Members of the Escalon cross country team were busy with two meets this past week.
They kicked off the season with the annual ‘Purple & Gold Race’ which is a 2.25 mile course that starts on the Escalon High School campus and loops around the nearby orchards and Dent Elementary School.
“This intrasquad practice meet is used to help new runners get a feel for what a race is like and help returners remember their race-day routines,” explained coach Michael Bower.
The top finishers were sophomore Andrew Morales (15:04) and freshman Katherine Romero (17:37). The winning team was composed of Ben Millard, Jake Sawyer, Angel Romero, Megan Fahey, Belen Lechuga, and Ainsley Salazar.
The team then traveled to Rocklin on Saturday, Aug. 21 to participate in the Sierra Invitational, a 2-mile course on rolling hills in an old oak forest. While there were concerns of smoke all week, the air cleared enough and provided a great racing atmosphere.
“Every athlete ran a faster mile pace on Saturday compared to their Purple & Gold race. Even though the course was a bit shorter, when you add in the hills, it is clear that athletes are learning in practice about how they can improve and show up to do their best on race day,” said Bower.
The Cougars were again paced by Andrew Morales (13:22) and Katherine Romero (14:56). Also turning in exceptional performances were Ben Millard (13:54), Laura Thompson (15:37), Hannah Wampler (16:44), Jacob Beneux (17:06), and Emma Berchtold (17:59).
“I could easily give accolades to every one of our runners. But I think the best comment came when the coach from the host school complimented our team saying he was impressed how all of our athletes, even those in the back, pushed to do their best,” Bower noted. “Another coach gave thanks to one of our athletes who helped another runner keep going when they had some difficulty breathing. And, yet another, complimented the fact that our team cheers loud and cheers for everyone.”
The Rocklin Invitational was a ‘pick up’ event, added to the schedule in place of the Lodi Flame event, which was canceled.
“To go to a new invitational for our school, and have other coaches recognize the character of our athletes is incredible,” said Bower. “I cannot begin to describe how proud I am to coach this team and help these athletes become their best self, both on and off the course.”
The Cougars are scheduled to travel to Frogtown (Angels Camp) on Thursday, Aug. 26 to race at the Mother Lode League practice meet and will have their first league meet on Wednesday, Sept. 1.