Category Archives: High School Athletes



   The Empire Runners have 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 $3000 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.

     It has been 3 years since the last Kenwood Footrace and the presentation of our scholarships.  Last year we were able to provide 3 awards but no race to present them.  It is so fantastic again to be running the Kenwood Footrace and presenting the grants to 4 very deserving student athletes.

      This group of Student Grant Fund recipients has just about experienced it all:  from fires and smoke in 2018, 2019 to floods in 2019 to the Covid pandemic in 2020 until now.  They have had to deal with fire, smoke, evictions, quarantines, zoom schooling, masks and vaccines.  They have had partial seasons, lost seasons, severely shortened seasons with no post seasons.  It would have been easy for any of our recipients to just ‘fold up the tent’ for any or all of these reasons but they did not.  In fact, they somehow not only persevered but excelled during their high school careers.

1. Kevin Manni, Windsor HS

Our first SGF recipient has been running XC and Track since sophomore year.  A self-described “newbie” with no running background, our student athlete found his first year very difficult; but with a group of ‘newbies’ training, learning and experiencing XC together he was drawn to keep running.  This group developed nicely and won the league title in 2019.  With hard work he continued to develop and improve his performance each year in both XC and Track.  He also paid back those that came before and became a leader and team captain senior year.  This led to him being 2nd team All-Empire in XC for 2021 with bests of 16:57 on the Spring Lake Course and 16:30 at NCS in Hayward.  His track bests include: 4:44.7 for 1600 and 10:23.9 for the 3200.


Not content to simply improve as an athlete our first SGF recipient is an outstanding student ranking first in his class with an unweighted GPA of 3.93.  His teachers were effusive about his work ethic as well as his excellent scholastic output even excelling through a year of zoom education which is a testament in itself. 


Our scholarship recipient will be continuing his running and scholastic career at the Green and Gold of Cal Poly SLO.  He will be running with SLO running club under the direction of Armando Siqueiros with goals to continue improving at trail and road races.  He has already completed his first marathon, the SF Marathon, and plans on running many more with the goal of qualifying for the major marathons of the world and travelling the world running them.

     Please welcome to the stage the former WHS Jaguar and current Mustang of Cal Poly: Kevin Manni

2.  Alexis Lorenzana – Roseland Charter

     Our 2nd SGF recipient tells a running tale split into 3 parts: Initial excellence freshman year, 2 years of retrograde development and missed seasons, followed by a resurgent senior year with great improvement and excellent results at many big time XC and track meets.  This is not a unique running experience, but his mature attitude, hard work and leadership skills has led to being recruited by his college of choice to run XC and track on scholarship.


Senior year accolades included:  All Empire 2nd Team in  XC, Team captain, medaling at Viking Opener, Ed Sias, Woodbridge and Clovis.  He was top 15 at NCS and just missed qualifying for State in XC. In his first year of track he PR’d each race all season with bests of 4:31 in the 1600 and 10:02 in the 3200 finishing his high school career with school records in the 800,1600 and 3200.


As a student our SGF awardee was exemplary achieving a 3.8 unweighted GPA as well as being the ASB President.  His teachers were effusive with praise of his demeanor, maturity, leadership and resulting course work.  Showing extreme maturity our recipient managed to traverse the recruiting process by himself (no easy task) and was rewarded with a scholarship to Cal State Monterey and will continue his running career with Coach Jake Bermel and his Otter teammates.

Please put your hands together for former Roseland Charter student: Alex Lorenzana.

3.  Jacob Donahue – Maria Carrillo

      Our 3rd ER SGF recipient has managed the great running trifecta: 1- Star 8th grader determined but not quite able to make a historically good varsity XC team as a Freshman.  2- Making the Varsity as a sophomore, developing into a leader and team captain by senior year. 3- Having an historically great senior year with excellent times throughout California’s most competitive tournaments and leading his team to a podium finish at the State XC Championships.

