The Turlock and Pitman High varsity cross country teams took strides in 2016 as the year wore on for both the boys and girls side.
In the end, the Bulldogs girl squad, who won the 2015 league title, had the best result of all squads after taking second in the Central California Conference, trailing Merced by four points during the 2016 campaign.
“We had girls finish a very close race, second for varsity girls, tough one, but those Merced girls are good,” said Turlock coach JoAnn Davison. “Nobody hates losing more than I do but our girls held their heads high, I told them, they raced so well and PR'd, just a tough loss.”
The Pride of Pitman finished in fifth place for both the girls and boys varsity side.
“This is definitely a rebuilding year,” said Pitman coach Sara Smith. “We do have a strong frosh/soph girls team with several returners. They are a group to watch. I think their communication will help them go farther in the races.”
Pitman's top three girls will consist of Mavleen Mann, Sarah Siegel and Mikayla Perry.
With a solid Pride group, the Bulldogs on the other side of town look to be even deeper.
“I have a good squad there and those girls are tough as nails,” said Davison. “I am so fired up, I was telling the kids few years ago that people thought kids are not like they used to be but not this group, to the last they are focused and they don't waste time or practice.”
On the girls side for Turlock, Bernie Hollcraft, Macie Ericksen and Hope Salsig will be leading the herd.
In order to compete for a league title, the team will also rely on Sofia Andres, Emily Ramirez and sophomore Sandra Tovar.
“This year our girls are already saying they want it bad, they are chomping on it to get after it,” said Davison about competing in the CCC.
For the boys, which placed behind Buhach and Atwater in 2016, Marc Corrizales, Edgar Ceballos and Jose Sandoval along with Uriel Alvarez and Bryan Quinto will be the leaders for the 2017 group.
“The boys last league championship was 1987 and they say they are expecting a big year, but we will see since they are such a quiet group,” said Davison.
The leaders for the varsity boys squad for the Pride will consist of senior Austin Allen, junior Geovanny Aceves and sophomores Bryce Van Allen and Jayson Martin.
“Goals are to build our frosh/soph teams and teaching them how to run in groups, and how that will help them be more successful in meets,” said Davison. “Our varsity we want to strive for growth in each race, we want to improve our times in each meet.”