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Cougars Post Solid Times In Salinas Meet
Saturday's Early Bird Invitational in Salinas saw a few notable performances for Escalon runners, helping set the varsity line up for league competition.

"Salinas is a huge meet, mostly Division I schools," explained cross country coach Rick Heflin. "The thing about it is everybody runs the exact same course, but they run by grade level."

With that in mind, Heflin just watches the times of his runners and - regardless of grade level - takes the top seven times from boys and girls to craft his varsity squad.

Top finisher for Escalon on the day was Alec Carpenter, who turned in a personal best of 17:54 on the 3.1-mile course.

"That was a PR for him by about 20 seconds and this is a tough course," Heflin said of his standout sophomore. "My top girl was Adriana Delucchi, she ran a 21:07."

Freshman girls making some noise, recording times that qualified them for Escalon's varsity, were Maggie Casteel and Alana Kualapai.

"They both posted times in the top seven of the team. They will run JV for invitationals, but they will move up to the varsity for league."

The varsity girls will be led by Delucchi, Sierra Lionudakis, Janelle Giuntoli, Alana Kualapai, Sam Cuddy, Maggie Casteel and Jordyn Walden.

Boys varsity squad top seven are Alec Carpenter, Josh Vandagriff, Josh Proch, Logan Stewart, Tanner Roark, Jake Carroll and Stuart Eachus.

"Both of our squads (varsity boys and girls) placed in the middle at Salinas," Heflin said. "Both were in the top 25 and there were about 60 teams there."

In the first Trans-Valley League meet of the season on Wednesday, Sept. 8 at Legion Park in Modesto, the varsity girls nailed a second place finish, finishing just ahead of Hughson and Ripon but behind Riverbank. Delucchi was the top finisher for Escalon, sixth overall in 21:36.

The varsity boys were fourth, with Carpenter taking the top spot for Escalon.

"We're starting out young, we lost a lot to graduation," Heflin said. "But they've improved so much, just over the past couple of weeks."

The team will head to Angels Camp on Saturday for the Bret Harte Invitational.