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Runners Show Well In Lodi Invitational
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Though numbers are down from past years, the intensity is high and the team is ready to go.

Escalon's cross country runners had their first outing on Wednesday, Sept. 2 with a trip to Lodi Lake for a competition, facing off with a number of Division I schools.

"It's very positive, a lot of fun, good work ethic," coach Rick Heflin said of this year's runners.

The varsity boys came away with a seventh place overall finish and were paced by the sixth place individual effort of Matt Barnum, running the 3.1-mile course in 16:40. Clancy Casteel was next for Escalon in 17:37, following by Philip Plott at 18:05.

"Obviously those kids did a lot of summer work," Heflin said of the top trio.

Donovan Gardner and Landon Gonzales rounded out the Cougars' top five.

Escalon, rated second in the Section in preseason rankings behind Bret Harte, had a better finish than the Bullfrogs at Lodi, with Bret Harte taking 10th.

In the sophomore race, Josh Vandagriff medaled for Escalon with a fifth place finish, 10:41 for the 2-mile course. Josh Proch was 21st in 11:33 and Alec Carpenter took second in the freshman race in 10:36.

"The girls were 10th overall and Pearl Rivers was fourth in 19:27," Heflin said, noting that was a faster time than she posted last year at the end of the season.

Khrista Delucchi, though battling illness, came up with a showing of 23:47.

Janelle Giuntoli ran the sophomore race and covered the 2-mile course in 13:55, good enough for a medal.

At the freshman level, Adrianna Delucchi was third overall at 12:57, Jordyn Walden 14th in 14:20 and Natalie Calderon and Sierra Lionudakis also running under the 16:30 mark.

"It's definitely a good group," Heflin said. "Overall we did well."

The Cougars will be in action this week, running against other teams in the Trans-Valley League in the first TVL meet, at Legion Park in Modesto today, Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 3:30 p.m.