Heading out on the road, several members of the Escalon Cross Country team competed in the Section Race at Willow Hills Reservoir in Folsom on Saturday, Nov. 13.
The thick fog cleared by mid-morning and led to a great day of racing, according to head coach Michael Bower.
The freshman boys kicked things off by taking second place as a team. This time leading the team was Daniel Bagadiong (14:04, 7th overall) and Nate Millard (14:26, 10th overall). Rounding out the scoring were Calan Crumbley (14:32, 13th overall), Angel Romero (15:26, 21st overall) and Jake Sawyer (16:46, 30th overall).
“In addition to being a very technical course with turns, hills, and uneven ground, the Willow Hills Course is 3300 meters, a bit longer than their usual two- mile course,” explained Bower.
The frosh/soph girls finished fourth as a team. Victoria Rich (16:14, 15th overall) crossed the line for Escalon first, followed by Hannah Wampler (17:16, 27th overall), Kali Castellanos (17:37, 30th overall), Destiny Reyes (17:53, 32nd overall), Emma Berchtold (18:41, 36th overall), and sixth for the team was Kaleai Jones (22:03, 44th overall).
“The sophomore boys were down a runner and so unfortunately did not earn a team score. That being said, they had some great times among them,” Bower noted.
Julian Gonzalez broke out for a huge run finishing 20 seconds faster than his subsection time, coming in at 13:41, 21st overall. He was followed by Marcos Grajeda (14:04, 30th overall), Jose Calderon (14:06, 31st overall), and Joseph Corrales (20:26, 42nd overall). Converting Joseph’s time to a two- mile, this would be his first time officially running sub-20 minutes, a huge accomplishment.
Following the freshman and sophomore teams Escalon had two individual girls earn their spot to race. In the varsity race, true freshman Katherine Romero finished 25th overall, same place as subsections, and ran an impressive 21:50. The time was only 14 seconds off her personal record for a 5k which was run at TVL finals, an obviously easier course.
The JV girls race was combined with all divisions 1-5 running at the same time. Senior Jillian Junquiero finished 44th overall, but gained one spot to finish 12th among D3-5 runners; the group she qualified with the previous week at Frogtown. She finished her 5000 meter race in 28:55, setting a season best for the distance, and finishing her high school career with a stellar performance.
“There’s a lot to celebrate,” Bower summarized following the competition on Saturday. “It’s been a long season, and many of them are getting excited about the next sport or activity; but today they showed that they can show up and perform well. We brought all of our tools in order to have a good day, and that is what we did.”
Out of the 18 runners that competed on Nov. 13, a dozen of them had run the course at the invite earlier this season. Just those 12 runners, shaved over 20 minutes off their previous race times. The frosh/soph girls team, of which all six raced at the invitational shaved off an astounding combined time of 10 minutes and 18 seconds.
“It was special to bring so many kids to sections. I hope they recognize the value of their hard work, and the opportunity to improve and set big goals for themselves. For all of the younger runners to make it, I hope they have a hunger to come back,” Bower added. “As always, I am proud to work with each and every one of these students, and I find it fitting to end the season with one of the tag lines we started from the beginning: On good, one learned. Always find the opportunity to find the good, and always strive to be better tomorrow than you were today.”