Running to a championship

Cross-Country Section Finals
By: Nick Pecoraro
-A +A

FOLSOM– The Placer boys cross-country team won its 10th championship in school history at Saturday’s CIF Sac-Joaquin Section final in Folsom, tying it with Riverbank for the fourth most in the Sac-Joaquin history. It was the second straight title for the Hillmen at the D-IV level.

“They raced strong from start to finish and are looking forward to the battle that awaits at State,” said Placer head coach Kevin Vasquez. “This is one of our strongest boys teams… One more week to get ready to achieve our ultimate goal.”

Senior Jesus Guerra-Reyes was the D-IV individual champion at 16 minutes, 8.3 seconds. Connor Ryan, Jesus Carrasco, Devin Muzzy and Brendan Moley all finished within the top 20.

Christian Brothers and Calaveras were the other D-IV teams to advance to the state meet.

The Placer girls team missed out on advancing to the state meet by just 16 points. Only the top two teams from D-IV move on.

Placer’s Riley Lasher, who finished ninth at 21:02.1, and Colfax’s Sierra Hagen, who placed 10th at 21:05.5, each qualify as individuals for the Nov. 24 championship meet.

“She’s had this goal all season long and it was great to see it come to fruition today,” said Vasquez of Lasher. “Now we get ready to focus our attention on the state championships. The competition is fierce at this level, but we will definitely be prepared. I am excited to see how it all unfolds.”

Colfax finished behind Placer in the standings with 111 points.


Division III

Del Oro freshman Riley Chamberlain won her 10th race in 11 tries this season, this time to be crowned as the D-III Section Champion. Chamberlain checked in at 17:57.0, more than a full minute faster than runner-up Quinn Hagerman of Merced.

“It was good,” said Chamberlain, who was named the Sierra Foothill League MVP. “I’m looking forward to state with my team, being on the line with them.”

Chamberlain was one of the only Del Oro runners to have run at Woodward Park this season, the site of the state championships Nov. 24.

“I think Riley is favored to win state,” said Del Oro coach Dustin Fee. “With what Riley just did, there’s a possibility of her running a sub-17 down at Clovis this time around.”

With the race itself in question due to the poor air quality from the Camp Fire, all runners had to keep a ready-to-go mind frame.

“We were just trying to emphasize that we were going to be racing no matter what,” said Fee. “If you go in with a mindset of ‘what if’, you’re not going to do well. It’s the team that shows up with its head on its shoulders that’s going to do well.”

Del Oro as a team finished second behind Vista del Lago, who captured its sixth section title by just 11 points. Del Oro’s Hannah Wirth and Emilie Mertz also finished inside the top 10.

Nevada Union was the third girls team from D-III to qualify for state.

Nevada Union’s Garrett Gough successfully defended his D-III individual title, beating out Del Oro’s Brayden McLaughlin by 37 seconds in the varsity boys race.

Nevada Union won its sixth overall section boys title and its first at the D-III level.

Del Oro placed fourth overall, missing out on qualifying as a team for the state championship race by one point behind Merced, but McLaughlin – the SFL boys MVP and recent Chico State-commit – and Bryan Stafford (17:15.0) each individually qualified.

“There were a lot of tears on guys’ side,” said Fee. “They wanted to make it as team.”

Vista del Lago finished second as a team and will move on.


Division V

Forest Lake Christian junior Amber Jackson dethroned two-time defending champion Sara Sabra of Western Sierra Collegiate Academy to win the D-V individual crown at 19:21.9. The win was Jackson’s fourth of the season as she gains momentum into the Nov. 24 state championship meet.

Western Sierra, however, won the team race with Sabra, Rhiannon Repetti and Hayley Repetti, Cassidy Call and Deanna Trieu all finishing inside the top 15, giving the Wolves the first cross-country section championship in school history.

Runner-up Foresthill also qualified for the state meet as a team, scoring 76 points behind Elizabeth Bradley (22:10.7), who placed sixth, and Lily Watkins (23:00.4), who finished ninth.