FOLSOM – Garrett Hesser had no clue if he would qualify for the CIF State Championship meet or not. He just kept running.
Hesser knew he was trailing two runners from Sonora, two from St. Mary’s and one from Christian Brothers. He didn’t know if this would be the final race in his Calaveras cross country career. So, he just kept running.
Once Hesser crossed the finish line, he learned of his fate. Hesser won’t be hanging up his running shoes just yet, as the Calaveras senior qualified for the state championship following his strong performance at the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship meet Saturday at Willow Hills Reservoir in Folsom.
“It was a pretty stressful experience coming across the line and watching five guys ahead of me and having a very unknown future,” Hesser said. “I didn’t know if all of those guys were individuals or part of a team. Luckily one of them was part of a team and I was very relieved.”
As a team, Placer finished first (73), followed by El Dorado (84), Christian Brothers (98), St. Mary’s (118), Colfax (123), Hughson (126), Sonora (182), Union Mine (199), Liberty Ranch (213) and Ripon (228).
Hesser was the only Calaveras runner in the division IV race. As he stood at the starting line, there were no other Calaveras runners and for some, running alone is an added pressure. But Calaveras head coach Doug Avrit had zero concerns about Hesser being the lone Calaveras male runner Saturday afternoon.
“He can handle that,” Avrit said. “It’s not like he was lost being the only Calaveras runner out there and he did a good job handling that. Although when you are at the starting line at the box and you are the only one there, it is a different feeling instead of lining up with your teammates. But as far as his approach and getting himself ready, I think he did a really good job with that.”
The Sonora duo of Adin Dibble and Broen Holman placed first and second, yet each finished with the time of 15:41.2. St. Mary’s Daniel Winter placed third (16:00.9), followed by teammate Elijah Sulivan (16:09.3) and Christian Brothers Ryan Dong (16:17.0). Hesser, who was running with a calf injury, punched his ticket to the state meet with his time of 16:21.1.
“I’ve got another two weeks and hopefully I run fast at state,” Hesser said.
The competition in the division IV race was perhaps as tough as ever. When Hesser ran the same course at the section meet during his sophomore season, he finished in 18:06.7. Hesser’s senior time of 16:21.1 would have had him finishing third in 2019, only behind the first-place winner (16:13.6) and former Calaveras runner Jacob Christopher’s time of 16:18.6.
“Coming into today, I just wanted him to run well and to be able to see him get that reward for his hard work,” Avrit said. “It was a really fast race, which actually makes it difficult. With those guys running like they did and you’re going out with them, you’re probably not running your best race because you’re going out too fast for yourself which can hurt you in the end. He ran tough, he ran solid and ran much faster than he did here two years ago and that just shows his improvement.”
For the second time in Hesser’s cross country career, he’ll have the opportunity to race at the state meet. However, when he went to Fresno as a sophomore, he was part of a section championship team. Now, he’ll go all by himself. And while he’ll once again be the only Calaveras runner in the race, Hesser won’t let that slow him down.
“It’s going to be a very interesting dynamic,” Hesser said. “Almost every time I’ve gone down and ran that course, there’s been a big team atmosphere and that’s been the focus. So going down as the only Calaveras person in general racing will be a very interesting thing. Hopefully there’ll be quite a few kids down there along with my brother and family for support.”
Calaveras girls’ runners finish 7th at sections
The cross country season ended on Saturday for the Calaveras girls’ cross country team. With a seventh-place finish and no individual runners qualifying for the state meet, Calaveras is done running until the summer of 2022.
“I’m grateful that we did as well as we did,” Calaveras senior Lexy Beadles said. “We weren’t expecting to advance to state, but we still performed well today.”
Placer placed first overall (52), followed by Colfax (75), Christian Brothers (93), El Dorado (110), Ripon (114), Union Mine (149), Calaveras (158), Amador (176), Hughson (204) and Woodland (221).
Woodland’s Mahalia Quintana finished first overall (18:40.9), followed by El Dorado’s Chloe Gautschi (19:10.8) and Colfax’s Jade Bittner (19:22.8). Beadles was the first Calaveras runner to finish and her time was 21:18.2.
“This wasn’t my first time on the course, so I knew the course was going to suck,” Beadles said. “It was painful. It’s a tough course and coming off of it was very painful. I just had to sit down and stay down for a while.”
Other Calaveras times were: Emma Alliende (No. 28, 22:04.1); Sage Miller (No. 37, 22:26.4); Bridgette Boriolo (No. 51, 23:49.2); Rosalind Acevedo (No. 52, 23:52.7); Peyton Curran (No. 61, 25:15.5); and Grace Damin (No. 67, 25:52.9). Beadles, Alliende, Miller, Boriolo, Acevedo and Curran are all senior runners.
“They all ran well,” Avrit said about his girls’ team. “They almost got sixth. Our goal was to see how high we could get as a team. I’m just proud of the fact that they all came in and ran well. They executed a good race, ran tough and ran well. You can’t ask for more than that.”