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Piedmont sweeps St. Mary’s

By Jared Green
Friday October 11, 2002


Go ahead, call her “Wrong Way” Gabriela Rios-Sotelo. You can also call her a winner. 

Rios-Sotelo, a St. Mary’s High sophomore, took two wrong turns on the cross country course at Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland but still managed to win the girls varsity race on Thursday. It was the second week in a row that Rios-Sotelo took a detour in a Bay Shore Athletic League race, and she’s won both races. 

“I just get in race mode, and I block everything out,” Rios-Sotelo said. “I know the course, and I’m used to that route. I just wasn’t thinking.” 

Rios-Sotelo’s first wrong turn wasn’t completely her fault, as the race monitor at the main junction neglected to point her in the right direction until a group of Piedmont runners had taken the correct route.  

That slipup put Rios-Sotelo, usually the front-runner, into the middle of the pack. She made her way out front again in preparation for the last mile of the race, but again fell back when she forgot to turn off of the main drag on the third lap, making it all the way to the finish line before  

realizing her mistake and doubling back.  

With much of the remaining distance a single-lane trail, the St. Mary’s coaches feared their star would get stuck behind slower traffic, but she broke into the clear for the home stretch and won by a wide margin. 

St. Mary’s head coach Denis Mohun said Rios-Sotelo’s frustration over her gaffes may have helped her win the race. 

“If anything, I think it gave Gabby more fuel,” Mohun said. “She got upset and took it out on the course.” 

Piedmont has one of the strongest girls teams in the state, and its depth overcame Rios-Sotelo’s individual excellence. The next three finishers were all Highlanders, with St. Mary’s Emily Olsen finishing fifth, and Piedmont won the day comfortably. 

The boys’ race was much closer, with the Highlanders winning by a single point, 27-28. Although St. Mary’s appeared to be in control after two miles, with seven of the top 10 runners, Piedmont came back to make it a much more competitive race.  

“We surged on the first hill, but we just died on the second hill,” St. Mary’s Tino Rodriguez said of the race. “I don’t know why we all let down at the same time.” 

The Highlanders’ Sandino Moya-Smith won the race, pulling away from St. Mary’s Scott Howard and Martinez, who finished second and third respectively. Piedmont took the next two places, and when Ricky Griffin edged St. Mary’s freshman Tommy Vasquez for seventh place, it gave the Highlanders the victory. 

“I’m disappointed we didn’t win, but that’s the best I’ve ever seen the Piedmont boys run,” Mohun said. “We competed extremely hard, and this was the first time any of our boys have run this course. They’ll learn how to handle the hills.”