Yosemite High cross country Coach Ellen Peterson took her staff and 60 Badger cross country runners to Walnut Oct. 23 and 24, to compete in the 68th annual Mount San Antonio College Invitational, a Badger tradition that Peterson and the team cherish.
Meet organizers bill the event as the “largest cross country invitational in the world.”
“We look forward to Mt. SAC every year,” Peterson said. “This was our 30th year participating at Mt. SAC. I want our runners to experience a great event. It’s something runners and their parents will remember the rest of their lives.”
Peterson called the Mt. SAC experience “amazing.”
“There are 20,000 plus runners, 111 races, with more than 150 runners in each race,” Peterson said. “Meet officials run a race every nine minutes. It’s a huge logistical challenge but the organizers pull it off with near perfection every year. There isn’t anything like it anywhere.”
Yosemite cross country runners competed at a high in the 91-degree heat.
Competing in the sophomore D-III, Gabby Stegge and Russell Zelazo were medal winners for Yosemite. Stegge finished sixth in a field of 160 runners. Zelazo finished eighth amongst 150 competitors.
“Just one race is as large as any major invitational in the Central Valley,” Peterson said. “Gabby and Russell ran great races. Both ran well on Mt. SAC’s famous three-mile course. It is probably the most famous course in all cross country. The course contains three tough hill climbs ... officials really motivate runners playing music on top of each hill. It is a great experience for any high school cross country runner.”
From Mt. SAC, the Badgers and thousands of meet participants converged at Magic Mountain on Saturday and Sunday.
“Everyone had a great time at Magic Mountain,” Peterson said. “Basically, the park was full of runners and their families. It was another great adventure.”