Escalon’s cross country team had a unique opportunity this past Wednesday and many Cougars made the most of it.
“We were running on the same course we competed on the previous Saturday,” head coach Rick Heflin explained of taking part in the Mother Lode League Meet at Frogtown. “This gave our runners a chance to change their race strategies and improve on some things. Most people think you just run in cross country but there are a lot of strategies that go on. You can’t win a race in the first 100 yards but you can lose one.”
Heflin added that competitors need to be able to run at a controlled pace they can hold and not leave too much at the end of the race.
“Throw in hills and turns and you have a lot to plan for,” said the coach. “Quite a few of our athletes had huge days and ran personal records. Sixteen people posted faster times even with a few hard days of training. We tend to practice hard before weekday meets and not rest before them, a practice called running through the meet. At the end of the season we plan to be stronger because we didn’t take all those days before meets easy.”
Taking second in the varsity girls race was Briana Briones in a time of 20:35 which was 25 seconds faster than Saturday. The varsity boys placed second as a team with Braiden Vega placing fifth in 18:10.
“A good example of using good race strategy was Emiliano Ramirez. He got off to a very slow start and was trapped behind a large group of slower runners. Instead of using a ton of energy to surge past them, he slowly worked through the pack while continually speeding up,” Heflin explained. “He ended up getting back to the place he should have been with enough left to have a good finish. His time was very similar to Saturdays. Had he tried to catch up in a very short distance, I think the outcome would have been worse. It takes a lot of discipline to be patient in a race. Three miles is a long time to make many poor and good choices. The training we do helps build a lot more than just running pace.”
The Lady Cougar frosh-soph girls also took second place overall with Chloe Hernandez leading the girls in a time of 16:40.
CJ Borrego paced the frosh-soph boys to a second finish with a time of 13:25.
On Thursday, the team gathered for practice and ran its annual jog-a-thon.
“The jog-a-thon was great. Thank you to all the people that sponsored runners. We are very lucky in Escalon because this town supports all sports,” Heflin said. “This week we will face the TVL in our league’s second race. Then we travel up to Bear River on Highway 88 for our training weekend.”