      This SGF winner had bests of 15:21 on the Spring Lake Course (20th AT), 15:19 at Hayward HS (5th All NCS), 16:03 at Woodward Park and a Redwood Empire AT best of 14:41 for 3 miles at Woodbridge Invite. He also ran 14th best AT 9:19.89 for the 3200 and 4:24 for 1600m on the track.  His accolades include: 3 time All Redwood Empire XC with Runner of the Year in the Redwood Empire for 2021, 2 time All Empire for Track.   

     Not satisfied with excellence in running this student athlete also excelled in the classroom carrying an unweighted GPA of 3.5 while also playing the piano and a member of the Maria Carrillo Chorale.  After 4 years of good planning and hard work this student athlete has been accepted to his university of choice, Cal Poly SLO to continue his running and scholastic career.

Let’s bring to the stage, this former Maria Carrillo star and future Mustang: Jacob Donahue

4.  Sebastian Bohn – Santa Rosa HS

     Our 4th and Final SGF recipient is a 3rd Generation Empire Runner following his grandfather, Ernie and father, Eric both outstanding open and age group racers. Our SGF recipient has been literally a lifelong member of the Empire Runners running many of our races since he was a toddler.  He has grown up in front of our eyes and has impressed, in both his running ability from a young age and his social development.  Even as a youngster he was part of the group.

     As a runner this young man has improved each and every year while also becoming a strong leader for his Santa Rosa HS team and team captain.  He managed this while only running XC due to being a rather talented baseball player therefore missing 4 years of track which could have made him even faster.  This bodes well for his future running for his university of choice, Colgate.  He is truly a diamond in the rough for his new coach, Kim Keenan-Kirkpatrick and I expect great improvement as he trains fulltime and his speed begins to match his already great endurance.  He has excellent times at 3-mile courses- 17:08 at the SLC, 17:10 at Hayward HS but I feel he will be even better with the longer distances of Division 1 season(8-10K).

      Our final SGF recipient ended his high school career as a 3-year varsity XC, 2-year team captain and 2-time Heart of the Panther Award.  He managed this while maintaining an unweighted 3.95 GPA (weighted to 4.77) in an All AP curriculum, an accomplished violinist in the well-respected SRHS Orchestra and a Nordquist dance instructor.  He also excelled in Math, President of the Math Club and participated in the California Math League.  If that doesn’t make you feel a bit dizzy both his teachers and coaches state his most outstanding ability may be his leadership skills with students of all ages, younger and older.

     It is easy to see that Colgate University has made an excellent choice.  Please give a warm welcome as he comes to our stage, the former SRHS Panther and future Colgate Raider: Sebastian Zach Bohn

Student Grant Fund co-chair Brad Zanetti presenting checks to Alexis Lorenzana and Kevin Manni at the July 4th Kenwood Footrace.



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.


The Empire Runners have a long-standing commitment to providing scholarships to deserving XC/T&F 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 3 recipients a total of $ 3000 in scholarship awards this year. All clubmembers should be proud of the part they play in this most wonderful of traditions

The ER SGF is substantially funded by the Kenwood Footrace as well and due to the Covid Status will not be receiving these monies for the 2021 scholarships. This year there is an Independence Day Weekend Challenge Virtual Race which is free if you sign up through the ER site and we are asking, if you choose, to give a donation which will be used for next years SGF Scholarships.

This group of 2020 recipients has had to deal with the most unique set of circumstances in generations- 2017 Tubbs Fire with entire sections of Santa Rosa burnt out impacting thousands, 2018 Camp Fire and being smoked out for weeks, Flood along the Russian River and this year Covid-19. They have missed more school, more training and more sports by far than any other class. And all 3 recipients were personally affected by these circumstances. Here is hoping their next 4+ years of University life and sports return to some sort of normalcy.

Our first recipient is a 4yr XC/Track & Field athlete. He was a 3 yr varsity performer, part of a league championship team and qualified for the California State XC Championships twice. His PR on the Spring Lake Course is 16:32 and his mile PR is 4:38. He has been an outstanding addition to his teams since freshman year with his upbeat personality initially and then developing excellent leadership and team building skills. He has been instrumental in bringing the new young runners into the team concept. Our first recipient’s coaches have thoroughly enjoyed their experience with him and will miss him as he leaves high school and begins his collegiate career.

