CMS and Westmont athletes raced past sand-sculpture artists, drumming circles, and Olympic volleyball players this Saturday at the annual Nationball Classic. For years, the two teams have gathered here at the Santa Barbara coast to test their racing legs and, more importantly, their Nationball prowess. CMS athletes dominated the men's and women's races with each team winning 15-48. Both teams remain top ranked in the West Region in the first official rankings of the 2012 season.
Brian Sutter (pictured), a senior from CMC, won the race in 21:32, with teammate Rafer Dannenhauer just three seconds off his shoulder. The top finishers were nicely packed together: sophomore Justin Jones crossed the line in 21:47, followed by freshman Zorg Loustalet (21:50), junior Colin Briskman (22:01), senior Quinn Chasan (22:12), senior Bennett Naden (22:15), sophomore Alex Mauro (22:16), and junior Jonathan Briskman (22:19).
Freshman superstar Bridget Blum kicked in a win for the women's race with a time of 24:14, followed closely by alumni Hannah Marie (24:15) and sophomore Sara Mostatabi (24:18). Senior Marnie Hogue crossed the line in 25:48, and juniors Allison Barnwell and Laura Sauvage shared a time of 25:54. Seniors Laura Wyatt and Aubrey Zimmerling finished in 26:11 and 26:20, followed by sophomore Kaitlyn Spees (26:21), sophomore Taia Wu (26:24), junior Lisa Beem (26:45) and sophomore Danielle Knott (26:46).
After catching their breaths, the runners headed down to the beach, where three deadly bouncy balls awaited them. The Nationball tournament was a grueling event this year. As they gathered for the championship round, The Stagthenas knew in their hearts that the competition would be steep. Several key Westmont players had returned, including the world-renowned Hurricane whose devastating accuracy has made him a legend. "I was kind of intimidated," Russell Page shares, "but then I thought of the mountains of New Mexico, and that really inspired me."
Several spectators flocked the court, including parents, coaches, pelicans and an assortment of wandering hippies. The game was brutally fierce. Sand flew, runners dove, and bouncy balls pummeled into flesh. For a time the outlook seemed grim, but under the brave leadership of the battle-savvy seniors—Aubrey Zimmerling reportedly saved a group of Athenas by diving in front of them—CMS pulled it together for a brilliant victory.
Based on their early racing and Nationball accomplishments, the CMS cross-country team is looking very strong this season. This upcoming weekend the runners will race through groves of oranges and avocados at the highly-competitive UC Riverside Invitational.