Turlock and Pitman high cross country teams are already back in action and looking forward to improving on last year's results in a competitive Central California Conference.
Turlock is coming off a great season in 2014 that saw the boys team finish second in league and the girls finish third.
“Our finish was phenomenal because we have a pretty tough league,” said Turlock head coach JoAnn Davison.
The Bulldog varsity girls will return standouts such as Cassie Derdivanis, Meghan Hopkins, Maria Varela, Erin Knopp-Sargoni, Jessica Gauthier and Kate Wilson.
“All these girls are working to reach that top spot in the 2015 season,” said Davison. “On the boy’s side, last year's frosh-soph champions are finally bumped up to the varsity level and it's easy — they want to win.
The boys to lookout for are Eric Alavarez, David Bosquez and Johnny Hollcraft. They will be joining Ara Moosekian, Will Anderson, Marc Carrizales, Edgar Ceballos and Jack Wooley to chase the league championship.
“These boys have their eye on a first place varsity finish,” said Davison of a task that has not be accomplished by the Bulldogs since 1986. “We have a whole slew of newcomers as well who might surprise us all.
“Last year the boys were fiercely competitive and going after it, we just happen to have a strong league but this year both teams are going to excel,” Davison added. “The desire is there. The work ethic is there, so I am hoping for a good strong finish in league and beyond. I want to have a bus full of kids heading to Sections in November, that's the goal.”
The Pitman High teams finished in the bottom half of league last season, with the boys placing fourth and the girls fifth, but head coach Sara Smith is already optimistic about this year's squads.
“We are excited for the upcoming year. We had a strong turn out during summer practice and are starting out stronger this season than we have in past seasons,” said Smith.
The Pride lost seven seniors, but will welcome members of the frosh-soph girls team that has won the CCC title over the last two years.
“Most of our girls from last year's JV CCC champs have returned,” said Smith. “Our weaknesses are probably going to become more apparent as the season progresses.”
On the girl’s side, Bianca Garcia, Sarah Siegel and Priscilla Bazan are the leaders of this year's squad.
Richard Turknett, and Keith and Kyle Reid will lead the varsity boys squad for the Pride.
“We are continuing to build a motivated team, with our captains being our primary motivators,” Smith added. “We feel that in our second decade, we are continuing to establish traditions and are one of the most spirited teams on campus.”
Both Turlock and Pitman teams will participate in the Running of the Warriors event at Cal State Stanislaus on Aug. 29, then compete in two invitationals before the first CCC Center Meet set for 10 a.m. Sept. 16 at Donnelly Park.