Our first ER SGF scholarship recipient is looking forward to starting his collegiate career at Santa Rosa JC. As an athlete who has missed parts of 4 seasons he is still far from reaching his athletic and educational goals. While working extra hard due to a learning disorder he also made time for over 200 volunteer hours. His teachers and coaches will be following his progress closely, under the tutelage of Coach Wellman, as he embarks on his journey to be the best runner he can be and complete his prerequisites for transfer to a university and study Marine Biology.

Our first recipient is the former Piner Prospector and future Santa Rosa JC Bearcub, JEREMIAH CANO.

Our second ER SGF scholarship winner is also a 4yr athlete, in both Soccer and Track&Field. He has been accepted at the College of his choice and will be playing soccer primarily with the option of continuing in T&F if he can make it work. He has achieved at a very high level attaining All Empire in both Soccer and T&F, the highlight of qualifying for the NCS meet final in the 400 meters. He has been achieving at the highest level all 4 years as well with Alltime in Class Top 10s in the 400 meters- # 7 Freshman 51.84, #10 Sophmore 50.77 and #5 Junior 49.52. He also has PRs of 22.44 in the 200m and 1:57 in the 800m. Unfortunately our 2nd scholarship winner was unable to perform for his Senior season and continue up the Alltime Best Ladders.

Our 2nd recipient, too, has had to face many challenges during his high school career including the near total destruction of his school during the 2017 Tubbs Fire but that did not deter him. Even while playing Varsity Soccer all 4 years, T&F and performing significant community service(winning the Christian Gentleman Award) he has maintained an unweighted GPA of 3.9 in a College Prep course load with many AP classes. He also found time to participate in student council. Our 2nd recipient will take his talents, dedication and hard work to further his education in viticulture/agriculture. This scholarship winner will trade the cardinal & gold of Cardinal Newman for the blue & white of UC Davis in the Fall.

We are proud to announce our 2nd scholarship presented to the future Aggie from Cardinal Newman, JUSTIN PATTERSON.

Our final SGF scholarship winner began her high school career as an all star varsity volleyball and basketball player. She went out for the track team to put her in line for the Iron Lion Award(3 sports for all 4 years). To all who knew her it was a forgone conclusion she would go to college playing volleyball but she soon fell in love with the ‘throws’(Shotput and Discus) while scoring points in a variety of other events. Like the other recipients her education and athletic career was negatively impacted by fires, flooding and Covid but in addition she contracted a very severe case of Lyme’s disease and missed half a school year. She has worked very hard to get her physical level back and even improve it. This hard work was evident when after only 2 meets this year she improved her SP PR to 36’1.5”(50th AT RE) and her DT PR to 140’10”(#3 AT). Highlights besides many League championships, All Empire awards, multi event NCS qualifier peaked with a trip to the State T&F Championship for the discus last year. Our recipient was looking for a return trip this year with her 140+’ throw in March good for 5th in the state when the season was interrupted. She has been working fulltime improving her throws and adding the Javelin and the Hammer to her repertoire which she will be throwing in college.

Always an excellent student our final SGF Scholarship persevered through fires, floods, Covid and Lymes disease to maintain an unweighted 3.83 GPA in an AP College Prep track. She also made time to be a teachers aide in Math through high school, be a member of multiple clubs including Leadership and civic volunteering. This scholarship winner had multiple excellent Universities to pick from and decided on UC Irvine where she felt she had the best chance to meet her goals of being a D1 NCAA Champion and hopefully qualifying for the 2028 Olympic Trials. Considering what she has had to overcome so far I wouldn’t bet against it. This scholar athlete will be trading her Lion mascot to become an Anteater in the fall.

We are proud to give the ER SGF Scholarship to El Molino’s very own, KASSIDY SANI.

2019 Student Grant Fund Recipients

The Empire Runners have 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 6 recipients a total of $6000 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.

These six student-athletes will be formally introduced and awarded their scholarship checks at the Kenwood Footrace on July 4th. Please join us in congratulating these outstanding young members of our running community.

