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Runners Attend Sierra Invite, Prepare For Angels Camp Event
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Completing the course at the Sierra Invite in Rocklin in 18:14, Cougar Brenden Berchtold, shown here, improved his time more than 50 seconds per mile compared to the earlier Purple and Gold scrimmage. Photo Courtesy Of Michael Bower

The Escalon Cross Country team kicked off the season with a Purple and Gold Scrimmage on Tuesday. Aug. 16. The 2.25-mile course starts and ends at the track and then loops through the neighborhood and in front of Dent.

The competition saw the Cougar runners divided into groups of seven to race against each other in the scrimmage.

“It is a great opportunity for new runners to start to understand how a cross country meet works and for our returners to practice their race preparation plans,” explained head coach Michael Bower.

It was a close race with four of the five teams finishing within five points of each other, and the top two teams ending in a tie which meant they had to decide the race based on the sixth place finisher as tie-breaker.

This year’s winning team was comprised of Nate Millard (10th), Hannah Wampler (11th), Kali Castellanos (10th), Katelyn Rodriguez (11th), Matix Trimble (9th), and Faith Reyes (11th).

“I was really proud of how our kids did for this scrimmage. We made a last minute adjustment to run in the evening because of the triple digit heat,” Bower noted. “They made the adjustment and came ready to run. You never quite know where everyone is going to be after summer, but they have the right attitudes and are willing to put in the work”

In addition to the winning team, top individual performances were made by junior Jose Calderon (13:41), junior Andrew Morales (13:59), and sophomore Daniel Bagadiong (14:02). The girls were led by sophomore Katherine Romero (16:35), sophomore Lauren Rodriguez (17:45) and senior Megan Fahey (17:46).

“On Saturday, the team traveled to Sierra Invite in Rocklin. This is a grade-level two-mile race and a great way to open our season on a short but challenging course,” said Bower.

The boys were paced by the same trio: Jose Calderon in a time of 12:42, over two minutes faster than his performance last year; Andrew Morales in 12:53, and Daniel Bagadiong ran a 12:58 in his first official cross country race.

For the girls, the Cougars were led by Lauren Rodriguez in 15:02 for her official debut cross country race. After a stellar track season where she focused on the 400 meters, she has taken a liking to running longer distances. Next best times were junior Hannah Wampler in 16:16 (30 seconds faster than last year) and senior Megan Fahey in 16:37.

“In addition to the top times, many runners, especially the younger ones, showed huge improvements from just a few days before,” Bower added. “One of the challenges for new runners is they don’t know how hard they can actually push themselves. You have to be willing to embrace the uncomfortable to perform your best; pushing, but not so hard that you blow up. It takes racing experience to understand exactly what this feels like.”

Big improvements were made by freshman Matix Trimble in 17:53 and Brenden Berchtold in 18:14, who each improved over 50 seconds per mile compared to their Purple and Gold time.

Continuing the trend of strong young runners, freshman Theodore Harp in 16:41 and Madelyn Fahey in 17:02, both improved over 45 seconds per mile.

“I really enjoy watching the younger runners as they realize they are capable of so much more. They often start off a little more timid, but as they get more comfortable they make huge gains,” Bower said. “There is something special about someone of any ability level being able to start a new sport and find success as they improve themselves.”

The team will spend this week training and will race on Tuesday, Aug. 30 on the Frogtown course at the Calaveras Fairgrounds in Angels Camp.

“The season is young, and there are a lot of things we need to work on, but this is shaping up to be a great group of kids,” Bower summarized. “I am excited to get the chance to work with them, and see how far we can take things this season.”