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Former UCSB Star Tori Tsolis Sets Women’s Elite Record in State Street Mile

Gaucho assistant Darius Terry wins men's elite title; Geoffrey Gray and lab Hank Martukas take dog mile

The women’s elite division in Sunday’s State Street Mile was a three-runner race between, from left, Ayla Granados, Tori Tsolis and Alycia Cridebring. Tsolis made a final surge to win in a course record time of 4:22.
The women’s elite division in Sunday’s State Street Mile was a three-runner race between, from left, Ayla Granados, Tori Tsolis and Alycia Cridebring. Tsolis made a final surge to win in a course record time of 4:22. (Frtiz Olenberger photo)

In attempting to qualify for the USA Track & Field Championships, Tori Tsolis thought about attending a meet in Boston during the week. But with the 18th annual State Street Mile on the calendar, it was a no-brainer for her to return to the old stomping grounds in Santa Barbara.

The trip from her hometown of San Jose was well worth it for the former UC Santa Barbara track star as she won Sunday’s women’s elite division in an exciting down-to-the-wire finish among three runners and set a course record in the process.

Tsolis, making a last-second surge at the finish line, won in 4 minutes, 22 seconds. She edged out her Strava Track Club teammate Ayla Granados and defending champion and previous record older Alycia Cridebring of Davis. They both were timed in 4:23.

State Street Mile Results

Darius Terry, a UCSB track team assistant who coached Tsolis, won the men’s elite division title in 3:54. David Cardona of Torrance was second and Michael Davila of Moreno Valley came in third, both timed in 3:55. Eight runners clocked under four minutes in the downhill race.

Terry was racing down State Street less than 24 hours after finishing second in the 1500 (3:44.51) at the Jim Bush USA Track & Field Meet in Pomona.

“I was pretty sore, but I was able to double back and did pretty well,” he said of Sunday’s win. “It was close. There was a guy who made a move with about a quarter of a mile to go and I had to cover it, so I went with him.

“I was starting to turn over, so I figured I just got to go for it and I hung on.”

Terry, an All-American in the 1500 at Arizona State in 2011, finished third last year.

“It was nice to come back and get a win this time,” he said.

Terry was happy for Tsolis, who is the school record holder at UCSB.

“She finished second last year and wanted some redemption as well,” he said. “It’s nice to see her go on and continue to improve.”

Tsolis, Granados and Cridebring battled all the way from Pedregosa Street down to the finish at De la Guerra Street.

“Last year, some of the girls took it out and I kind of sat and watched,” recalled Tsolis, a 2016 UCSB graduate. “But this year, my coach was like, ‘No gaps.’ We’ve been working on that all season — don’t let anyone get too much of a gap on you. So I had to stay with them.”

Darius Terry, an assistant track coach at UC Santa Barbara, won the men’s elite race in 3:54. Eight runners ran under four minutes. Click to view larger
Darius Terry, an assistant track coach at UC Santa Barbara, won the men’s elite race in 3:54. Eight runners ran under four minutes. (Frtiz Olenberger photo)

The three runners were bunched up like a race on the track. It was now a matter of who had the best finishing kick.

“I’m always confident in my kick and I went, and they were all still right with me. And I said, ‘Crap!’” Tsolis said. “We all kind of switched off at first for a little bit and it came down to the line and I just found out that I won.”

Tsolis and Terry each won $1,000 for winning the elite races, and Tsolis earned a $1,000 bonus for setting a course record.

Tsolis, who is training under former Stanford coach Dena Evans, is trying to qualify for a spot in the 1500 at the USA Track & Field Championships in Sacramento in two weeks. She recently ran a PR of 4:14.92 at the USATF Distance Classic at Occidental College. The qualifying standard is 4:09.50.

“I considered going to Boston to race this week but I really wanted to come here,” she said. “It’s always fun to come back to Santa Barbara. I spent five years of my life here.”

She plans to race in a couple of meets in Portland next week to meet the qualifying standard.

The course record for the women’s 60-over division was shattered. Yayoi Liu, 60, of Irvine, ran 6:11, breaking the previous mark of 6:50. She finished seventh overall in the division.

Carl Stromberg of Santa Clarita beat out Goleta’s Dave Clark for first place in the 60-over division (5:21 to 5:29). Stromberg, 62, is a former NAIA All-American in the steeplechase at Nebraska-Kearney and a standout runner for the Santa Clarita Runners.

This was his third straight year running the State Street Mile.

Geoffrey Gray and his dog, Hank Martukas, won the dog mile in 4:37. Click to view larger
Geoffrey Gray and his dog, Hank Martukas, won the dog mile in 4:37. (Frtiz Olenberger photo)

“I love the organization and the community involvement,” he said. “It’s really fantastic.

“I ran through high school and college. I got married and got a job, and gave it up for 35 years. Three years ago, I started running again. My son (Grant), who runs in college (Cal Poly Pomona), said, ‘Dad, it’s time to get back in shape.’ It’s been fun.”

Stromberg said in 10 days he’ll be competing in a national masters meet in Birmingham, Ala., running the 1500 and a 5k road race.

The winners of the popular dog mile race had something in common: they each are owners of running gear companies in Santa Barbara. The overall champion, Dr. Geoffrey Gray, with his 7-year-old white labrador, Hank Martukas, is founder of Heeluxe, a company that specializes in scientific testing of footwear. Female winner Jill Deering, running with a chihuahua mix, Abbey, is co-owner of the clothing and apparel company, rabbit.

Gray and Hank built such a big lead that even a fall in the final 300 meters didn’t hurt them.

“We pretty much led from pole to pole, but with a 300 meters left he kind of ran in front of me and I totally pitched it,” Gray said. “I got a little road rash. I don’t know how many people fall and still win a mile.

“He just clipped my leg and I fell. I don’t know what happened after that, it was all muscle memory — just get up and go.”

Gray and Hank were racing in their fifth State Street Mile and had one win under their belt, and collar.

The fall wasn’t going to stop them for winning for a second time.

“I’ve been thinking about winning this race for a long time,” Gray said. “Once I saw there was nobody in front of me before that finish line I wasn’t going to let anybody take it.”

Their winning time was 4:37.

Brothers Ozzie Berger, 6, left, and Calvin, 3, of Goleta, are kept on course by their mom in the 10-and-under race. Click to view larger
Brothers Ozzie Berger, 6, left, and Calvin, 3, of Goleta, are kept on course by their mom in the 10-and-under race. (Fritz Olenberger photo)

Gray said Hank was a rescue dog and that its name at the shelter was Miles.

“I thought that was a good sign,” he said with a smile.

Deering was running with Abbey for the first time. The dog belongs to her longtime friend, Mariah Velasquez. They finished ninth overall in 5:38.

“We should have a size-grading for dogs,” Deering cracked, referring to the size difference between Abbey and most of the dogs in the race. “She’s only 3 and running in her first State Street Mile, so we didn’t know what to expect. She’s a sweet little rescue dog.”

Deering, a local attorney and avid runner (she did the Ventura Marathon last weekend), said she had blast running with Abbey.

“It was so much fun,” she said. “You just have to expect not knowing what to expect.”

As always, the family division had the largest group of entries. Parents ran with their young children, many of them holding hands as the crossed the finish line. Some parents were doing their second race of the day, first competing in an age-group race and then going back uphill to join their kids in the family run.

The run also included parents pushing strollers, carrying kids in packs and running with the family dog.

All proceeds from the State Street Mile go directly to the Victim-Witness Assistance Program’s Victim Emergency Fund, a program of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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