Our first recipient began her 4-year high school career as a wide-eyed middle schooler showing up at her brother’s practices. Finding the early going a bit daunting, she found that long distance running took patience, determination and a “whole lot of grit”. Over the 4-year experience she not only continually improved to all-league status, she was voted most improved and a team captain.  Yet the journey was not without pitfalls; a myriad of running injuries, anemia and a severe car injury with a prolonged rehabilitation prior to her junior year.  She persevered and continued to improve and fall more in love with running, especially long training runs in Annadel.  She has continued to improve on the track with PRs of 5:34 1600, 12:24 3200 and 2 trips to the Redwood Empire meet. She also has best of 20:03 on the SLC and 3rd team All Empire in 2018.



This scholar athlete also shines in the classroom with an unweighted GPA of 3.84.  Besides being a great student, her teachers are impressed with her addition to the classroom and a positive impact on her fellow students while also participating as a TA in English and further aiding her fellow students. Somehow she also found time for shadowing at the SRJC sports medicine clinic on Fridays and volunteering in the community, especially with the Coffey Park Restoration Project.

Our first scholarship recipient has truly found the “love” of running and the many ways it positively impacts her life.  She loves the hard work and the joy of running with a group on long runs, at times pushing for just an extra mile or so.  She is planning on continuing her running career at SRJC with Coach Wellman’s strong program and complete her AS in Kinesiology and pre-Nursing requirements for transfer into a BS in Nursing Program.

Please welcome, the former SRHS panther, future Bearcub: Katrina Frandsen

Our second Student Grant Recipient began his running career on the track as a sprinter.  His cross-country experience began with a painful long, hot and arduous 30-minute summer run, and then convinced himself to come back the next day.

His story is one of consistent hard work and steady improvement.  His first race on the SLC was 21:48 and a close loss to his coach.  Fast forward to this year and our SGF winner has improved to 17:01 in his first Varsity season and improving to the #4 runner at State XC in his best run of 17:49 on a full 5K course.  He has continued this improvement in Track with PRs this year of 2:09 800, 4:44 1600, 10:53 3200.



As important as continued improvement and dedication has been to our recipient’s positive experience, he is equally aware how important his developing great friendships with teammates has been.  The shared experience of long runs, interval training and road trips to Invitationals, NCS and State will be something he cherishes forever.

He has worked hard in the classroom with an unweighted GPA of 3.4 with many AP and JC classes peppering his schedule.  He enjoys physics and math and is planning to continue his education in the engineering or STEM fields.  He also volunteers at many Empire Runner events, the Redwood Food Bank, is an active member of multiple school clubs and is a TA for AP Language and Composition.  He also plans to run with Coach Wellman’s Bearcub XC team and to continue his running improvement while preparing himself to continue his schooling at a 4-year University. Please put your hands together for former Piner Prospector and future SRJC Bearcub: Addison Gaspar

Our third SGF award winner began running with the SR Express with her siblings prior to attending high school. Following her brothers to high school she has run Track and XC for 3 years.  She has PR’s of 5:49 in the 1600 and 12:42 in the 3200 (both school records) and has run under 21 minutes on the SLC while making all league in the CMC in both track and XC this year.  What makes this more remarkable is she is just finishing her junior year.  Due to her school closure she has finished her high school requirements early with an unweighted GPA of 3.97 and will matriculate to SRJC to complete GE requirements and a possible transfer to Masters University in the near future.  Our young scholarship recipient has excelled in the classroom and has had a positive impact on fellow students in athletics, in class and especially as she leads her Speech and Debate team in national competition.  She is also Captain of the XC team, where she leads more by example than words.



She will redshirt this next year at SRJC which will enable her to continue getting stronger and improving while maintaining her 4 years of eligibility after transfer to a 4-year University. Please welcome our youngest recipient: Former Rincon Valley Eagle and future Bearcub: Allie Methum

Our next recipient also prepped at RVC.  He ran with the Express beginning in the 4th grade and continued in Track and XC for all 4 years in high school.  He has been a leading runner on the Varsity for the last two years, voted MVP of XC in 2017 and Captain in 2018. He has a PR of 16:24 on the SLC and ran 17:06 for a full 5K at the California State XC Meet in 2018.  He was most proud of his whole team qualifying to State this year where they finished 4th overall, the best result from the Redwood Empire.  He also has bests of 4:30.1 in the 1600 and 9:43.2 for the 3200 on the track.



