Local cross country runners got a taste of league competition on Wednesday, as the first Central California Conference meet was held at Atwater High.
Six schools competed in the first of three cluster meets under the blazing sun. Golden Valley and Atwater led the way in varsity, as four boys and girls were able to place in the top three, respectively.
Turlock varsity girls and boys topped out at fourth place, while the Pitman girls took fifth, and the Pride boys finished in last place.
“Turlock and Pitman High always represent the community of Turlock with class and that’s our plan this year,” Pitman head coach Sara Smith said.
For the Pride, senior Erika Dwight returns as the number one varsity girls runner. Katie Hanf and Nina Shahi are also expected to be top runners this season.
On the girls side, Turlock’s Makenzie Salyer, who looks to be a top contender at the section level, placed fourth overall on Wednesday with a time of 20:44. Fallon Beaber and Jocy Montes return as the veterans of the Bulldogs squad. Raveena Samra and Brook Lowery are varsity newcomers this year and each meet is bringing them closer to their best times.
“We have a pretty tough league. I’d like to maintain that momentum going,” Turlock head coach JoAnne Davison.
The Pride’s Isaac Gonzalez returns after winning the CCC MVP for the varsity boys last season and is an immediate front runner for the award this year. Sam Wittstruck and Bobby Ketscher are also expected to make an impact for the Pride this season.
Also, Harrison Moore, who has been bothered by injuries, will be a vital asset to the team, Smith said.
“I was not sure how we were going to place because injuries have plagued us so far,” Smith said. “At varsity we have a strong boys team again, but the injuries are hurting us. Running as a group, not as an individual wins you the race.”
For the ‘Dogs Rex Doo, who also had a great race on Wednesday, was showing his potential to be an All League selection this season, as well as sophomore Gali Farias who is shaping up to be a solid varsity runner. Arturo Flores is also one to watch as he continues to improve throughout the season.
“Running together as a group is huge,” Davison said.
Turlock and Pitman will compete in their second of three CCC cluster meets at their home course at Donnelly Park on Oct. 9. Races begin at 3:30 p.m.