of black shirts for the first 35 finishers.

From my point of view, it was awesome.

Also, I really appreciate the people of the Empire Runners, who are so supportive of each other.

So we run. Run as we enjoy it. Run as we were made to do.

Back home now, feeling good and smiling, smiling on my face and deep inside.

Thank you to all of you who share this. Hope to see you at the next run, maybe the next Dipsea?


Cross Country Starts July 1st, by Stephen Agar

While the fall cross-country season can be one of the most enjoyable racing experiences, combining the camaraderie of team competition with the diversity of trail running, it can also be the most challenging. Such is the depth of our cross county circuit that a performance that would rank in the top two or three at a local road race may not be enough for a top 30 finish. However, nothing can enhance your experience like PREPARATION, and the time to start is now. The club group training is a great opportunity to increase the volume and intensity of your running, while keeping things fun and social. Go to for times and locations. If you plan train on your own, here are some suggestions of what to incorporate into a typical week.

  • Try to run 4 – 6 days a week
  • One long run of 60 – 90 minutes
  • 5 x three minutes with one minute rest
  • 8 – 10 x one minute with one minute rest

Take at least one rest day or easy day between these efforts, and remember “train don’t strain.” Feel free to  email me with any questions. Stephen Agar – stephen.k.agar@gmail.comContactUsHeader

XC Finals – A Photographer’s Photo

It was the end of the race, and the last two runners of the men’s open were racing to the finish line. I was standing near the finish line to photograph runners as they came in. What I love about this photo is the story it tells about adult cross country. Even though they were the last two runners in the race, the crowd is enthusiastic, cheering them on, happy, and fully engaged in the race – they showed just as much enthusiasm for those that came in last as they did for those that came in first. And the crowd had a very strong reaction when both runners sprinted to the finish line, cheering them on, simply for the love of running and competition and for not giving up, even if you’re last. Just as this photo was taken, the runner on the left gave up and Empire runner Daniel Karbousky came through the finish line chute and collapsed onto the grass outside of the chute. I helped pick him up and got him walking again. I believe this is the best photograph I’ve ever taken of a cross country race because it shows the supportive community of adult cross country and the spirit of competition. And of course…..the Empire runner came in first!


The 2015 Jackrabbit Derby X-Country in May!

By Race Director Dale Peterson

106 people (23 kids in the Bunny Hop) showed up at Spring Lake Park in Santa Rosa on may 3rd to participate in the 23rd running of the Jackrabbit Derby.


The skies were gray and temps were slightly cool on what would prove to be another great day for racing on the fabled high school cross-country course.

John Staroba (36) won for the men in a time of 17:38 holding off Brad O’Brien (53) 17:48 and Job Skandera (13) 17:59.


Candy Owens (33) was the first female in 19:54 followed closely by Sarah Skandera (10) 20:03 and Carrie Peterson-Kirby (41) in 20:08.

Top Masters for the men were Brad O’Brien (53) 17:48, Guy Schott (52) 18:21 and Bill Cusworth (47) 18:28.

Top Masters women were Carrie Peterson-Kirby (41) 20:08, Sandra Frost (43) 21:48 and Kerry Hanlon (43) 22:07.


Sarah Skandera (10) improved her 1st All Time place for girls 12 and under to 20:03 and her sister Rebekah Skandera (9) moved up to 2nd All Time for girls 12 and under with her time of 20:56.

Brendan Hutchinson (72) improved his 2nd All Time place for men 70-79 with his time of 24:20.

Kathleen McPherson (75) became only the second woman over 70 to ever complete the Jackrabbit Derby.


There was a record turnout for the “1K” Bunny Hop – the kids showing their usual boundless energy and good cheer.

It was another great day at Spring Lake thanks to all of the volunteers. A special thanks to Carl Triola and the Casa Grande HS cross-country team and parents for all their help!