Our recipient is considered one of the most dedicated runners and leaders in his coach’s long and storied career.  This young runner has embraced every challenge and has encouraged his teammates at every turn.  The story is the same in the classroom where he has maintained an unweighted GPA of 4.00 and has been a great addition in every class.  He has goals to continue running in college and to get his degree in Business and Music Production.  He will attend Masters University in Santa Clarita in the fall and join his brother running for Coach Zach Schroeder. Please put your hands together the former Rincon Valley Christian Eagle, future Mustang and brother to our previous award winner: Isaac Methum

Our penultimate SGF recipient began XC in freshman year and was an immediate point scorer on the Varsity squad.  He ran a PR of 16:21 on the SLC and ran well at NCS and the State XC Meet (17:00 on a full 5K course).  He has had to put his goals on standby many times during his 4 years of Track and XC while dealing with Sever’s disease of the heel.  Not to be deterred he has rehabbed multiple times, retrained and continued to improve throughout his career with PR of 15:58 on the SLC course, 15:53 at Hayward and 16:44 for the full 5K at Woodward Park. He also has bests of 4:29 for the 1600 and 9:38 for the 3200.

While being one of the top runners in the area he has also been Captain of his XC team, leading by the example of hard work and perseverance.  He has also excelled in the classroom with an unweighted GPA of 3.51 with an all AP class load.  While juggling this schedule he finds time to be involved with the Christian Club, volunteer with the Empire Runners and Redwood Gospel Mission. nhayes.jpg

As a result of his injury and rehab history, this SGF recipient has developed an interest in sports medicine.  His goals are to run with Coach Wellman at SRJC and get to the State Meet in XC and improve to sub 4:15 in the mile, 9:00 in the 2 mile.  He wants to complete his pre-requisites in 2 years and complete his studies at a 4-year university and continue running at the collegiate level.  With his skills and work ethic I expect him to attain those goals. Please welcome to the stage former Prospector and future SRJC Bearcub from Piner HS: Nathan Hayes

Our sixth and final recipient is a 4-year Track and Field varsity athlete and a 1-year XC varsity runner.  She is an all-around sprinter/jumper having raced 100, 200, 400, relays and the long and triple jumps. Our recipient’s track accomplishments are of continued improvements culminating in making it to the Redwood Empire meet in the 400 with a PR of 1:03.68 as a junior and in the long and triple jumps as a senior with PRs of 16’6/34”, 33’10” respectively.  Her long jump PR just missed the Top 50 All Time Redwood Empire. In her first year in XC, this SGF recipient not only was an immediate consistent point getter at the varsity level but as a senior was a strong leader for a very young team.  Her PR on the SLC is 21:34 with only a couple of races on the course. She also played 3 years of soccer.



On a different note, in the classroom, our final recipient has been at the pinnacle of excellence since Day 1. She finished her high school career with an unweighted GPA of 4.0, and a weighted 4.8.  She is ranked #1 in her class and was the Valedictorian. She is a four-time CSF recipient and is the vice president of CSF.  She has found time to be a member of the Key, Asian, Math and PHAST clubs throughout high school and was chosen for the prestigious Sonoma State Internship Program (SHIP) for one on one summer collegiate research with a University professor in Kinesiology.  Her teachers, coaches and fellow students agree that what truly separates her is her kindness and generosity towards others.

Our final recipient is ready to matriculate to the University of her choice: UC Santa Barbara. We are proud to bring to the stage a truly remarkable young lady; the former Piner Prospector and future Gaucho. Please put your hands together for: Lauren Gregorio

Student Grant Fund Recipients 2018

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 $4250 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.

These four student-athletes will be formally introduced and awarded their scholarship checks at the Kenwood Footrace on July 4th. Please join us in congratulating these outstanding young members of our running community.


