Heading down south for their biggest run of the season, the Escalon Cougars cross country team took several competitors to the Mt. SAC (San Antonio College) meet in Walnut, near Los Angeles.
“This is the largest cross country meet in the nation. We only take runners that are fast enough to satisfy the meet’s requirements,” said head coach Rick Heflin. “If you do not run a certain speed you are escorted off the course because there are cut off times for a mile, two mile, etc. Our runners ran plenty fast enough to finish.”
The boys team placed ninth out of 21 squads with Juan Lopez the first finisher for the Cougars, crossing the line at 37th overall in 18:17. Following him were Gabe Romero 50th, 18:34; Emiliano Ramirez 53rd in 18:36; Moises Grajeda 64th in 18:56; Alex Jimenez 70th, 19:07; and Xavier Chavez, 98th, 20:02.
“Mount Sac is a very hilly course that challenges the best runners,” Heflin noted.
For the girls, Briana Briones placed sixth in her race with a time of 19:47.
“The meet is so big that there are several Division 4 races. She was seventh overall in the meet if you look at both Division 4 races. She was in the faster race,” said Heflin. “At times she was leading the race. When you consider last year at this time she was in a brace recovering from ACL surgery, she is doing awesome. She is doing awesome even if you didn’t know she was coming back from major surgery.”
Thursday, Oct. 25 is the Trans-Valley League final for the Cougars. First race is 3 p.m.
“This is our senior night; this year we have seven seniors, all boys. Daniel Luis, Angel Sanchez, Ross Calderon, Xavier Chavez, Adrian Roque, Victor Gonzalez, and Alex Jimenez,” Heflin said. “We only have two four-year athletes, Daniel and Victor.”
Heflin said the individual league champion for the girls likely will be decided at this race, with Briones in contention for the title.