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Local runners medal in league finale
Pitman, Turlock pull off standout finishes
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Pitman’s Jami Ford, left, and Jenna Fontes make a final push toward the finish line. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal
Central California Conference Finale

At Merced’s Applegate Park

Top Finishers

Boys’ 3-Mile Race

1st Quinn Kantor, Merced 16:14

2nd Rusman Purewal, Golden Valley 16:24

3rd Taylor Scarbrough, Buhach Colony 16:35

4th Guadalupe Vargas, Atwater 16:44

5th Mark Machado, Buhach Colony

6th Frank Finch, Pitman 16:52

7th Axel Gutierrez, Buhach Colony 17:16

8th Yusuf Leon, Buhach Colony 17:23

9th Benjamin Hernandez, Golden Valley 17:33

10th Jorge Guzman, Turlock 17:34

Top Finishers

Girls’ 3-Mile Race

1st Teresa Mallory, Golden Valley 18:35

2nd Jennifer Ramos, Buhach Colony 19:02

3rd Amanda Garcia, Atwater 19:29

4th Sarah Miranda, Merced 20:05

5th Mariyah Banks, Golden Valley 20:12

6th Rochelle Parker, Golden Valley 20:20

7th Cassidy Heckman, Atwater 20:22

8th Kadie Jacobsen, Buhach Colony 20:23

9th Yvonne Silva, Buhach Colony 20:32

10th Jami Ford, Pitman 20:32

11th Jenna Fontes, Pitman 20:35

13th Alisa Pennick, Turlock 20:55

MERCED — Despite competing for rival schools, Pitman High’s Frank Finch and Turlock High’s Jorge Guzman have a simple plan whenever they’re in a cross country race: They want to stick together.

“I ran with Jorge the best I could,” Finch said. “We had the same plan as last time: stay together, keep with the people in front of us and pass someone every mile, at least. We did pretty good.”

They stuck to this agreement in Wednesday’s final Central California Conference meeting at Applegate Park. That was until midway through the 3-mile run, when Finch jetted away from his friend. Guzman — a hard runner to miss with his big, shiny sunglasses — floated backwards, hoping to stay somewhere in the top 10 and having a sort of back-and-forth dance with Atwater High’s Jose Vargas.

Guzman wasn’t upset that Finch got away, because both senior runners got what they wanted in the end. And that was the medals granted to the top 10 finishers, as Finch placed sixth with a time of 16 minutes, 44 seconds while Guzman barely made the cut and took 10th in 17:34, just four seconds ahead of Vargas.

“In this race, I didn’t let anybody pass me,” Guzman said. “Even if I was dying, I still would not let them pass me. I kept my eyes and my mind on the medal because I really wanted the medal. I said, ‘Okay, I gotta get one of those. I can’t let anybody pass me.’”

Yes, that elusive medal. That piece of hardware required a lot of guts, the kind that resulted in runners racing with hurt bodies, while others used all their strength before collapsing as soon as they crossed the finish line. That sort of vigor was evident in Pitman High sophomore Jami Ford, who used every bit of it to pass up junior teammate Jenna Fontes right at the finish line to take 10th in the girls race with a 20:32, beating Fontes by two seconds.

Turlock’s top girls runner was Alisa Pennick, who clocked in a 20:55 to place 13th overall.

Wednesday’s cool weather was ideal for most runners, with some parts of the course having a carpet of autumn leaves to run on. It made for some stellar performances, as Merced’s Quinn Kantor had the top boys time of 16:14 while Golden Valley High’s Teresa Mallory took first in the girls race after finishing in 18:35.

“This is one crazy sport,” Turlock coach JoAnn Davison wrote in an e-mail. “There is no glory, no game-winning home run, or winning touchdown. It’s just you, the clock and the guy in front of you that you are trying to run down. You are pushing yourself beyond the point of pain so that you no longer feel how much it hurts to run as fast as you can for three miles.”

As for the team standings, Buhach Colony High took home both the boys and girls titles.

Turlock and Pitman boys took fourth and fifth, respectively, while Pitman and Turlock girls placed fourth and fifth, respectively. Both schools will move on to the Sac-Joaquin Section Subsection Meet on Nov. 6 at Frogtown, which is located at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds.

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.