A decade of dominance ended Wednesday as the Berkeley High cross country boys defeated Alameda High, the first time the Hornets have failed to win a league meet in more than 10 years.
Junior Alex Enscoe, the reigning ACCAL cross country champion, led the Yellowjackets with a first-place finish of 15:56 on the three-mile course at Point Pinole in Richmond. Enscoe finished 14 seconds ahead of the second-place runner, Yoji Reichert of Alameda.
Berkeley’s Nic Riley, however, was the key to the win, finishing third in 16:32. By beating Alameda’s Marty Skeels (who tied with Pinole Valley’s Nick Falzone for fourth place), Riley virtually assured the Jackets of victory.
“Nic coming in third needed to happen for us to win,” Berkeley head coach Dave Goodrich said. “We actually did more than we needed to to win, but Nic was very important.”
Clinching the race were Berkeley’s next four finishers, who finished 6-9 and keep the Hornets from grabbing any extra points. Bradley Johnson, Jon Finney, Sarmed Anwar and Alex Weisman came across the finish line before another Alameda runner to sew up the win.
Goodrich said he compared his team’s results with Alameda’s at separate invitational meets last weekend and told each runner whom he needed to beat in order for Berkeley to win. The Jackets reached every one of their goals on Wednesday, the first of three ACCAL meets this season.
“We just had a great race,” Goodrich said. “I asked a lot of guys to do certain things, and every one of them did what I asked.”
Enscoe beat Reichert by a wide margin despite staying on his rival’s heels for almost the entire race. The Berkeley runner took off with 800 meters left in the race, using his saved energy to blow by Reichert.
Enscoe and Reichert have run against each other numerous times, but Enscoe said he never knows exactly how things will shake out between the two of them.
“I just went out with Yoji in front of me,” Enscoe said. “I just waited until the end to see how hard he would go. I just had more left at the end.”
Enscoe and his teammates have been building toward beating Alameda for the last two seasons, nearly knocking off the Hornets in the final league meet last season. With Enscoe emerging as the league’s top runner and Riley making a big leap forward over the summer, the Jackets knew they were ready to finally take down the league’s power.
“Last year we came pretty close to beating them,” Enscoe said. “I think we knew this was our best chance, and we went out and did it.”