Liberty’s Avila passes huge test
Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Ryan Avila is excited after winning Saturday’s race against Matilda Torres, Yosemite, Chowchilla and Kerman high schools.
With the North Sequoia League championships coming up, Liberty’s two-time CIF State Championship qualifier Ryan Avila knew his biggest test was running against the Matilda Torres Toros.
Avila kept up with the Toros’ top runner, Esaud Vargas, for most of the race. In the final quarter-mile, Avila inched ahead and beat Vargas to the line by less than two seconds.
As he crossed the finish line, the normally stoic Avila screamed in celebration before slumping to the ground in exhaustion.
“I was working that entire race,” Avila said. “He would not let me let up. All the work came together. I got a little emotional at the end. I couldn’t help it. That kid was next to me last time. I tried to step it up today.”
Avila is considered one of the front runners for the NSL individual title. The NSL championships will be run Saturday at Liberty, beginning with the girls race at 10 a.m.
“I’m so confident for next week,” he said. “This gives me a boost.”
In addition to the Toros, the Hawks hosted one Yosemite-Oakhurst runner, Chowchilla and Kerman on Saturday.
Avila crossed the finish line in 17:35.9 and Vargas was 1.8 seconds behind him.
However, it was the entire Toros team that picked up the victory by 26 points over Liberty.
Ozzy Hernandez followed teammate Vargas across the line, albeit almost 36 seconds back in third place.
Toros teammates Armando Guzman and Alvino Diaz finished close to each other in fifth and sixth place, respectively. Malaky Beas closed out the Torres team scoring in seventh place.
Liberty’s Emilio Ortega was eighth and two seconds behind him was Quaid Copher, who beat Torres’ Bryan Perez by four-tenths of a second for ninth place.
Spencer Gladders finished in 18th place and Carlos Briceno closed out the team scoring in 20th place.
The girls race, run before the boys race, consisted of five Liberty runners and two runners from Chowchilla with one leaving the race due to injury
Liberty’s Anastasia Pille led the girls race from start to finish. She led the six runners across the line in 25:44.7. Hailey Bugg was second. Ellie Sano placed fourth, followed by Emma Piedra and Andrea Ovando.