Our first recipient began her running career with an 8 minute mile during PE in middle school.  The accolades from her teacher lit a fire under the young runner and led to her running four years of cross country in high school.  Her freshman year her ability led her to run between 2 training groups.   Much of her training then was of a solo variety and the long hours spent chasing the front group led to much improvement but more importantly to develop what she calls, “grit”.  This grit and continued hard work was displayed in moving to the ‘front of the pack’ and becoming one of the top runners in league (CMC) and qualifying for the Division V state championships her next 3 years.  She not only represented her self and her league well, she put her school on the XC map.

This outstanding runner received many local accolades, including: Athlete of the Week (Heart and Sole) twice, All league 3 times, All Empire 3 times including 1st team in 2017, 4-time Scholar Athlete.  She also had many school accolades and is the school record holder on the Spring Lake Course with a 19:31 time.

She saved her best for last by medaling (7th Place overall) at a tough NCS course this year with a huge PR of 18:38.  She followed this with a 19th Place overall at the D5 State Championship on a very tough 5K course with a PR of 19:20.

Our recipient is also an outstanding student with many scholar and scholar athlete awards.  She has maintained a nearly 4.0 unweighted GPA (3.98) and much like her impact on her XC team she has been a great addition in the classroom.  Both her coaches and teachers agree her involvement in any activity brings up the level of those around her and her positive attitude and easy laugh is infectious.

This excellent choice for the ER Student Grant will be continuing her education and running career wearing the Purple and Gold of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.  This future Prairie Fire will be a ‘diamond in the rough’ for Coach Alex Moreno and his strong D3 ladies running program.  While there she will major in Theater with emphasis in stagecraft, technical theater (sets, costumes, etc.) and practical effects (stunts, flight, pyrotechnics) and Acting. Please welcome to the stage, from Tech High School, the gritty and accomplished:



Our second scholar athlete began his running career the summer before freshman year with summer training with his new high school.  When he arrived he was shy and knew nobody.  But after completing summer training the daunting thought of starting at a new school was gone and he began a 4-year sojourn with his XC and Track teams.  This runner started in the back of the pack but with hard work and dedication he developed into a 2-year varsity performer with a multi league championship team.

This scholar athlete has found running and his team to be the most impactful experience of his life.  He has found the bond of running with teammates has strengthened not only his physical skills but plays a major role in his scholastic achievement as well.

While running both XC and Track all 4 years he has found time to be actively involved in multiple school clubs, volunteer with the ER, Food Bank, Math Tutor and Spanish tutor.  He has received many scholastic awards including: Outstanding Scholar (Top 8 students), Gold GPA award and 8-time scholar athlete award winner.  He has maintained an unweighted 3.7 GPA.

Although beginning his running career as a JV runner (most improved) he continued to work and improve and was chosen by his coach and peers as a Captain of the XC team.  His PR on the Spring Lake Course is 18:00 and he travelled with his team to the State XC Championships this past year.  Because he works so hard and has the mindset for continued improvement I don’t feel he has tapped out his running potential.  I also think his leadership skills and running knowledge would translate to being a great coach if he were to choose that path.

Our second recipient will be attending UC Davis in the fall.  This future Aggie will be continuing his education in International Relations and running with the Aggie Running Club. Please give a big hand for this former Piner Prospector:



Our 3rd ER Grant recipient began her high school career with some accolades from middle school XC and continued that, achieving Varsity status as a freshman, running a season PR of 20:36 and 3rd team All league.  Sophomore year showed continued improvement with a 19:34 PR and 2nd team All league.  Junior year was more of the same with a 19:44 PR and 1st team All league.  Our recipient also made All Empire sophomore and junior years.  Senior year had her making second team all league with a number of sub 20min Spring Lake Course races.  This scholar athlete also had success on the track with a best 2-mile time of 11:43 during track season and at the HOKA 2-mile madness junior and senior years.  Her best year in track was junior year when she qualified for the Redwood Empire meet in the 800, 1600 and 3200.

