North County athletes compete at 43rd Annual Morro Bay Invitational event

By Neil Farrell


NORTH COUNTY — The local high school cross country season got off to a cool and foggy start on Sept. 9 with the running of the 43rd Annual Morro Bay Invitational meet.

Hundreds of runners from about 50 schools traveled from all over California to the meet, which is known for one of the most challenging cross country courses anywhere.


And while San Luis Obispo High School (SLOHS) ran off with several team titles, there were several bright spots for North Coast schools and one race champion, too.

The meet was broken down into Boys and Girls Varsity, Junior Varsity and Frosh-Soph races and each one had over 100 runners, with over 200 for Girls Varsity. Course lengths varied, with 3-mile distances for the Varsity and JV races and 1.5-mile “Dash” courses for the Frosh-Soph. In cross country, it matters more how fast you run than what grade in school you are, so it is not unusual to see juniors and seniors running JV or freshmen running varsity.

In the Boys Varsity 3-mile race, it was Templeton’s outstanding senior, Joshua Bell, leaving everyone in the dust, taking the win in an impressive 13 minutes, 22.2 seconds. 

Second place went to SLOHS senior Weston Greenelsh (in 14:09.2), and Bakersfield junior Alex Valencia was third (14:25.2). Paso Robles High School (PRHS) junior Tyler Daillak finished fourth in 14:15.6, and Bakersfield junior Liam McKnight was fifth in 14:16.2.

Other top local kids were Morro Bay’s Otis Kelly, who was 21st in 15:05; PRHS junior Bishop Morsette, in 22nd place in 15:07; Templeton High School (THS) sophomore William Wallace, placing 58th in 15:58; and Eagles teammate Nikita Norton, a senior, finishing in 59th (15:58.2).

Three local boys followed each other to the finish line. PRHS sophomore Brian Arndt was 81st in 16:18, THS senior Cohen Wallace 82nd in 16:23, and PRHS senior Aiden Gibson 83rd in 16:25.

The Boys’ Varsity race had 219 runners competing and it was SLOHS posting the team win, scoring just 45 points (with top-5 runners). Second place went to Clovis High with 87 points, and Bakersfield was third with 108. Fourth went to Dos Pueblos with 134, and fifth was Stockdale with 148.

PRHS was eighth with 240 points, and THS was 10th with 277. 

In the Girls Varsity race, top local runners included Templeton High junior Taylor Sutton, who was 19th in 18:21.2; THS junior Melissa Chavez, 55th in 19:41.2; PRHS sophomore Pippin Came, 58th in 19:49.2; and junior Kylie Troy of PRHS was 60th in 19:51.2.

PRHS junior Jordan Hammond was 67th in 20:04; and PRHS freshman Kinleigh Morud was 92nd in 20:52.

The Girls Varsity race had 199 runners compete. In the team scoring, San Luis Obispo High won with 74 points and Madera South was second at 91. Third went to Clovis High with 109 points, and fourth was Highland with 123. Fifth was Stockdale with 189.

In team scoring, Atascadero was fifth and Paso Robles ninth. Templeton finished 14th out of 21 teams.

Images: Several North County runners from Atascadero, Paso Robles, and Templeton competed in the Morro Bay Invitational cross country meet on Sept. 9. Photos by Neil Farrell