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Runners Sweep To Medals At Saturday Invitational
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Escalon track and field participants had a banner day in Pacific Grove on Saturday, coming home from an invitational there with plenty of hardware.

"In the Small School varsity boys, we had 180 points, the second place team was Berean Christian with 156 and third was Pacific Grove with 52," explained coach Rick Heflin. "We had more first places than you can imagine."

Escalon took second place in the Small School varsity girls competition with 85 points, first went to Berean Christian with 176. The JV boys took first with 239 points, far outdistancing second place Pacific Grove, 94. Escalon's JV girls were first with 173 points, Santa Catalina was second with 84.

"We took 120 medals," said Heflin, noting that many of the team members were near or set new personal bests in their events.

While the teams were at Pacific Grove winning medals, Amanda Moreno was at the Meet of Champions in Sacramento, qualifying earlier to compete in the two-mile.

"She decided to flex her muscles," Heflin said of her effort.

Among the other runners in the race was Melanie Lawrence, who has been ranked number two in the nation in cross country the last two years.

"Amanda went out and on the first lap, she hung right with her," he said of the Escalon teen staying with the leader. "On the second lap, they hung together, then Melanie dropped back but Amanda kept her pace."

Moreno was leading most of the way; it was in the final stages that Lawrence was able to run her down and take the race.

"Amanda said she couldn't hear her, couldn't feel her coming, there was so much noise" near the finish line, Heflin said.

Lawrence ran the race in 10:35.2 to finish first; Moreno was at 10:35.89 to take second.

"That puts her in fourth place for the fastest time in the two-mile in California this year and 11th in the nation," Heflin said. "She is within a second of being number one."

Heflin said he was excited about the finish and Moreno was as well, though she believes she could have kicked it in a little more had she been aware that Lawrence was making her move.

"She thinks she could have held her off but she couldn't hear it, couldn't feel it," Heflin said. "But she learned how to race this weekend and she had the race of her life...even the announcer there said that.

"She's back, she's real again."

Moreno is getting into a groove at the right time, with the state meet coming up in a month.

"Last year, that time (10:35.89) would have won the state," Heflin pointed out. "Now she has the 11th fastest time in the nation this year and that's not bad at all...she took off Saturday and ran her race, now she knows she belongs there."

The Cougars as a team will be at Livingston to close out the regular season on Thursday, May 5 and the annual Escalon Rotary Invitational Meet for JV teams will be staged at Engel Field on Friday, May 6 beginning at 1 p.m.