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Cross country teams run at CIF State Meet


Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune

The Matilda Torres Toros boys cross country team begins the Div. IV CIF State Championship race Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno. They finished in sixth place.

 

FRESNO — The dream of many athletes that begin their journey running miles and miles each day for the cross country season is the CIF State Cross Country Championships at Woodward Park.


The 35th annual event is probably the largest cross country race in the state and is one of the most competitive in the nation.


Just to be able to compete in the CIF State meet, a team must place in the top two or three in their section. Or an individual must place in the top 12 or 14 in their division, and be among the first five individuals not on a state placing team to get the opportunity to run.


Traditionally, Madera has had a healthy representation at the State Meet and Saturday’s event was exception. Fifteen runners represented three Madera schools competed among the more than 1,800 runners throughout the 10-race schedule at Fresno’s Woodward Park.


Division IV Central Section Champions Matilda Torres placed sixth overall while Div. I runner-up Madera South placed 10th while dealing with illness. Madera senior Bianca Scott, who placed fourth in Div. II in the Central Section championships, was all smiles coming in 82nd place.


Matilda Torres Toros


With six of his top seven runners returning next year, it’s easy for Matilda Torres head coach Jose Herrera to be thinking of next year with all the experience his team received in this year’s race.


The Toros edged out Scotts Valley by two points to place sixth.


“Everybody did well,” Herrera, a multiple-year participant in the State meet, said. “We came off Valley winning it and we only have one person leaving. Most of the team will be coming back.”


The Toros jumped out with the lead group in the first mile, and was fourth overall with Benjamin Fernandez leading the team in 17th place.


However, the pace of the race got to the Toros and they fell to fifth at the second mile and sixth overall.


“They were just going with the race in the first mile and it was pretty fast,” Herrera said. “Now, it’s time to practice on finishing the race strong. They are all young. This is a really big jump from 18th place. Now, we’re in the top 10. Next year, we’ll come in a lot stronger.”


Fernandez, a freshman, led the Toros across the line in 21st place. He was the first freshman to cross the finish line.


Ozzy Hernandez was 31st at the first mile, but dropped to 48th at the finish. He was more than 45 seconds behind Fernandez.

Fellow freshman Hunter Hannah as 43rd at the mile checkpoint and placed 55th overall, and was the second freshman to finish the race and crossed the line three seconds behind Hernandez.


Two places and three-tenths of a second later, Noah Felix-Andrade, a sophomore, came across the line in 57th place.


Completing the scoring was Esaud Vargas, a junior. He didn’t fall off as much after the first mile. He checked in at 71st place in the first mile and dropped to 76th at the end.


Alvino Diaz, in 98th place, and Emanuel Gomez, in 109th place, finished the Toros’ team.


Madera South Stallions


First, the Stallions were upset about their runner-up finish, by three point, in the Central Section Div. I Championship race.


Then, they had to deal with illness that affected their State championship run.


“We just had a couple of guys dealing with sickness,” head coach Sky Fierro said. “It kind of sucked it was that day and it hurt our plans. We were top 10 in the state on a bad day.”


The Stallions checked in at sixth place after the first mile, just three points out of fifth. However, the illness took its toll after, especially to Dylan Devine and Adrian Hipolito, Madera South’s top two runners.


“We, as Madera South, hold cross country to a high standard,” Fierro said. “We take it hard when we don’t hit our standards. It was a bad day by our standards, but a good day for any other team.”


Leading runner Dylan Devine was running with the lead pack in seventh place at the first mile. He dropped to 45th in the second mile and fell to 83rd at the finish.


Hipolito checked in at 42nd place at the first mile, but fell to 49th in the second mile. He fell back to 76th at the end.


Estevan Medina, who was third on the team at the first checkpoint, led the Stallions across the finish line in 69th place.


Isaac Chavez was 86th after the first mile, but moved is way up from there. He crossed the line just behind Hipolito in 77th place.


Vidal Luna worked his way up from a 93rd place at the first mile to an 84th place finish. He was right behind Devine across the line.


Despite the illness, the Stallions still earned a top 10 finish, placing just behind Westview and Loyola in eighth and ninth place.


“All three Central Section teams were in the top 10 (San Luis Obispo was fifth and Clovis finished seventh) makes the rest of the state know we’re still there, even though we had a bad day,” Fierro said. “It’s good for the program. It shows the young guys what hard work does and what’s expected.


“Our expectations are always higher. We can’t be mad because we know they gave it their all. On that day, it was their all.”


Madera Coyotes


Although running by herself, Scott crossed the finish line all smiles because she reached the goal of many cross country runners like herself — compete at the CIF State Championship.


“I finished and I made it to state,” she said. “Although my time wasn’t what I wanted, I made it here. That’s what I wanted.”

Scott got squeezed at the start and had to let up a little, but ended up with an 82nd place finish, just six seconds from a top 75 placing.


“It was tough on the line without my teammates,” she said. “I was wondering what to do. It was a really big race. I knew it was going to be like that, but it was a lot of girls. My race was all right. I could have done better. So many people throws you off your game. “


However, Scott, who placed fourth last week to give her this chance, was all smiles after the race.


“Running at state, I didn’t expect to be here. I’m happy I made it,” she said.

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