Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Liberty senior Sophia Napier led all Hawks’ runners wih an 88th place finish at the Div. V CIF State championship race Saturday at Woodward Park.
Former wrestler-turned-cross country runner Ryan Avila was the top finisher for the Liberty Hawks boys cross country team in the Div. V boys race at the CIF Cross Country State Championships on Saturday.
Avila finished in 111th place with a time of 17:33.3.
“I feel like I could have done better. But it was a great race overall, great atmosphere,” Avila said. “It was great to be with my whole team here. Considering it was a super fast race and very different from what we’re used to, we all performed very well.”
Freshman Dylan Devine was the next closest Liberty runner, finishing in 133rd place with a time of 17:48.0.
“I got off pretty fast, but I maintained my pace and I had [Michael Rivera], the third fastest guy on our team, keep pushing me throughout the race,” Devine said. “The atmosphere here was crazy. I’m only a freshman, so this is a great experience for me.”
Devine said he looks forward to coming back to the state meet in the coming years with more experience.
“I love this,” he said. “It’s all about the miles you put in.”
Michael Rivera came in 150th place, setting a personal record with a time of 18:00.3.
“Our team has been working hard,” he said. “First time our team got to state in 14 years, so it was a great accomplishment for us.”
Eduardo Gonzalez finished in 173rd place with a time of 18:40.7. The freshman said it was also a valuable experience for him.
“I didn’t know there was going be this many people,” he said. “My teammates have been pushing me to get better and PR and I hope to do this more.”
Israel Rivera, another freshman, finished in 175th place with a time of 18:42.9.
“What I like about being here is that you can practice on the hills every time you come to Woodward,” Rivera said. “It’s pretty fun.”
Liberty’s other representatives also included Quaid Copher and Gavin Gladders, who finished 190th and 199th respectively.
“I think as a team we did great,” Copher said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my team.”
In the girls Div. V race, Sophia Napier was the top finisher for Liberty, placing 88th with a time of 21:02.2. Rebecca Loquaci finished 179th, Meg Pentorelli came in 186th, Angelina Gastelum was 194th and Madison Bento was 197th.
“I was really happy with the season because last year my times weren’t what I wanted to get, but this year I started improving and understand that running hurts, but I can get through it,” Loquaci said.