With those results you might think everything was easy for our recipient, but that would be far from the truth.  She hardly had a season that wasn’t negatively impacted by a myriad of ailments including bone development problems, severe anemia and pneumonia.  This illness history has kept her from meeting her potential.  Her illnesses would have had a weaker individual possibly quitting the sport but she came back from each setback working harder, very positive and responding with excellent results.

This scholar athlete’s excellent attitude is beyond reproach and has a positive impact on her teammates resulting in multiple Captain awards in both Track and XC.  That being said, her favorite may be her Most Inspirational Award voted by her teammates last XC year (2017).  Her coaches were impressed at her leadership skills including regular motivational speeches prior to races often leading to improved performances.  I truly feel lucky that I was one of those coaches that experienced the “Jazzy effect”.

On the scholarly side our athlete was an NCS scholar athlete 8 times, recipient of the MHS Boosters Scholarship, NCS Foundation Scholarship and a perfect unweighted GPA of 4.0 while taking a mixed IB/AP Honors curriculum.  She was also a finalist for the Redwood Empire Scholar Athlete Award.  This was accomplished with a full slate of volunteer opportunities and a part time job at a local Engineering firm.  It was said best by one of her teachers; “she will crawl inside your heart, make herself comfortable and while there remodel the place making room for more.”

Our scholar athlete will continue her education and running career on a partial scholarship at Division 2, Academy of the Arts University in San Francisco majoring in Fashion Design.  I expect to see her continue to achieve in both her running and scholarship. This Fall she will be running in the black and red colors of the Urban Knights. Please give a warm welcome to the former MHS Viking:



Our final ER scholarship recipient almost doesn’t need an introduction.  She has spent more time on the sports pages of the Press Democrat than almost any other high school athlete in the last 30 years.  She also happens to be arguably the greatest combi track and field athlete ever in the Redwood Empire and maybe the state; boy or girl.  Our recipient finished her high school career #1 All-Time Redwood Empire in the 100(11.87), 200(24.17), 400(54.07), 300LH(42.68) and the 400LH(62.18).  These are State Meet level times and she medaled at that meet in the 200, 400 qualifying in at least one event all 4 years.  Her 300LH time was run early in the season and was about 0.5 sec behind the eventual state meet winner.  Her 400H time run only once this year at Stanford in early April was #2 in the nation. Per her coach, “she is willing to perform any event except the PV to get points for the team”.  Anything includes both relays where she led her 400R team to #2 AT in 3:55 qualifying for the State Meet, the DT and SP where she not only produced valuable points but finished 25th and 45th AT in the RE.  She also ended up #3 AT in the LJ (18’11”) which she jumped freshman year only.

If that body of work doesn’t impress you she also ran XC Soph/JR and was her school’s top runner both years, finishing 1st team All League and All RE her junior year with a PR of 19:34 on SLC.  Winning races from 100M to 5K is virtually unheard of in California.  If that isn’t impressive her coach noted how inspirational she is as a team leader both in XC and in Track especially tutoring the new runners in baton passing.

One might think that our scholar athlete is just physically gifted but she also had health issues after her freshman year and worked hard to recover and come back stronger and better while finding great solace with her team; training and racing.  While performing at the highest level athletically our student grant recipient also performed admirably in the classroom with an unweighted GPA of 3.6 in an honors level curriculum, including Spanish and Italian all the while a member of the symphonic band in the School of Arts.  She not only succeeds in the classroom she also peer tutors in Sports Medicine class.

kirstin carter 2 all empire 2018

Her high school experience has prepared her for success at the next level both in sports and academically.  She has accepted a scholarship to attend UC Davis in the Fall and plans to major in Political Science with a minor in Spanish.  Picking her events may be difficult and will probably include a relay or two and the 400H but don’t be surprised if she doesn’t follow her fellow alumni, Wendi Simmons and end up a national level heptathlete. Whatever happens she has a clear plan with multiple short-term goals to improve consistently throughout college and minimize the stress.  Our final scholarship winner will be trading the orange and black of SRHS for the blue and white and becoming a lifelong Aggie.  I am proud to present to you:



This article written by Brad Zanetti,

co-chair along with Paul Berg of the ER Student Grant Fund.