Buchanan High's C.J. Albertson and Hagen Reedy matched the weather and delivered marvelous performances Saturday morning in the Clovis Invitational cross country meet at Woodward Park.
Reaffirming their status as two of the state's elite runners while competing in ideal conditions -- low 60s, sunshine and calm -- Albertson placed first and Reedy second in the Championship divisions of a meet long established as one of the best in the West.
The 33rd edition swelled to record proportions -- 180 teams and 3,900 individuals -- while again attracting a majority of top runners and teams from the state.
They've typically arrived in large part to acclimate themselves to the course also used for the CIF State Championships.
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And it will be here on the 3.1-mile Woodward venue Nov. 26 that Albertson, given his current pace, will be the Division I favorite.
"I'm right where I want to be," the senior said after remaining unbeaten in four meets this season while finishing in 15 minutes, 1 second.
Albertson, fourth in last year's state D-I final at 14:51 -- the venue's best for a junior and No. 8 all-time overall -- dueled with Bryan Guijarro (15:07) before separating from the Knight-Palmdale senior in the final 400 yards.
"I just cruised with him until the last 400 and then I went for the win," Albertson said. "I didn't care about the time; all I wanted was the win. It was a pretty comfortable run."
The 5-foot-7, 135-pounder will have four more meets before the 25th state finals, where only Fresno High's Michael Kasahun (1996) has captured a boys D-I title from the Central Section.
"I've been feeling great; this has been my best year by far, training- wise," Albertson said 5 hours before boarding a plane for a recruiting visit to Arizona State.
He also has visited Portland and Butler, has scheduled a trip to Cal and may go to Stanford.
Albertson combines with Reedy as the finest 1-2 coed punch in Buchanan history.
And that says something.
This is a 19-year program, in state finals, that has produced five top-five team finishes in the boys, three in the girls, six top-10 individual finishes in the boys and five in the girls.
Further, this comes a year after the Bears had Albertson and Kevin Barnard (10th) lead the boys to fifth and Macy Bricks (seventh) power the girls to third.
Reedy, a remarkable 27th (18:23) at the state meet last year though pained with severe tendinitis and a stress fracture, smoked a personal record 17:43.
And, while her legs were healthy, she still was somewhat restricted because of congestion: "I've been struggling all week because of the sickness, so I'm really happy with that time."
Ultimately, she is gunning for at least a 17:30 and a top-three state finish.
"If I can get healthy," she said, "that can happen."
Better, Buchanan coach Brian Weaver said, a potential double gold with Albertson could happen.
"Hagen wants to be top three," he said, "but we all know there's other aspirations, too. On that day [of the state finals], on her home course and with the home crowd, she's very capable of getting on the victory stand."
Reedy led for the first half of Saturday's race before being run down by Oakmont-Roseville junior Karlie Garcia (17:22), another tiny marvel in the state's D-I.
A year after Simi Valley freshman Sarah Baxter (5-0, 83) won the state, and three years after Mission Prep's Jordan Hasay (5-1, 98) authored the last of her four titles, Garcia has rebounded after having her sophomore year torpedoed by an intestinal infection in cross country and a broken foot in track and field.
But not to be disheartened for the 2009 Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals All-American: "I love it. I just want to stay healthy all season; that's my goal."
Other section highlights:
- Clovis West senior Celum Clay (15:45) won the boys' Division I gold.