It's called the Great Race of the Great Bay of the Great American Cross Country Festival.
And for the Carson High School cross country program, the meet in San Francisco on Saturday is going to be a great test.
Carson will be among the 114 girls and boys high schools representing 11 states that will compete in the invitational varsity division at Golden Gate Park. The boys and girls competition will be divided into six heat races, three each for boys and girls. The Senators' girls will run at 9:20 a.m. and the boys at 10:20 a.m.
These races will serve as a great measuring stick because several nationally regarded and teams and individuals will be at the meet.
"I think the kids are pretty excited about this," Carson coach Jason Macy said. "It's pretty rare when a team from Carson gets to compete against the top-ranked team in the nation, and when you see athletes like that, it can only bring you up."
Carson's girls will face a formidable field in their 9:20 a.m. Section III race. For starters, there's Saratoga Springs, N.Y., mythical national champions in 1993, '95, '96, '97 and 2000, and listed No. 1 in the current preseason national rankings. Saratoga Springs is led by Nicole Blood, who ran a converted 10:49.29 for 3200 meters as a middle school student this past spring, and sophomore Amanda Meyer. Eisenhower of Washington returns four runners from its state 4A championship team of last year and Lake Braddock of Virginia remains among the East's formidable teams despite graduating four of its varsity seven from a year ago. Two other entries in the race, Esperanza of Anaheim and Maria Carrillo of Santa Rosa are two California programs with rich traditions.
The Senators will have a vested interest in the other races. For example, the defending Nevada 4A state girls champion Centennial Bulldogs from Las Vegas will be running in the Section II race immediately before them in a race that will also feature Utah power Mountain View High, Snohomish of Washington and perennial California power San Lorenzo Valley.
"Centennial is the defending state champion and they have everybody back," Macy said. "No doubt, we will take a look at how they do and how we stack up with them at this point in the season."
The Invitation Section III boys will be talent-laden as well. Midlothian of Virginia is ranked as the No. 25 team in the nation, and individually speaking, Carl Dambkowski of Granada (Livermore, Calif.), listed as a
preseason All-American talent by "The Harrier" magazine, has run 9:06.97 for 3200 meters and Kevin Davis of Clovis West (Central California) has run 9:05.52.
Mountain View (Utah) was last year's mythical national boys team champion and returns a nucleus good enough to receive a No. 4 national preseason ranking.