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Runners Shaping Up For Success
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Staying busy as they prepare for Trans-Valley League action, Escalon runners participated in the TVL preseason meet Wednesday at Legion Park in Modesto and hit the road for the Castroville Invitational on Saturday.

At Modesto, the varsity boys were winners, the varsity girls took second in team standings. Escalon topped Riverbank, 32-54, in the boys race, the Lady Cougars were a close second to Riverbank, 26-32.

Marc Backovich turned in a time of 17:57 to win the boys event, Shane Brookshire was third in 19:08 and Andy Schmidt came in sixth, 19:14.

Amanda Moreno took the girls race in 21:34.

"They were good preseason times," said coach Rick Heflin. "We had a hard workout the day before, they went in sore and tired."

Mary Courtright was fifth for Escalon at 24:07, Katie Baroni took sixth in the race, 24:35.

Top finisher in the JV boys race was Thomas Ray, 13:52, third overall, and for the JV girls, Annelyse Delucchi was second overall in 14:04.

Traveling on Saturday, the Cougars ran with 2,000 other athletes in the Division I meet.

"It's huge, there are so many state medallists there," Heflin said. "The freshman boys race had 200 people in it alone."

Boys competed by grade level, freshman, sophomore, junior and senior.

Seniors were paced by Backovich, who medaled with a ninth place finish in 16:37 for the three-mile course.

"He took 1:30 off last year's time," Heflin said.

Derek Woodmansee was the first finisher for Escalon in the junior boys race, 22:12; Lucas Pitassi, first in the sophomore event, 21:53; Thomas Ray was first in the freshman race, 21:17.

Races for the girls were divided into the frosh-soph, varsity and junior division, with the varsity division allowing only the top seven runners from each team. The other varsity runners competed in the junior division.

Moreno hit her stride in the race and took fifth place, improving four places over her finish in last year's event. She ran the course in 19:28 and earned a medal.

Delucchi was the first Escalon runner across the line in the frosh-soph race in 23:15 and the junior girls were led by Sarah Quiroz in 24:39.

Heflin said the run was a good tune-up for his Cougars, who then enjoyed a trip to the beach at nearby Monterey to round out the day.

The team travels to Valley Springs for the Mother Lode League meet Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 3:30 p.m.