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Invitational, Hill Runs Highlight Cross Country Activity
Leading the way for the freshman boys, winning their division at the Escalon Invitational, was Gabe Romero, who has been a consistent performer for the Cougars this season.Times Photos By Marg Jackson

An invitational and a tough training weekend were on the schedule this week for Escalon’s cross country runners.

“The Escalon Invite, what a day,” noted head coach Rick Heflin of the Wednesday event at Woodward Reservoir. “Due to other usages, the normal course was not available so just a few hours before the race a new course was created and chalked. The problem was that a car speedometer is not as accurate as a runner’s wheel. So the course was a little long. “

The frosh/soph teams ran 2.3 instead of 2 miles and varsity ran 3.75 instead of 3.1.

“I felt bad about the situation but actually the athletes stepped up and ran times that they were really proud of,” Heflin said. “No one knew at the start that the course was that long. They just ran it fast. The course covered three different parts of the lake and most athletes were just having fun flying over the small hills and racing around the many turns.”

This year the Escalon Invite saw teams from North Tahoe and Elk Grove as well as some prominent locals. Escalon posted some very nice performances, said the coach.

Escalon’s freshman boys won the race behind the race winner Gabe Romero. Second was Emiliano Ramirez and fourth was Juan Lopez. Sophomore boys also took home the top honors with the powerhouse performance of Xavier Chavez, Ben Fletcher and Zach Pickett.

“Varsity boys placed second behind Pleasant Grove out of Elk Grove. Eddy Calderon in fifth place led the group followed by Zack Gardner and Rex Robbins,” Heflin said. “The varsity girls placed second behind the strong running of Yajaira Salinas, Nora Nash, and Jackie Lau.”

This past weekend the cross country team went to Bear River campground on Highway 88 just below Silver Lake.

“At about 6,000 elevation, the team trained over the weekend. The team would like to thank all of the community members that donated for our jog-a-thon,” Heflin said. “The jog-a-thon made it possible for us to buy food and pay for the campgrounds on this trip. We would also like to thank all of the parents that drove the team up to the campground and brought us back.”

On Saturday morning the team did an hour of hill-specific training to prepare them for the afternoon run.

“In the afternoon we meet at the base of a hill and run three miles up the hill, about 800 feet in elevation,” explained Heflin. “The new runners then finish the run for 6.1 miles. The older runners and the crazy new runners then finish the longer run for 9.3 miles. No cross country course in our state is a solid long hill or has an altitude change that great.”

The point of the exercise, the coach said, is to desensitize the runners about hills.

“Escalon is known for being a tough hill running team even though we run in Escalon where it is flat,” said Heflin. “If we can train the brain, the body will follow. Everyone that came on the trip worked very hard and made the hill easily. Our seniors provided great leadership and I think the lessons passed on to the younger runners will be exciting for the rest of the season.

“I am very excited about the direction of the team right now. Thank you again to our community for supporting us.”