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Runners Power Through Wind, Rain At Woodward
Results were hard to come by - as runners literally came pouring in, name tags smeared by the rainfall - but Escalon cross country coach Rick Heflin said Wednesday's event at Woodward Reservoir was a good one for his squad.

"The first annual Escalon Cross Country Invitational/Swim Meet went fine," he said, chuckling. "The kids ran real well but eventually it became treacherous."

With a full slate of races, taking off roughly 20 minutes apart from 3:30 p.m. on, only the first race of the day started without rain falling. The second race saw the start of the rain, with runners and spectators pretty much pelted all afternoon.

"The last race of the day, our JV race, is usually three miles but because of the bad footing by that time, we cut it down to two," Heflin said.

Schools ranging from Ceres to Bret Harte, Patterson to Ripon joined in the run.

"The kids were fine with the rain," Heflin pointed out. "It was when the wind kicked up, they were running into the wind, that added to their times and it was cold."

A highlight of the day for the Cougars was the top three varsity girls, Sierra Lionudakis, Janelle Giuntoli and Adriana Delucchi, all finishing in the top 20.

"They did a real nice job," Heflin said.

For the varsity boys, Josh Vandagriff again led the way, Escalon's first across the line, followed quickly by Nathan Conner and Ian Eachus, with Robin Gearey a close fourth for the Cougar boys.

"The course was getting pretty slick by then," said Heflin.

In the JV girls race, Cassie Kennedy was second overall and the freshman girls, as a team, placed second, finishing only behind Ceres. Heflin said that's where the team aspect comes in, as Escalon's final runner across the line secured the second place showing for the girls.

Jackie Velazquez and Jackie Valeriano were top finishers for the freshman girls, with Erick Martinez showing well in the sophomore boys race.

"Thank you to Stanislaus County Parks and Rec for letting us hold the race at Woodward," Heflin said, noting the venue has served as the setting for the Escalon Invitational for years.

This week, the team will have practices and some of the runners will head to the Folsom Invitational on Saturday, getting a chance to run on the Section course.