By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cross Country Runners Post Strong Times At TVL Finals
CC sr 11-3
Following the conclusion of the TVL final meet on Oct. 27, Escalon senior cross country runners were recognized for their contributions to the team during their high school careers. From left, Grady Fugett, Ben Millard, Jill Junquiero, Mariana Perlata (front), Casey Vassalo (back), Ainsley Salazar (front), Alexis White, Isabel Marcelo, Belen Lechuga-Soto, Aron Gomez. Photo Contributed

This past Wednesday, Escalon Cross Country runners returned to Jacob Myers Park to compete at TVL League Finals.

The day started off with the JV girls race which had an incredibly strong showing. The six girls collectively shaved off over three minutes from their mid-season TVL time, to take first place as a team at the Oct. 27 event. Rounding out the scoring five were freshman Victoria Rich (14:16, 2nd overall), sophomore Hannah Wampler (14:47, 3rd overall), freshman Emma Berchtold (15:38, 7th overall), freshman Kali Castellanos (15:41, 8th overall), and sophomore Destiny Reyes (15:46, 10th overall).

“It’s been fun to watch this girls team develop throughout the season. They have a great attitude and have been consistently improving,” said head coach Michael Bower. “Running was a new sport to just about all of them, so they still have a lot they can learn, and the sky’s the limit on their potential.”

Their teammates in the girls varsity race finished as the third team, behind Ripon and Hughson. The effort was solid, especially with freshman Katherine Romero (21:36, 9th overall) and junior Megan Fahey (24:26, 14th overall) both setting personal bests on a short week following the Mt. Sac Invitational the weekend prior. A strong performance was also posted by senior Mariana Peralta (26:49), her first time under 27 minutes this season.

“Just about every JV boy set a personal record on Wednesday to bring home a third place team finish, again behind Ripon and Hughson,” noted Bower.

Freshman Nate Millard led the Cougars with his fourth place overall finish in 12:21, followed by an aggressive run by sophomore Jose Calderon (12:48). The team then finished as a pack with the next four crossing the finish line in a five-second window: sophomore Marcos Grajeda (13:10), freshman Angel Romero (13:12), freshman Calan Crumbley (13:14) and sophomore Julian Gonzalez (13:15).

“Any time you can see a group of your runners come in together it’s fun to watch. When you have a group that can run together, you can start to train at another level, using each other’s good days to make bigger progress and cultivate some inner-team rivalries,” Bower said. “It’ll be fun to watch as these runners can tap into that for their upcoming races.”

Finally, in the boys varsity race, Escalon didn’t quite have the top end speed to compete with the other schools, placing sixth as a team.

“However, it cannot be denied that our boys showed the grit and determination to have a good day. A common theme in the other races, just about every runner had a personal best performance,” added Bower.

Sophomore Andrew Morales finished 16th overall, shaving 46 seconds off his best 5k time to run 19:09. Junior Cadon Crumbley shaved almost two minutes to finish in 22:07, and seniors Grady Fugett (22:14) and Aron Gomez (23:28) both finished their TVL racing career with personal records.

“I’ve said it from the beginning of the season, but I’ll continue to say it: I am incredibly proud of this team. They bring an energy, excitement, and humor that has made coaching an absolute joy. I am proud of the progress and growth each runner has made, both in the sport of running as well as the life lessons learned along the way,” said Bower.

At the conclusion of the races, in addition to passing out team and individual medals, coaches also honored all of the seniors in the league.

“It’s a small gesture, but I feel it is invaluable to recognize the runners that are completing a chapter. A chapter, some of them have been investing in for four years. We had two four-year seniors: Jill Junquiero and Belen Lechuga-Soto. They have each had their own challenges in life, but they have continued to rise to the occasion to better themselves and their team,” Bower explained.

Next up, the Cougars head to the Calaveras Fairgrounds on Saturday, Nov. 6, to compete at the Sac Joaquin Subsection Meet. Athletes who perform well enough will qualify to compete at the Section meet.

JVG cc 11-3
Escalon’s JV girls cross country team captured first place honors at the TVL final meet at Jacob Myers Park on Oct. 27. From left, sophomore Kaleia Jones, freshman Emma Berchtold, freshman Kali Jones, sophomore Hannah Wampler, freshman Victoria Rich. Not pictured, sophomore Destiny Reyes. Photo Contributed