CROSS COUNTRY: Christopher freshman qualifies for state championships

Gilroy's Noemi Rivera, left, and Carla Lozano begin the race during the CCS cross country event Saturday at El Toro Park in Salinas.

As a freshman, Christopher’s Jamie Boutte didn’t know what to expect entering Saturday’s Central Coast Section cross country championship at Toro Park in Salinas. Her head coach, Mike Bonomi, wasn’t sure what he was going to see from the young freshman on the section stage.

Neither, though, could have expected what happened. Boutte, fighting a side cramp, raced out to an early lead and stayed inside the top-five to finish with a personal-best time of 19 minutes, 14 seconds. More important, though, her fifth-place finish clinched a berth into the Nov. 24 California Interscholastic Federation State Championships in Fresno.

“It’s pretty cool that I get to experience this,” she said. “Not a lot of people do, so it’s exciting.”

Boutte looked strong from the beginning, taking a brief lead after the first turn. During the rest of the race, Boutte did exactly what her plan was coming in – stay within striking distance of the front, she said.

“I just wanted to get into the front so I didn’t get stuck behind,” she said. “I pushed through the hills and stayed there. I felt all right. I got a rally bad side cramp and I think I could have done better if I hadn’t gotten it.”

But by improving her personal record by more than 40 seconds, she did just find, Bonomi said.

“She just stayed up there,” Bonomi said. “Still for her to PR for 40 seconds. It’s huge. Of course, I’m happy that she qualified for state and had a chance to medal. I’m very proud of her. I’m very happy.”

Boutte is only going to get better and faster with more experience, Bonomi said. Regardless of how she runs during the state championship, it was a successful learning experience for the young Cougars.

“I just want her to run well and run strong at state,” he said. “This will be a good experience for all of us. I just want her to soak it all in and realize what she accomplished.”

The rest of the Cougars also set personal best times during the Division III race. Fellow freshman Natalie Filippi (20:28) took 23rd for the Cougars. In her final high school race, senior Allison Taylor (22:27) set a career best time to finish in 70th place.

“I’m supper happy with the whole team,” Bonomi said. “ We ran well as a team. For each person to PR or come close to it is great. We competed well. I wanted them to just, you know, run strong and do the best they could and they did just that.”

In the same girls race, a pair of Gilroy High School runners finished in the bottom half of the standings. In her final race, Gilroy senior Noemi Rivera (22:34) placed 76th. Mustang freshman Carla Lozano placed 87th with a time of 23:06.

In the boys Division III race, senior Enrique Villanueva, the Mustangs’ only other participant, ran well to finish just outside the top 30. Villanueva stayed close to a top-20 finish but fell back in the end to place 31st with a time of 17:16.

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