SONORA – For the first time all year, the six Mother Lode League cross country teams all stood at the same starting line and eyed the same finish line.
For some runners, Wednesday’s race at Sonora’s Wildcat ranch was the first race of their running career. For others, the 3-mile race was nothing more than a walk in the park. But at the end of the day, all six teams are chasing a league championship, and this was the first step in that direction.
In the varsity girls’ division, Bret Harte picked up a victory over Argonaut, Calaveras beat Summerville and Amador topped Sonora. Argonaut, Summerville and Sonora were unable to field full varsity teams. And in the varsity boys’ race, Bret Harte beat Argonaut 15-40, Summerville beat Calaveras 21-35 and Amador beat Sonora, who was also unable to field a full varsity team.
“We had a lot of kids run pretty well today,” Calaveras head coach Doug Avrit said. “The varsity boys ran well, and everybody competed. We have a ways to go, but we are going to keep working and get better and see where we come out at the end.”
The Bret Harte girls’ varsity team are the defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V champions. But before any back-to-back talk starts, head coach Vicky Johnson needs to figure out who of her 14 runners she’ll be leaning on down the stretch.
“At this point of the year, because of the tough start with the hot weather and the smoke and other issues that have come up, it’s really about getting into shape and then we will look at the whole team together,” Johnson said. “We have 14 girls between frosh/soph and varsity and we’ll see who will be our top seven.”
In the varsity boys’ race, Summerville’s Cruz Vasquez and Broen Holman each crossed the finish line in 17:48.40. Coming in third was Bret Harte senior Winter Whittle with his time of 18:28.79. Whittle is fresh off a first-place finish at the Frogtown Invitational and even though he was the first to cross the finish line at Frogtown, he didn’t let that change the way he prepared for Wednesday’s race.
“I kind of just like to reset after each race, good or bad,” Whittle said. “I come up with a game plan that’s not based on the previous race. That makes it easy to not let the good performances get to my head and not let the bad performances get to me too much. I had a good race today that I felt was good for me.”
Finishing close behind Whittle was Calaveras senior Logan Gomes with his fourth-place time of 18:39.85. Gomes knows that the Mother Lode League has very tough competition with Vasquez, Holman and Whittle. However, Gomes looks at his fellow runners not as adversaries, but as friends.
“It’s friendly competition for me,” Gomes said. “I’m friends with everybody who runs these races. If I can catch up to someone then that’s awesome, because then I’m running with a buddy and that’s nice.”
The recent rain that dropped on the Sonora course made the meet much more enjoyable for Gomes, as the lack of dust was a welcomed treat.
“It was so much nicer, and it was so soft and squishy,” Gomes said about the course at Wildcat Ranch. “The dust can get in your lungs, in your eyes and in your nose and it’s hard to breathe and hard to see. Dust isn’t a good thing, so it was a very good course today.”
When asked about Gomes, Avrit said, “Logan has really improved in a lot of areas. He’s taken on a leadership role pretty seriously because he’s a senior and he’s the leader of our team. He’s really done well.”
Bret Harte did not have any runners in the boys’ frosh/soph race, as Johnson invited all of her younger runners to compete at the varsity level.
“We moved our frosh/soph boys up to varsity and we had a little conference with them yesterday and we agreed that they’d give it their best shot for three miles, and they did exactly that,” Johnson said. “It’s a big team building experience for them.”
Other times in the varsity boys’ race were: Bret Harte’s Brody Burita (No. 6, 19:18.01); Calaveras’ Ethan Lynn (No. 9, 19:51.89); Bret Harte’s Peyton Heermance (No. 11, 20:25.39); Calaveras’ Tyler Davidson (No. 17, 20:57.99); Bret Harte’s Jack Lenihan (No. 18, 21:17.87); Calaveras’ Zack Zablosky (No. 20, 21:49.24); Joshua Schuler (No. 22, 22:29.07); Bret Harte’s Jace McLaughlin (22:41.82); Bret Harte’s Robert Carrillo-Wright (No. 25, 22:48.31); Bret Harte’s David Willey (No. 26, 22:54.22); Calaveras’ Jared Chavez (No. 33, 27:30.86); Calaveras’ Ethan Haro (No. 34, 28:05.32); and Calaveras’ Darby Dagenais (No. 36, 28:14.17).
Wednesday’s race was another positive moment for Bret Harte senior Kadyn Rolleri. After breaking her leg in January, Rolleri has only competed in two races, which includes the race at Wildcat Ranch. Rolleri placed fifth overall in the varsity girls’ race with her time of 22:10.09. Rolleri knows that her journey back to where she was before the injury will have its bumps along the way, but she looks at every race as a chance to improve and to get back to the runner she once was.
“Today was actually really tough,” Rolleri said. “I was on that second mile, and it got really painful, and I knew that it was going to bring my time down compared to what I’m used to seeing. This will just mentally push me through and motivate me for the next meet.”
The first Bullfrog to cross the finish line in the varsity girls’ race was Bret Harte junior Addy Heermance. The only runners to finish ahead of Heermance’s time of 21:19.16 was Summerville’s first-place winner Arianna Martinez (21:08.55) and Argonaut’s Maeve Klement (21:14.79).
“I felt pretty good coming out here,” Heermance said. “I did OK at Frogtown, and I haven’t run too much at the preseason meets, but I felt good today. I like this course and I’m excited about this season.”
Running in her very first cross country race was Calaveras senior Bailie Clark. Typically, in the fall, Clark is inside of Mike Flock Gym as a member of Calaveras’ volleyball team. But a broken arm suffered in summer softball put Clark on the sidelines and unable to play. However, Clark wasn’t OK with just sitting around waiting for her arm to heel. A few weeks ago, the multi-sport star traded her knee pads for running shoes and is still in the process of trying to figure out how to become a distance runner.
“I’ve been very impressed by the work she's done and by going out there and doing something that’s totally foreign to her,” Avrit said. “She’s going through the period right now where the first two or three weeks can be pretty tough. You’re running every day and it takes a while before you start having those little breakthroughs. Right now, it’s like you’re pulling a train and it’s tough. I’ve been very impressed with her attitude and her work ethic, and she stepped in just like she’s part of the team.”
In her very first race, Clark finished in 28:55.38, which put her 25th overall. When asked about the race, Clark said, “The first two miles were good, but the last mile kicked my butt. It was hard, but come on, it’s a race; you have to push yourself.”
Other times in the varsity girls’ race were: Bret Harte’s Aurora Lewis (No. 9, 23:31.14); Bret Harte’s Skylar Mayers (No. 12, 23:59.98); Calaveras’ Makayla Turner (No. 13, 24:12.07); Calaveras’ Daisy Garcia (No. 15, 24:18.85); Bret Harte’s Morgan Greene (No. 22, 27:07.51); Calaveras’ Wessin Snipes (No. 23, 27:09.47); Clark (No. 25, 28.03.95); Calaveras’ Perrin Horn (No. 26, 28:55.38); Bret Harte’s Nina Hollars (No. 28, 30.08.79); Bret Harte’s Talisa Perez (No. 29, 30:36.99); and Calaveras’ Kaidyn Thornburg (No. 33,33.01.67).
The next Mother Lode League meet won’t take place until Oct. 5 in Jackson.