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Cougar Varsity Squads Finish In Front
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Woodward Reservoir northeast of Escalon was buzzing with activity on Wednesday, though none of it was in the water.

Runners from a dozen schools took to the course at Woodward, taking part in Escalon's annual Division IV and V Invitational. Temperatures peaked at near 90 degrees, making for a hot run.

The host Cougar runners made a strong showing in all divisions on the day.

"We took 36 medals out of there," said coach Rick Heflin.

Races went off in 20-minute intervals at first, kicked off by the freshman girls at 3:30 p.m. Freshman boys started at 3:50 p.m., followed by sophomore girls, 4:10 p.m.; sophomore boys, 4:30 p.m. and varsity girls, 4:50 p.m. The varsity boys went off a half hour later, at 5:20 p.m. Final race of the day, the JV boys and girls, began at 5:50 p.m.

"Our freshmen girls battled it out but Bret Harte won, 27-28," noted Heflin.

Megan Moore was first across the line for Escalon in 17:34 for the 2.2-mile course and was eighth overall. She was followed by Faryn Bolls, 10th, 17:45; Katie Kaech, 12th, 17:54; Hollee Turner, 15th, 18:34 and Kayla Ryan, 22nd, 21:52.

Escalon had just one runner in the freshman boys race, Thomas Ray finishing third overall in 14:38.

"In the sophomore boys race, Bret Harte won it, we had two boys in it, Lucas Pitassi was fifth in 14:56, Scott Backovich was 13th in 16:13," Heflin said.

Top finisher for the sophomore girls was Monica Haarberg, taking 17th overall with a time of 19:18. Melissa Goff placed 21st in 19:43 and Jessica Franklin was 24th in 20:19.

"Our varsity boys took first place with 41 points," Heflin said. "Bret Harte was second with 50, Ripon was third with 69."

Rounding out the top five were Livingston with 77 points and Summerville with 112.

"Marc Backovich won it in 16:42," Heflin said of the top varsity runner on the 3.1-mile course.

Escalon's other runner breaking into the top 10 was Vance Waldeck, 10th place in 18:11. Shane Brookshire was 11th in 18:12, followed by Sam Goulet, 15th, 19:05; Andy Schmidt, 18th, 19:42; Ryan Sughrue, 22nd, 20:12; Derek Woodmansee, 26th, 20:51.

"Our varsity girls were also first, with 32 points," said Heflin.

That score had them far outdistancing second place Bret Harte, which came in with 65 points. Third went to Hughson, 70; Waterford, fourth, 79; Summerville, fifth, 94; Linden, sixth, 160.

"Amanda Moreno set a course record, running it in 19:14, the old record was 19:20," noted Heflin.

That effort gave the Morenos both course records, older brother Vic Moreno holding the 15:01 record for the varsity boys on the course, Amanda now owning the girls record.

Two more Escalon girls finished in the top 10 at the varsity level with freshmen Mckenzie Brown, eighth, 23:03 and Annelyse Delucchi, ninth, 23:04, finishing neck and neck. Aprille Ray was 12th in 23:26, Marie Beard placed 17th overall in 23:12 and Sam Metzler was 32nd in 26:14.

For the JV boys, Giovanni Rojas was Escalon's lone runner, finishing 22nd in 27:51. On the JV girls side, Sarah Quiroz was 10th in 23:51, Lauren Brown 16th in 25:29 and Sophia Vasquez 21st in 27:24.

Heflin said he was pleased with the meet, though Riverbank was a no-show.

"This was on their schedule but they didn't show up," he said. "I know Bret Harte did not run everybody and Hughson didn't run all their varsity boys."

Still, the Cougars had some solid performances in the big invitational and will continue working toward the goal of a league championship at the varsity level.

Schools participating included host Escalon, Hughson, Bret Harte, Linden, Ripon, Livingston, Patterson, Hilmar, Summerville, Waterford, Elliot Christian and Vacaville Christian.

The Escalon runners participated in training at Bear River Reservoir over the weekend and will get back into league competition Wednesday, Oct. 13.

"We'll be going to Modesto Reservoir to run against Hughson," said Heflin.

They will also travel to the Rough and Ready Invitational in Fresno on Saturday, Oct. 16.