Escalon’s cross country team traveled to Walnut, California, near Pasadena last Friday, Oct. 25. The Mt Sac cross country invite is one of the oldest and largest high school races in the country. This was its 72nd year and on Friday runners from Divisions 3, 4, and 5 competed. On Saturday Divisions 1 and 2 competed.
“There were 45 races on Friday. It is an amazing experience to just go and compete,” said coach Rick Heflin. “Since there are so many races and several races are on the course at one time, there is a time limit runners must meet or they are stopped on the course. This is the reason we have qualifying times to take people down to the race. I want to make sure all runners get to compete and complete the race.”
Heflin said all of the Cougar runners made it easily this year.
“The course is very hilly and challenging. There is a reason that each section has a name and the names are the switchbacks, poop out hill, and reservoir hill. The course is basically a flat 800 meters then three challenging hills,” added Heflin.
The boys team placed seventh in their race.
Gabe Romero led the team with a season PR of 17:39, followed by Juan Lopez with a season and course PR of 17:48, Braiden Vega was next at 17:56, Emi Ramirez 18:56, CJ Borrego 19:37, and Alex Calderon 19:42.
“Gabe, Juan, and Braiden were in the top 25 of the race,” Heflin said.
For the girls team, Briana Briones-Chavarria placed fifth overall with a time of 20:08 followed by Carla Cordova 27:06 and Alejandra Jimenez-Garcia 27:33.
“We are hoping next year with summer training and more focus that we can take a full girls and boys team to the meet,” noted the coach.
Next up is the final Trans-Valley League meet of the season, set for Wednesday, Oct. 30 in Modesto.
“The meet should be really exciting this year. It is also the whole league’s ‘Senior Night.’ Since we don’t have dual meets like most sports, we decided to do a Senior Night for all seniors in the league on the league final meet,” Heflin explained. “Every school brings something and honors all seniors, not just the one from their school. The seniors get to take home a small gift from all teams to recognize their commitment to the sport.”