The final tuneup before next week's district cross country meets went just the way it was supposed to: Waller, Krcmaric and Ridgewood.
River Ridge's Jacki Waller and Ridgewood's Matt Krcmaric ran to individual titles, and both Rams' varsity teams continued their season-long county dominance at Saturday's Sunshine Athletic Conference championships.
Led by the 2-3-4 finish of Stacey Jones, Charlotte Robson and Stephanie Barndollar, the Ridgewood girls scored 24 points, ahead of Gulf's 41. The boys placed all five scorers in the top 14 to place ahead of River Ridge 33-76. It was the Rams' girls sixth consecutive conference title, and the fourth in a row for the boys.
"We had homecoming this week, all week, so it occupied a lot of my kids' energy. I was hoping we'd pull through that, and we did," Rams coach Glenn Cable said. "We had two-thirds of our runners have personal bests today, and on this course that's quite a lot."
Waller broke the course record in winning in 11 minutes, 43 seconds, her second consecutive SAC title. Jones was second by 14 seconds, the closest she has come this year to Waller.
Tara Ramirez was sixth for the Rams, and Alexis Rodriguez was ninth.
Ridgewood and Gulf combined for 10 of the top 11 finishes. Leading the Bucs was Jenny Gregan, who was fifth. Gulf was without Leah Wojnar, who won the junior varsity race in an effort to rehabilitate a sore foot.
"We ran really good," said Dean Lofton, the Gulf coach. "We were a little closer, but Ridgewood has a good team. Awesome. We're just chasing their heels."
Krcmaric's title was his second consecutive. Ridgewood and River Ridge alternated the first five finishes, but after Mike Dorkowski's fourth-place finish, the Royal Knights didn't score again until 20th place.
For the second consecutive week, they ran without Chris Hannon, their top runner, who is out with bursitis. He will run next week at districts, however, coach Bill Napolitano said.
Finishing behind Krcmaric for the Rams were Ian Finn (3rd), James Ceccarini (5th), Billy Wood (10th) and Aaron Sample (14th). Each earned all-conference honors, which go to the top 14 individual finishers.