Torres XC earns first section title
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Matilda Torres’ Benjamin Fernandez cruises across the finish line to win the Div. IV individual Central Section Championship by seven seconds and help lead the Toros to the school’s first team championship.
FRESNO — Rather easily, the Matilda Torres Toros cross country team gave the school its first Central Section Championship with a victory in the Div. IV boys race last week.
The Toros, who gave the school their first State Championship berth last year, improved on a second place finish with 19 place points this year for an easy championship last Thursday at Woodward Park.
While Torres placed four in the top five and all seven runners in the top 15, the next best team scored 93 points with a team average running time more than minute slower than the Toros.
Freshman Benjamin Fernandez led the Toros, and the Div. IV field, from the start. At the first mile marker, the top four Toros paced the field.
Fernandez extended his lead into the second mile and won the race by seven seconds with a time of 16:08.65.
After a Parlier runner came in seven seconds later, three Toros crossed the finish line within 14 seconds of each other.
“Running as a group is something we’ve been trying to work on,” first-year head coach and Madera South cross country legend Jose Herrera said. “I saw the gaps and I told them cross country is an individual sport, but to win, you need to do it as a team. You have to run together as a team and finish as close together as possible.”
Sophomore Noah Felix Andrade followed Fernandez across the finish line 32 seconds later. He was in second at the first and second mile, but dropped behind the Parlier runner.
Freshman Hunter Hannah was fourth at the first and second mile checkpoints and crossed the finish line nine seconds behind Andrade at 16:49.15.
Ozzy Hernandez, a junior, was third at the first and two mile checkpoints, but Hannah overtook him in the third mile. Hernandez was five seconds behind Hannah in fifth.
Alvino Diaz was the final scorer for the Toros in 12th place with a time of 17:25.75. He lead another trio of Toros across the finish line. Emanuel Gomez, the team’s lone senior, was five seconds behind Diaz and Esaud Vargas was four seconds behind Gomez in 14th place.
“In a race, you never know what can happen,” Herrera said. “Someone can have a bad race and you can lose the championship. The workouts I have been giving them and the way I’ve seen them run and saw their times, I expected this to happen.
“I told them we have to close out the Valley Championships on a good note so we roll to the state championships in a good way.”
The boys will race at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday at Woodward Park.
The Toros girls team ended its season at the Div. IV Central Section championships. They finished in eighth place as a team.
Vianney Martinez-Luna, a freshman, led the Toros with a 19th place finish. Junior Irene Martinez, in 31st place, was the only other Toro to place in the top 50.
“The girls are doing well,” Herrera said. “They are getting better and better. They were a little upset, but they are all young. This is a sport where you get in shape in months or a year, not two weeks before the season starts. Now they know the picture of being here. I promised them next year will be a lot better.”